Camp WooNoOutMo April 2018!!!

Hey ya’ll,

*evil laugh*


Sup, it’s Wooster Novel Outlining Month or WooNoOutMo. Specifically Camp WooNoOutMo. As you know, or do not know, NaNoWriMo has a sister program: Camp NaNoWriMo. Basically its diet NaNoWriMo. You get to choose the goal and the form (so actually the acronym is wrong…*sad face*). Therefore as this is the month leading up to Camp WooNoWriMo, March will serve as your time to prepare for the torment which you have saddled yourself with.

If you want to be part of our Camp NaNoWriMo cabin please email me your Camp NaNoWriMo username. We’re going to be doing extra write-ins to discuss our projects and shame each other into writing and CAMP DAY in which we’ll make smores? while we write… at night.

Scenery: Set the stage and fill some time

Hey y’all

This week we’re focusing in on setting. Unless your story takes place in a void space (and even then now that I think about of it), you will need to describe your setting. So we’re starting the meeting by spending 5-10 minutes just focusing in on knitty-gritty details of your environment before we do anything with plot affecting actions, dialogue, or anything in the case of the story. We are merely describing the setting, whether or not this is actually a part of your story or just for your own benefit.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Time of day, weather, ground?, walls?, things in the space, cultural significance of the place, topography, etc.
  • Use your senses. Not just your eyes and your memory, what does it smell like? Feel like? What’s the air like? What does it taste like? Why are you licking the ground?
  • Why are you here? How did you get here? Is this a restricted place or an open space? Are there extra non-significant characters around, why? Are there none? Why?
  • What would your character notice? What would they probably not think about that is important for your readers to know about anyway?
  • In what order would your character notice these things? Is there something that enwraps their attention? Are they moving in this space?
  • Is there something about this space that you want to keep secret for a reveal? It’s best not to leave these things in the ether for a deus ex machina reveal.

Start the year off on a bad foot.

We started our stories with a bad line this week:


“Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.”

“As the dark and mysterious stranger approached, Angela bit her lip anxiously, hoping with every nerve, cell, and fiber of her being that this would be the one man who would understand – who would take her away from all this – and who would not just squeeze her boob and make a loud honking noise, as all the others had.”

“The fairies of Minglewood, which is near Dingly Pool, were having a grand revel with flower-cakes, and butterfly dances, looking ever so pretty, while Queen Bellaflora swept her wand o’er the waterfall’s foam, making it pop like the snot-bubbles on your baby sister’s face.”

“Betty had eyes that said come here, lips that said kiss me, arms and torso that said hold me all night long, but the rest of her body said, “Fillet me, cover me in cornmeal, and fry me in peanut oil”; romance wasn’t easy for a mermaid.”

“On reflection, Angela perceived that her relationship with Tom had always been rocky, not quite a roller-coaster ride but more like when the toilet-paper roll gets a little squashed so it hangs crooked and every time you pull some off you can hear the rest going bumpity-bumpity in its holder until you go nuts and push it back into shape, a degree of annoyance that Angela had now almost attained.”

“It was such a beautiful night; the bright moonlight illuminated the sky, the thick clouds floated leisurely by just above the silhouette of tall, majestic trees, and I was viewing it all from the front row seat of the bullet hole in my car trunk.”

“As the sun dropped below the horizon, the safari guide confirmed the approaching cape buffaloes were herbivores, which calmed everyone in the group, except for Herb, of course.”

““Hmm …” thought Abigail as she gazed languidly from the veranda past the bright white patio to the cerulean sea beyond, where dolphins played and seagulls sang, where splashing surf sounded like the tintinnabulation of a thousand tiny bells, where great gray whales bellowed and the sunlight sparkled off the myriad of sequins on the flyfish’s bow ties, “time to get my meds checked.””

“He swaggered into the room (in which he was now the “smartest guy”) with a certain Wikipedic insouciance, and without skipping a beat made a beeline towards Dorothy, busting right through her knot of admirers, and she threw her arms around him and gave him a passionate though slightly tickly kiss, moaning softly, “Oooohh, Scarecrow!””

“On their first date he’d asked how much she thought Edgar Allan Poe’s toe nails would sell for on eBay, and on their second he paid for subway fair with nickels he fished out of a fountain, but he was otherwise charming and she thought that they could have a perfectly tolerable life together.”

“Like a mechanic who forgets to wipe his hands on a shop rag and then goes home, hugs his wife, and gets a grease stain on her favorite sweater – love touches you, and marks you forever.”

“Leopold looked up at the arrow piercing the skin of the dirigible with a sort of wondrous dismay – the wheezy shriek was just the sort of sound he always imagined a baby moose being beaten with a pair of accordions might make.”

“The professor looked down at his new young lover, who rested fitfully, lashed as she was with duct tape to the side of his stolen hovercraft, her head lolling gently in the breeze, and as they soared over the buildings of downtown St. Paul to his secret lair he mused that she was much like a sweet ripe juicy peach, except for her not being a fuzzy three-inch sphere produced by a tree with pink blossoms and that she had internal organs and could talk.”

“As she slowly drove up the long, winding driveway, Lady Alicia peeked out the window of her shiny blue Mercedes and spied Rodrigo the new gardener standing on a grassy mound with his long black hair flowing in the wind, his brown eyes piercing into her very soul, and his white shirt open to the waist, revealing his beautifully rippling muscular chest, and she thought to herself, “I must tell that lazy idiot to trim the hedges by the gate.””

“Gerald began – but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them “permanently” meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash – to pee.”

“Colin grabbed the switchgear and slammed the spritely Vauxhall Vixen into a lower gear as he screamed through the roundabout heading toward the familiar pink rowhouse in Puking-On-The-Wold, his mind filled with the image of his comely Olive, dressed in some lacy underthing, waiting on the couch with only a smile and a cucumber sandwich, hoping that his lunch hour would provide sufficient time for both a naughty little romp and a digestive biscuit.”

“He was a dark and stormy knight, and this excited Gwendolyn, but admittedly not as much as last night when he was Antonio Banderas in drag, or the night before that when he was a French Legionnaire who blindfolded her and fed her pommes frites from his kepi.”

“Corinne considered the colors (palest green, gray and lavender) and texture (downy as the finest velvet) and wondered, “How long have these cold cuts been in my refrigerator?””

“Chain-smoking as he stood in the amber glow of the street lamp, he gazed up at the brownstone wherein resided Bunny Morgan, and thought how like a bunny Bunny was, though he had read somewhere that rabbits were coprophages, which meant that they ate their own feces, which was really disgusting now that he thought about it, and nothing like Bunny, at least he hoped not, so on second thought Bunny wasn’t like a bunny after all, but she still was pretty hot.”

“When Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday, his children packed his bags and drove him to Golden Pastures retirement complex just off Interstate 95.”

“Before they met, his heart was a frozen block of ice, scarred by the skate blades of broken relationships, then she came along and like a beautiful Zamboni flooded his heart with warmth, scraped away the ugly slushy bits, and dumped them in the empty parking lot of his soul.”

“As I gardened, gazing towards the autumnal sky, I longed to run my finger through the trail of mucus left by a single speckled slug – innocuously thrusting past my rhododendrons – and in feeling that warm slime, be swept back to planet Alderon, back into the tentacles of the alien who loved me.”

“Joe would have been perfect for her if he wasn’t the worst.”

“I never did like the word spoon.”

“He wondered if someone had cut the brake line, but when he placed his foot down, the car stopped.”

“’Why are you wearing that hat?’ she asked, which prompted me to think, “’Why am I wearing this hat?’”

“The elven city of Losstii faced towering sea cliffs and abutted rolling hills that in the summer were covered with blankets of flowers and in the winter were covered with blankets, because the elves wanted to keep the flowers warm and didn’t know much at all about gardening. ”

“Franco’s wife, seen smiling in all those photos with the same big hat on, was actually the brains behind the dictatorship, the concentration camps, torture, the brutal suppression, and so forth, but she was a shy lady, except when she dressed up in the binding closet for Franco, who listened a-quiver to hear what a very bad boy he’d been.”

“As Lewiston Creol plummeted down the sheer icy cliff he pondered on the word plummet, which quickly lost its meaning if you said it too much (plummet plummet plummet), but his pondering was interrupted by the surface of the water, at which point he ceased to plummet and began to plunge.”

“As he lay dying on the smoke-wreathed battlefield, General Winthrop finally realized the terrible toll the war had taken, and he wondered if the bloodshed had all been for naught as he exhaled his last breath in a sort of “meoooooh,” actually very similar to the sound his cat Mister Jingles made when he wanted some food or was doing that thing with the drapes.”

“Detective Sam Steel stood at the crime scene staring puzzled at the chalk outline of Ms. Mulgrave’s body which was really just a stick figure with a dress, curly hair, boobs, and a smiley face because the police chalk guy had the day off.”

“The warehouse was completely empty except for the mutilated corpse wearing a tuxedo covered with bloodstains, and a Mortimer Snerd dummy lying nearby on the floor, and Detective McIntosh knew Snerd wouldn’t talk.”

“As hard-boiled detective Max Baxter ate his soft-boiled egg, he thought about the gorgeous dame he’d found last night lying in a pool of her own blood—it being inconvenient to lie in a pool of someone else’s blood—and wondered how she liked her eggs.”

“As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the echo chamber he would never hear the end of it.”

“With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned, unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description.”

“Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the east wall: “Andre creep … Andre creep … Andre creep.”

“Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do.”

“Like an overripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor.”

“Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn’t know the meaning of the word “fear,” a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death — in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies.”

“The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the green sward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog’s deception, screaming madly, “You lied!”

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

Update: My Dad’s Sending Me Memes Now.

This one seemed relevant:

OOOOO Boy! October is Outlining Month!

Hey y’all!

Ohhhhh Boy am I excited for October! If you’re like me, you like to spend way too much time thinking about your story and your world before you even know what your plot is. The good news is that that’s called outlining and it’s incredibly useful. So take the time this month to plan out your story.

Why now? Well it’s not just that great alliteration of Outlining October. November (the month after October for you gregorian calendar fans) will be WooWriMo, or Wooster Writing Month. This is a “lite” version of NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month) because we recognize that November is not a good time for y’all to be stressing about a 50,000 word goal. WooWriMo will be just the goal to write everyday, whether that be on one project or multiple or rewrite/editing a document. Remember that WooWriMo is Wooster Writing Month. It’s all about the process, no destination, but having a clear plan can be very useful, so Outlining October.

Our two first Saturdays of October fall during Fall break which is both useful and not at all helpful from a club perspective, but our prompts will be centered around the idea of working on something big for the next to months to facilitate participants in WooWriMo.

Goals/Tips for Outlining October:

  • Plan out main characters to the absurd extent. Don’t just use your character sheet as a cheat sheet for their appearance and name. Make your character sheet a chance to deeply explore and get to know what your character is like and what they’re likely to do even if you don’t end up using every detail in your story. Check out Develop Your OC on Tumblr or this post from our Tumblr for absurd questions to really get into that nitty gritty.
  • Check out concept art that inspires not just appearance, but the attitude you want in your character. Remember photos can be great, but drawings can also be great for character art. There’s a lot of inspirational character art on our Tumblr, but don’t be afraid to just google some physical descriptions.
  • Do some fanfiction. Just because you don’t have your main plot doesn’t mean you can’t write stories about your characters. You probably have some ideas for scenes… write them. Try writing them outside of what they’d do in the actual story, like what if they didn’t have to race to the top of that plot mountain, what would they be doing? Write it, learn some more about your characters and get comfortable writing for them.
  • Play connect the dots. If you know what scenes you absolutely need in your story but don’t know what’s in between, then write out those scenes on cards. Figure out what you need to get those scenes to happen and fill in the rest. Don’t be scared if you can’t connect everything, so scenes might not fit, but this is your story, so you can make them fit. Be creative.
  • If your story includes a long journey, then plot out a map of their route or what you think it will be. Visualizing the distance might inspire you. Check out this map generator for inspiration.
  • Prepare for senses and emotions. Find and emotions chart, like this one,  to use as a visual aid when you’re writing descriptions. Try to get specific, like this one, and diversify your list to get a wide range of expressions. Check out this book, which you can by in ebook form for helpful vocab and descriptions of what emotions look/feel like.
  • Read some good books in your genre (but not your topic) to get an into the right headspace.
  • Remember that your plans can change while you’re writing. Don’t think of your outline as a roadmap, but as a way to prepare details and facts about aspects of your world. Take your time!

Personal NaNoWriMo Update (What to Prepare for)

Hey ya’ll, I’m back. It’s been a weird week for me writing wise. TBH, I’ve gotten pretty lazy with my writing schedule since school started in fall and I haven’t adjusted back to summer schedule, but that’s why I love NaNoWriMo so much. It’s an excuse to write regularly and as usual I’ve started early.


I started NaNoWriMo back in April of my Senior year, which was just great since I had AP’s the next month along with regular school work. Thankfully I had a reasonable goal, but it meant that I had to seriously adjust my schedule since I usually studied for AP Latin before school every day (daily tests), which meant getting up earlier. I decided a few days before April that I would get up at 5AM and write my 800 words right after waking up, which was a personal decision which worked very well in a getting a routine sort of way, but I know from experience that I write best at night. What works is something that you need to fiddle with, is it better to do something that gets you to do it every day or to do something that gives you the best words to work with? What’s important is routine, which is why I opt to start a little early by writing everyday at least a week in advance. My routine has been a little too sporadic this past week, meaning that some days I didn’t top even three hundred words, but this week I’m trying to tighten that up. I’m going to try get up and go to bed at more regular times to discourage procrastination and make a specific time to write and make sure I do it at my desk or arm chair since I tend to meander less in those environments.


As for my NaNoWriMo survival supplies, I’m just about prepared. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I opt for tea since it’s an excuse to walk away for a little bit and come back. I tend to recommend water since, and this sounds ridiculous, but, writing is thirsty work. I recommend staying away from snacks during this season since they require you to remove your hands from your writing, but something sweet that you can suck on like lifesavers can be a real lifesaver. I also have an array of stress toys, slinkys, and bouncy balls for times when I need to focus on what to write next and a playlist of music that doesn’t distract me. Basically in the way of supplies, get stuff that can help you focus and doesn’t distract you.


Another thing that helps me is writing vlogs. Motivation to keep writing is crucial in a month long spree, especially if you aren’t used to writing a lot every day. You may run into dead ends or feel like you’re writing is bad or that you don’t know how to write something, which is usually when I turn to writing vlogs. I like Katytastic, because she has a lot of NaNoWriMo vlogs, which focus on the stress of writing like this. It helps me get into the writing mood before I start, like a pep talk before a fight, it can help you get into the flow quicker and remind you that other people are having trouble too.


Lastly, I want to address cabins. Those of you who haven’t participated before may not know, but Camp NaNoWriMo has cabins, in which a group of people work together to do their individual projects. In the past this hasn’t been particularly helpful for me, since I tend to be the one who pep talks other people, but it’s nice to have a group of people who can give you suggestions and remind you that it’s okay if you miss a goal, but keep moving forward. We will also have a group goal in our Writing Club cabin, which we can all try to meet together. Which reminds me that I will likely have a big addition the first day of camp since I’m a big ol’ cheater and I don’t like subtracting numbers from my project info every time I update my word count, so don’t worry about that, it’s just annoying not too. I’m adjusting my goal to fit accordingly, so I’m not a total cheater, I’m still pushing myself.


So good luck NaNoWriMo writers, I’m proud of all ya’ll and I will be there to give confusing pep talks and rambling stories just like on the website and in person. See you there!


BTW Cabin is under my name (llama-overlord), so look for me or message me or email me and I’ll add you in.

(Some) Outlining Methods Pros and Cons

Outlines are not everybody’s thing. I know that, but they can be incredibly useful. I’ve said before that I wasn’t an outlining kind of writer when I first started, mostly because I didn’t know it was an option, but I’ve come around a bit and I’ve been testing out how to effectively outline this past year or so.


There are a couple of reasons I’ve done this, first being that I was getting stuck. I would write myself into a situation that had to be a certain way because of character traits and decisions made earlier in the story and because of said situation I was forced to go in a certain direction that I didn’t want to go in because it was either that or do a total rewrite. In short, I was stuck in a loop of starting over and over and over until I lost interest. Outlining doesn’t necessarily fix that problem entirely, but it helps test the waters for things that may be problems and helps me direct my characters away from directions I don’t want to go. I find that it also helps me write faster since I’m not spending as much time wondering what I should do next, and it helps me get hyped about my story. It’s not a sure-fire thing, but it’s certainly preventative.


I think there’s a misconception, which a lot of people have about the outline, that it’s a set in stone contract or a walkthrough of your story. The truth is that you may not even use the outline at all, you may simply make it and never touch it again because it may have already fulfilled its purpose to you. The point of an outline is to get you to think about your story before you actually write it. Brian A. Klems puts it this way in his article “Choosing the Best Outline Method for You” in Writer’s Digest:


“Think of it, perhaps, as a recipe. You can follow a recipe exactly for, say, a cheesecake, or you can add a bit of chocolate to the batter, and poof—chocolate cheesecake! Or, you can add a graham cracker crust and some cherries to the top, and you’ve got a different version of the same classic. Recipes guide us—but the creativity still belongs to the head chef.”


So, if you’re convinced, and you want to start using outlines, you may be wondering “What the fuck do I do now?” And I might respond “That is a very good question, I was hoping you could tell me.” Just as there is no one way to use an outline, there is no one way to make an outline. Here are a few ways people suggest you go about it, and some pros and cons to each strategy:


  1. The Expanding Outline (aka The Snowflake Method):


The idea with this one is that you start with your basic premise


Ex. Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water


Then you keep expanding and adding more details to it


Ex. Jack the seventh son of a seventh son with his twin sister Jill must hike up the mount Hecuba to retrieve the water of youth to heal their sick mother. à Jack the seventh son of a seventh son with his twin sister Jill must hike up the mount Hecuba to retrieve the water of youth to heal their sick mother, because they are the only one’s powerful enough to defeat wicked Zolo. Zolo almost kills them several times (with his henchmen, his giant hawk, and with his turtle Steve), but Jack and Jill persevere and face Zolo for one final battle when Jack falls from the mountain, leaving Jill to follow him down quickly or perish. ETC.


More information here.



  • Helps identify the places that need expanding
  • Can be used on the micro and macro level.


  • Long
  • Not simple


  1. Summary:


This one’s easy. Just start writing the story but summarize the conversations and scenes.



  • Straight forward
  • Easy to follow after it’s done


  • Not good for much brainstorming
  • May have to do it several times


  1. Skeletal Outline:


This is the one most people think of when they think of outlines. It’s like when you were a kid in elementary school and they made you do those outlines for essays that have the class hated more than writing the actual essay. You basically just use a story common story structure and plug in elements of your story



  • Easy to follow
  • Easy to organize and reorganize
  • Bird’s eye view
  • Helps identify key elements


  • Dull
  • May have to try different story structures out


  1. Free-Writing:


This is method I use a lot with in my outlining process. It’s basically just doing a dry-run of the story with low attention to detail. I use this when I have no ideas, but I think that writing will help me think clearer.



  • Intuitive
  • Engaging
  • Good brainstorming


  • Not easy to follow
  • May cause you to get lost or too focused on small details
  • May not help with the flow of the piece


  1. Contextual Preperation:


This one I think should just me standard if you’re writing a story. It’s not outlining the story elements or plot, just hammering out details about the world and the characters. What are the politics, climate, history, ruling class, etc. of the world and what are your characters’ motivations, fears, habits, ticks, appearances, history, etc..



  • You know what every element of the world will and won’t do
  • Good brainstorming
  • Good reference
  • Good descriptions
  • Good for pantsers
  • Goos motivation
  • You will probably use this


  • Long
  • Not step-by-step
  • No plot


  1. 3 Act 9 Part 27 Chapter Outline:


This is a basic structure that I’ve used before, more information here. You can manipulate the details, but it gives you points to touch on.


More information here.



  • Step-by-step
  • Good for making sure you touch on why things are happening and how your main character is influencing the plot


  • Dull
  • Need to make sure your chapters flow
  • Maybe not the layout you want


  1. Notecard Method:


Honestly I don’t understand this one. I think it’s useful if you have elements you want and don’t want to commit to a place for them yet. You can use notecards to move around elements easily. More information here.



  • Easy to manipulate
  • Easy to follow when it’s done


  • Long
  • Not easy in the brainstorming stage


June is Outlining Month (and also updates on Camp NaNoWriMo and more)

Hey y’all! I know I’m a little early, but I’d like to welcome you all to June, which is unofficially outlining month. Since July is going to be Camp NaNoWriMo, it seems pertinent in this next month to address the outlining for those of you who believe in outlining or those, like me, are focused on learning the skill and craft of the outline.


I’ve touched on my outlining experiences before on the site, but this month I want to focus on ways people suggest you should outline, the pros and cons of these methods, helpful programs for outlining, and, most importantly, things to look out for in your outline. I will be working with my current outlines this month (as well as getting myself mentally prepared for writing everyday), so if anything comes up, you might get some personal anecdotes as well this month.


Also, if you’re interested in joining our little Camp in July, I will post when Cabins open on the Camp NaNoWriMo site, so when they do you can join us online. Anyone is free to join us, in the club or not, so feel free to invite friends. Usually NaNoWriMo is set at a 50,000-word target, but Camp is set your own goal (basically the idea is to just write everyday), so if you’re worried about time and stress, this is a “at your own pace” kind of thing. No judgement and no penalties. Also camp isn’t all about novels, you can choose to edit or write poetry or short stories, so if you’re interested in stretching your writing muscles in a different style, by all means go ahead.


June is also pride month, so just a small reminder to be inclusive and open to new ideas or characters to add to your story. I’ve been thinking about talking to the Wooster QSU+ about queer character representation, maybe we could do a discussion with them when school starts up again since I know we have a lot of overlap and good character development comes from knowing the pitfalls. If anyone is interested in that please get in contact with me, either now or during the school year so we could work something out.


That’s all the updates for now. Thank you for checking in and please keep tuned in for more, and I’m always open to other people posting on the site, so if anyone’s interested please email me and I’ll be glad to give you access.

Reading my old writing like: “Did I used to be good at this?”

Hey y’all, I have something to confess today: I have a bad habit. Sometimes when I can’t write, I reread my old writing. And I know I shouldn’t because I’m in the drafting phase when all that matters is moving forward, but I can’t help myself. Sometimes it’s a cringey experience like rereading my actual published novel which describes my main character’s period cramps as something that’s so bad she can’t even leave the bathroom long enough to solve the murder she’s been hired to solve (…*facepalm*), something which I only confess to you in the hopes that you will understand why I am so uncomfortable with the fact that my entire immediate family and some of my high school friends’ parents have read this. This is my life… I cannot even with that book. However, on some occasions I reread what I’ve written and I’m swept away into this world that I created, and I think “wow, that was actually good.”


I think I hate this more.


It’s like: “Did I used to be good at this?” Honestly, rereading the short story which my current project Roots is based off of, I’m amazed at what I did. Sure there are things I don’t like about it, but it engages me in a way that my writing for the Roots novel doesn’t. So my question is: why? Is it just because this is a longer project? Or because the subject matter isn’t as engaging as the actual climax of my novel? Or is it the outlining? Is it because changing my writing patterns and methods dried out my work? Was I better off as a pantser?


I’ll be the first to say that I believe in outlining. I think it’s made it a lot easier to jump into my work and keep it going, but I can’t help but to wonder if I still need to adjust the way I go about drafting to this new method. I don’t know how to change that, but I know that I need to do something to adjust my writing style back to the way it used to be a few months ago, without going back to the older me who clearly didn’t know what she was doing.

Cheating On My Draft with My Ex-Manuscript

Hey y’all, I’ve been taking a few days off from writing, by which I mean I slept in until 4pm a couple of days ago.


I said in my last update that I was reworking my outline for my current project “Roots,” and that’s how I started. You see the reason I’m so intent on finishing Roots is because I have this other project that I started back in middle school which has gone through several renditions to say the least. I might post some of the crappy old drafts sometime later, but the point is that it’s a piece I keep going back too. I work on it when I’m feeling down or like I can’t write other projects. It’s actually the first piece I ever outlined, and it’s usually where I go when I try a new technique or method since I have a lot of the world figured out.


Last night I was about to look at my Roots outline when I started thinking about my Old Faithful project and a few of the ideas I’d come up with. Somehow I ended up pulling up the Scrivener document and working with the character sheets until about 1AM. Somehow, I don’t know, maybe witchcraft or something (I was bound by its sneaky allure and forced to write (how dare it)). Like I said before, I’m not good with structured outlining fill in the blank sheets. I find them hard to navigate and a little unnecessary. Scrivener comes pre-programed with one of these in its character sheets. I have it pictured below so you can see what I’m talking about:


Scrivener Character sheet

Scrivener Character sheet

(Shhhh! Steam isn’t open in the background there while I’m typing this out). Anyway, it’s not that long and pretty open ended, so I’ve used it a few times when I outlined Roots the third time, but It’s not really the way my head works. I think the point is more to think about these sort of details before you right so you don’t suddenly change how a character acts or looks rather than as a reference.

What I worked on last night was these character sheets because I wanted to flush out my antagonists for the story (or rather have antagonists since I didn’t find the ones in my last draft all that compelling). I started with images, since I already know my characters well enough to know what characteristics they need to have to signify personalities or to demonstrate how they move. Pictures help me since my in-head writing is very visually oriented and pictures help me stay grounded or test out different ideas I’m weighing. Here is the corkboard mode on Scrivener with my character sheets:

Hope's Character Sheets for Storyteller

Hope’s Character Sheets for Storyteller

I focused a lot on facial expressions since I don’t tend to focus a lot on physical details when I write (I’m more focused on movements or the main details). Jaime, who’s main character, doesn’t really look all that much like Hermione Granger, but she has some basic details I wanted like long brown hair and the right age range (finding character models is difficult for non-mainstream body types, skin tones, or young women). Ideally my character model would be a little chubbier and have a braid, but I had to make sacrifices. The facial expression was more why I picked her; I found it the right tone for inspiring some major details about her, and I’m willing to stake a few physical details from the character model here as well.


I then moved into other main characters in order of importance to the plot (or in the order that I remembered them). Which led me to the last main character I had yet to outline: my antagonist. He’s the only character I don’t know a lot about, but I’d been running through a few ideas. I have no idea what it or they look like so I start plugging my ideas in one at a time and I run across one image I like so I look for images like that one and end up on this one:


Skull Creature by Kazenra (taken from their DeviantArt page)

Skull Creature by Kazenra (taken from their DeviantArt page)

What I like about this one is, again, the face. And it’s like magic. I know exactly what I want this character to be like. So I applied one of the methods I used for my Roots outline which is basically writing about the thing like it’s the Wikipedia page version and that’s my outline for the character.


So that’s how I cheated on my current project and I’m not sure if I’m going to set Roots aside because eventually something I’m proud of has to be finished, but I think I’ll keep working on both outlines and decide which one I’ll use for Camp NaNoWriMo this year.

Are Your Hands Wet?