Posted in 1. Writing

Making Outlining Work for Pantsers

Blank-Outline-Picture

If you are a Pantser, meaning you write new things by the seat of your pants, having an outline won’t always work. You may feel after writing one that once you know where the story is going it has lost its spark. Writing becomes dull and scripted. Writing for each step ends up arduous.

Yet Pantsers can use outlines to aid them. The best thing for a Pantser to outline, or at least write down, is the ending to avoid a flat one. You can’t write action, action, and … he died, the end. You need a direction even when writing by the seat of your pants. Your whims may take you off track, but remember where you are going so you can get back to that ending.

  • the princess won’t live happily ever after
  • the car will explode
  • the battle to end all battles will be survived by the druids

Another way you can use an outline is to keep track of your plot lines as you go, or at least in your first draft edit make a bulleted list of things you wrote that you forgot about. You might be able to add them back in to fix some plot holes.

  • Kevin had a brother who died mysteriously
  • The fairy may or may not have been her mother
  • Explosions happened in the 4th kingdom

Then when you edit the ending, make sure you closed those story arcs – unless you are writing a sequel. If you do write a sequel, make sure those story arcs (unsolved questions) are strong enough to carry it.

Posted in 1. Writing

No Motivation?

I have not had any motivation recently to write. I’ve been too busy. Then I heard this:

Without incentive, there is no motivation.


Duh. How could I be so stupid?!

This is why writing contests work and get many entries, but books remain unwritten and unpublished in those same author’s computers.

Authors like me.

 Without incentive, there is no motivation.


This is why I like to collaborate with others. Not only does it bring out the best in me because I challenge myself to be great, but also because they set a pace for me, a deadline, and encourage me to write something they will be proud of and I will, too.

I write for others. 

Some people write for themselves. I don’t. I don’t have extra baggage I need to get rid of. I write for others. I want others to feel, dream, laugh, love.

Maybe I have a story inside that needs to get out.

But it won’t be for me. It won’t be to heal me or solve some mystery of myself. It will be for you.

You are my motivation.

You are my passion.

You are my missing piece.

Posted in 1. Writing

W is for Writer’s Block

So you’re writing along and you come to a place where you don’t know what happens next to your characters. You can’t find a solution to the scene. It ends. You close your work and walk away. But nothing comes that day, or the next or the next week.

You have a block.

There are so many ways to cure Writer’s Block.

Here my faves.

1. Work on something else. Never. Stop. Writing. So what if you have to go blog for a few days to get the things on your mind out of the way?! Keep writing.

2. Focus on a different character. Perhaps the one giving you fits is stepping out of the limelight for a reason. Maybe your entire work should be voiced by another character as if the story you want to tell isn’t really theirs to tell. Keep Writing.

3. Read. Pick up a book and get immersed in the story. Study what the author does to move scenes along, use dialogue, and other ways they craft the story. Take notes. Keep Writing.

4. Watch. Take a TV or movie break. Those are stories too. Take notes on the loopholes you find, the characters who intrigue you, and anything else that catches your fancy. Keep Writing.

5. Research. Maybe what you need is more detail. If you aren’t really sure about the scene, the flaw that stops you could be in the details you don’t know or understand. Interview people, read up, watch some documentaries, whatever you have to do to learn more. Keep Writing.

6. Get away for a while. Step back, maybe review your work for your own plot holes, but also take time to leave the work for a day or two. You can get burnt out. It happens. Give yourself a mini vacation or a treat. Then come back and write.

7. Listen. Music can alter your mood, tell stories, or enhance a piece of writing. Some people write better with music or establish CDs as soundtracks for their writing, lending the emotion they feel in the songs to their works. Listen to people talking and pick up their slang, cadence, hidden meanings, and write their dialogue down. Listen to your story read aloud. There may be glaring errors that need fixed.  Listen to your own thoughts and brainstorm ways around the troublesome part. Keep Writing.

These are just off the top of my head. Oh, use some writing prompts! Have you tried The Brainstormer? Or just search for Writing Prompts.

Search for ‘cure writer’s block’ for more ideas and theories.

Keep Writing.

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Posted in 1. Writing

Writing Resolutions

1. Finish what You start

I have way too many little starts. Little starts are good. But finishing a story feels soooo good. I also have starts on editing multiple projects. Those need finished.

If you have little starts, prompts, a character talking to you in your head, a vivid dream, write it down. Flesh it out with setting, more characters, motives, and a problem or two.

Then write it. 500 words a day, if you can. Less, more, some words a day.

Write to the end. Even a short story can have a market. There are TONS of short story competitions, magazines, and places to submit them.

2. Trade critiques with another writer

I know how valuable this is. I won a writing competition because I had others critique my work and I listened to them to make it awesome. I will most likely go back to Critique Circle and begin working there.

Trading Beta Readers is also a great way to build a launch team for your book. Anyone who Beta Read it might be willing to review it for you on Amazon and Goodreads and help you host a launch party.

3. Increase Your Marketing Platform

Brainstorm what you can do to add value to your book, book launch, readers, and email list. Mostly, write and get things out there. Create things to promote.

Ask what people like to read, to have, what questions they have that you might be able to answer. Give things away. Give answers away.

Have a website. Integrate it with social media as you see fit. Make it work for you by automatically posting across platforms.

What else? Comment below.

Posted in 1. Writing

Ultimate Guide To Overcoming The BLOCK!

I’ve noticed an abundance of talk recently about ‘The Dreaded Writer’s Block’, which my co-author calls ‘That Which Shall Remain Nameless’, giving it the stigma and superstition is deserves. 🙂

But I have amassed a super cheat sheet sure to bring the words flowing back!

With Your WIP Open In Front of You:

  • Write out of order – Who says you have to write scene by scene?
  • Switch to a different POV – Maybe your story needs to be told by some other char.
  • Slow down the action – Describe in slo-mo what exactly is going on
  • Throw in supporting characters
  • Write a deep dark secret -char’s have skeleton’s in their closets, don’t they?
  • Kill off a character – Your book doesn’t need the dead weight
  • Learn something new about your setting, background, or character’s occupation – research!

With A Blank Page Staring You In The Face:

  • Take a scene and re-imagine it as a different genre
  • Create a new civilization
  • Write a silly story – break the ice
  • Write some poetry, or a song
  • Write to incorporate a list of words – use ‘word of the day’ websites, or make some up
  • Go back to your Writer’s Notebook (You keep one, right? Please tell me you do!) look up something old you wrote ages ago and see it’s potential now.

When Nothing Else Works:

  • Look for a challenge or a prompt on a website (see list of my faves below)
  • Get away from your desk! For goodness sakes, have your knees locked up?!
  • Journal, Doodle, Freewrite – Wrote anything, even not story related, just to get the juices flowing and keep the habit alive!!
  • Tell someone! You think your brain is the only out there worthy of generating a decent thought??! Bounce ideas off of someone else.
  • Listen to music. As long as it doesn’t completely derail you, like it sometimes does it me, great music can take your mind on a creative flight akin to dreaming.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Posted in 1. Writing

Potential In A Blank Page

There’s something about a blank page.

It’s full of potential. It’s waiting for words to turn it into something beautiful, something worthy of sharing with others. I love blank pages!

Many of you think that blinking cursor is a curse, your mind goes blank as soon as you see the empty white space.

Don’t be afraid. Fill it!

Describe a character, a setting, or an action sequence.

Pen a poem

Capture the flutter of a hummingbird’s wing, the chiseled jaw of a salty sailor, or the sound of rain on a tin roof.

What is it about writing that you love? Character? Plot development? Finishing or beginning a story?

Leave me a comment!