Happy Halloween!

That’s crazy, isn’t it? It’s only the first week of October and already everything is suddenly Halloween crazy. Pumpkin spice everything is all around, you can’t escape it. But in the writing world, we are all looking to November and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

Do you participate in the annual word fest?

I have to admit, I never have. Somehow the timing of it just never worked out for me. But this year it’s actually going to coincide with my schedule, thanks to me being about a month late with all that I’d wanted to do and get done since the summer. So, yes, I’m going to join in the fun this year. I might even make it official and sign up on the website.

Of course, the one thing that a writer has to do in order to win at NaNoWriMo is to plan. Even if you’re a seat-of-your-pants writer, some planning is necessary in order to write 50,000 words in one month. It actually takes more than dedication and accountability, although they are definitely vital parts of the equation as well, to write that much in one month. (Need I mention that my new Writer’s Journal would be absolutely perfect for NaNoWriMo? It helps you organize what you’re writing every day, what you’ve accomplished and gives you a place to track your words/pages/time, however you do it).

So, naturally, to that end, I’m going to do what I think I’ve done in the past, but definitely not for a while, which is to give you pointers on planning—Story Structure, Hero’s Journey, Character Development, and World Building. To get you started, here’s a free copy of my How to Get Started worksheet (I was giving it away for the Author Success Planning Fest which I told you about last week, so I thought I should offer it to you as well).

For this week, though, I’m going to talk briefly about editing, because that’s where I am right now. I’m deep into editing the sixth book in my Ladies’ Wagering Whist Society Series.

So, what am I doing? What am I looking for?

  1. Character growth
  2. Conflict
  3. Setting/people described
  4. Moving toward or away from characters’ goals
  5. Building those arcs!

I’ve got my Excel spreadsheet all set up:

I’m looking to be sure I’ve got significant conflict in every scene and whether that conflict impacts or affects my character’s development or shows another aspect of their personality. I’m looking to make sure I’ve got the setting described in most scenes (granted, I don’t think it’s necessary to thoroughly describe it in every scene especially if we’ve been there before). I’m looking to make sure that at least one character’s goal is being addressed—either moving toward the goal or away from it. And I need to make sure that my romance is progressing smoothly—not too fast and not too slow.

I need to be sure that those character arc and story arcs are moving along as they should be. I want my reader to fall in love with my characters, but I don’t want the story to be completely predictable (although there is some inevitability, it is genre fiction, after all).

Once I’m done my first read-through, during which I’m making necessary changes as I move forward, I’ll read through the book once more—aloud. It’s reading it aloud that really tells you how smooth the writing is and how authentic the dialogue is.

After going through the book twice, I think it’ll be ready to send off to my professional editor who will, no doubt, find many more issues than I could. She’ll be able to see where my characters are not behaving in a manner that is true to them. She’ll notice any inconsistencies in the story (he did have blue eyes on p3, why are they green on p65?). And, of course, she’ll check my grammar and punctuation.

I’ve got four weeks to finish editing this book and get started plotting the next one in time to start writing it on November 1st.

Next week, I’ll take you for a walk through my plotting method and we’ll discuss character development because, in my opinion, that’s where every great story begins.