November is the month to rise to the challenge of writing a novel in a month! That means 50,000 words in 30 days! Don’t trip or make excuses, time to make a plan (or fly by the seat of your pants) and write that wonderful story. If you haven’t heard of this insane challenge you should check out NaNoWriMo and step in the abyss of words. Get the lowdown on how to get started and take the first step in your journey. All your questions can be answered in their FAQ section and you can always join a local group to help push you along.

I’m definitely participating this year and my novel is already mapped out. After finishing up my Romance Writing course with the wonderful Priscilla Kissinger back in August, I have been planning that bad boi to the max! Last year, I just winged it. Although it got finished and I got that wonderful cover photo for my Facebook page, the writing started to get way harder at the end and I had to really push to make the deadline.

nano 2013

This time, I wanted to try to be prepared for anything and I followed her course to the last detail. One of the greatest gems in her teaching was the reference of A Natural History of the Romance Novel by Pamela Regis. She went over, in detail, the essential and optional elements of a romance novel and it really opened my eyes.

Essential Elements

  1. Society Defined-Show the world your characters live in and the problems within that world.
  2. The Meeting-The characters meet and it’s more fun when there is a problem.
  3. The Barrier or Conflict-Everything that tries to stop the heroine and hero from reaching their goals and their Happily Ever After (HEA). Super vital! Must have inner and outer conflicts.
  4. The Attraction-They belong together, but it simmers before it boils! Their attraction keeps them going as they battle those barriers and conflicts. All romances have that sexual tension so weave it in.
  5. The Declaration-They actual admit to their love! Whoo!
  6. The Point of Ritual Death-Something important to them has to be taken away. Doesn’t have to be an actual death.
  7. The Recognition-Each internal change (character growth) that was somehow spawned by the other is finally recognized by them. They see their inner conflicts for what they are and they make a choice: accept it, change it, or move on. This releases that inner conflict.
  8. The Betrothal-That HEA has been achieved and it makes you and the reader happy! Society has been changed (at least for them) and all conflicts overcome.

Optional Elements

  1. Wedding, Dance, or Fete-Party time! They won, so we all won! Celebrate for the resolution of the conflict.
  2. Scapegoat Exiled-If there is a butthead that kept you two mains from getting together and they don’t learn a lesson from their error, kick them out.
  3. The Bad Converted-The person who was against the heroine and hero getting together, but learns their error can be taken into the fold of happiness too.

Now, my definitions are pretty scarce, but I hope you get the idea.  Priscilla Kissinger can give you a much more in depth learning experience compared to my course notes if you want more. Using the famed work of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice throughout the lessons as an example really helped to light up the darkness too.



These pieces fit very well with Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet for movies, so if it was successful in two different mediums why not put them to work? His work was so awesome I had to read all of his Save the Cat books. I used the beat sheet for my comic and it really helped me in getting it fleshed out (although I still need to work on laying out the script so I know how many pages it is going to be).

Here are 10 tips I can give you if you want to jump in this month (at least it’s stuff that works for me):

1. Put on some music but not stuff you listen to all the time. Music seems to really open up my imagination. Listening to a mix of ol’ skool, dubstep, moombahcore, classical, and many others can really do that to you. My YouTube Music Mix playlist is always expanding and I don’t think it will ever stop. Considering I got my idea for writing my comic VuDu Legends from it, why would it stop? But, I have to keep myself from playing things I know very well. The reason is simple. When I’m bouncing my head, singing along and trying not to make too much noise while dancing in my chair, I’m not really writing too much. So, those wonderful ideas I get can be pushed aside when I’m figuring out some way to drop along with the beat. My fiance makes music so I can always get something new from Z too!



Isn’t he a cutie!

2. Read the pep talks. Every week there are new pep talks available from NaNoWriMo and they are from some of the best of the best authors today! I mean Jim Butcher will be there on Week 4! You know, the author of The Dresden Files. Can’t wait to read over his tips (and do you see that picture, hotness, don’t tell my fiance)!

3. Go ol’ skool and write by hand. Get out that super comfy pencil or pen and that strange blue-lined, pale apparatus and put some words down. I sometimes find that looking at the screen can seem daunting. So, since I write at a slant with my paper turned sideways (weird, I know) there’s not much white space to see. Plus, doing it by hand helps my brain in the creative juicing process for some reason.

4. Do it for yourself. Everyone has a story to be told and there is always someone who wants to read it. If you have an idea, write it down and help it grow. Many folks think that since I get all ridiculous with my writing schedule in November it’s too much work and they don’t have the time. I call BS! Even though the challenge is for 50,000 words no one has to make that their personal goal. Just write what you can and set your own goal. It could be just to finish what you started or to get that idea out of your head so it can stop nagging you. Here are 10 reasons you should participate in NaNoWriMo. Whatever the reason, do it, do it now!

5. Writing everywhere! Have a note pad or something available to write on all over the house, work, and where ever else you frequent (pen should be attached to you anyway). Ideas come all the time and sometimes they won’t stay still long enough for me to rummage around for a pen and something to write on. Stay prepared!

6. Set your region and join fellow writers! I joined my region, NaNoLanta, around the middle of the month last year and wished I had done it sooner. They had such fun things planned throughout the whole month and I could have joined them at the start. But, alas, work happened and I couldn’t make it to any other outings. Not this year though! I will be out and about! You know, writing alongside fellow writers.

7. Take a break. I schedule times to wright and it’s mandatory for me to schedule times to take a break. Do something else you want to do and don’t think about the word count of the day. Play a game, cook something sweet, watch a movie or even take a nap. One of my favorite things to do is watch a really bad movie or show for laughs (Sharknado, come on you know I had to mention it!). Netflix if full of them! I will say that sometimes I find a good premise for a story from a few of them. There is also the occasional good movie with low ratings that keeps me really interested (The Monkey’s Paw). The real gems are the ones that have a good mixture of both like Cockneys vs. Zombies.

8. Set some goals and reward yourself. If you need motivation, put something up for grabs. Like chocolate or bacon. Those two always make me run 5k’s, which I have done for the chocolate at least. Putting them up for grabs when I meet a big goal works for me!

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Hot Chocolate Run Atlanta 2014!

Hot Chocolate Run 2014! (Yep, my pant leg got in my sock some how).

But, I didn’t care!

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Hot Chocolate Run Atlanta 2014!

9. Exercise, no for real, get moving. Go outside, breath in that brisk air and run amok in your neighborhood! Well, don’t go crazy, just get up and do something physical. This usually loosens up my body which is tense from sitting at a desk for long periods of time. It also helps my mind in stepping out of the bog and freeing up my thoughts. Now, I usually do find myself running amok, but it is with my boxing coach Ty Morrell of TD Athletics. He can be a beast, but he knows what he’s doing. Now I just have to convince my aching muscles of that fact.

10. Change your perspective. Sometimes there seems to be no solution to a problem in the plot. No matter how much I plan I know I will run into something that will have the potential of keeping me up all night. To battle that, I will switch to another character to get a fresh point of view. Since I’m working on a romance it will be easy to work through my heroine and hero. They are from very different backgrounds so they see things differently. It has helped before so I know it will help again.

Well, that’s all the tips I have for now. I know they are all over the place, but that’s life for you. Inspiration and options come from everywhere and writing is no different. Got to get those recipes to you all somehow right? After a week has passed I will be posting more tips as I remember and come across them. Well, happy writing!