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A blog about story, character and plot structure. A writer by night, by day I help other writers achieve their dreams of completing a worthy project.
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1. Toughest Part of NaNoWriMo… So Far

You're beginning to falter. Tearing your hair out and your story apart. Looking for reasons to procrastinate rather than write. Sighing often. Telling yourself why bother.

Don't worry. It's not you. You're at the Crisis point in the month-long quest to write a story with a plot from beginning to end. Nearly 3 weeks in makes for the 3/4 mark of the month and as you know, the 3/4 mark of anything, according to the Universal Story is the Dark Night -- a time of breakdown for a possible break through.

You're being tested. Writing is not for the faint-hearted. Go for a walk. Meditate. Chant affirmations. Do whatever you need to keep your energy and spirit high. Slog through this time, knowing you're nearly there.

You've heard about people who give up right before something amazing would have happened. Don't let this be you. Persevere! You can do this.

This is also a time filled with great emotion and the need for courage to keep at your passion. Whether you have gathered together with other writers for NaNoWriMo or are persevering alone, the biggest test this month is staying passionately loyal to your goal and not giving up when challenged.

Today I write!

For plot prompts to move your writing everyday and reach each major turning point: The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing. To complete write your story in a month, complete 4 prompts everyday. (As one writer proclaims: The PW Book of Prompts is my lighted path…)

For plot help and resources during NaNoWriMo

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

0 Comments on Toughest Part of NaNoWriMo… So Far as of 11/20/2014 10:18:00 AM
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2. Weeklong Blog Tour for PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month beginning December 1st

Thanks to a very generous benefactor, we are taking PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month on what appears to be developing into a massive blog tour beginning December 1st through the 5th!

Seven years ago, I began offering the beta version of PlotWriMo for novelist word drunk from NaNoWriMo. Over the years I continued refining and perfecting the steps to help writers revise all those words generated in November into a compelling story with a plot (and all other novelists and memoirists and screenwriters alike struggling to create a pleasing form for their readers)

Earlier this year, I partnered with Jill Corcoran who brought her insight and love of concept and knowledge of the inside of publishing. Together we created an entire video series of the program. The feedback and "ah ha" moments we have received have been enormously rewarding and makes all the time and hard work worthwhile.

Sample of feedback:
"Jill (video 4, I think) explained what agents meant when they say "They didn't connect" and it was like a lightbulb had been screwed in my head-- I failed to meet all of the essential elements of a scene. There was always something about my former MS that I could never pinpoint that felt off, and that was just it! I needed more emotional development, conflict/ tension, dramatic action and clear goals PER scene."

"I watched the Revise Your Novel in a Month videos and really began to understand the difference between crisis and climax and the key ways to develop each part of the plot."

"PlotWriMo is the closest “formula” for structuring a book I’ve ever discovered. It’s like an algebra equation for writing – if you’re missing any of the energetic markers you can’s solve for X."

"It’s helped me re-envision my own work and I can’t stop myself from dissecting every movie and book I’ve read since."

"I've learned a lot through the PlotWriMo series. I've always struggled with revision, but the PlotWriMo series has helped me organize my revision so that I am going deeper than I ever have before at making my story shine."

"Now, what did I learn from the videos? Goodness, what did I not? It's all about the structure. Being a pantser doesn't work when you are revising (Not sure it would work for me - ever), but you have to be clear in your journey. I also learned to forgive myself. To keep writing. And that we can learn from our mistakes and become better writers."

"I watched PlotWriMo and learned about EMs, concept and that the antagonist OWNS the middle."

“Ah, ha” Moment: The exercise of writing down all of the themes, and getting down to the grittier ones. And when I found my darker theme was about loss, and the threat of losing someone you love. I couldn’t believe when I went back and looked at the Energy Markers and found that common theme. I’m working on deepening the scenes with metaphors and thematic significance."

"Don't start drafting until you're happy with the concept and markers."

"As for what I learned, viewing both the crisis and the climax from my antagonist’s point of view gave my story dramatic action and the depth it needed to bind the story and pull in the reader."

"Yet my greatest aha moment came with the challenge of writing the concept, giving my story definition. As a young woman I took my family on some exciting adventures, wounds and all, and the only dream still intact in the end was my passion and desire to be a writer. I couldn’t just throw out my concept because it wasn’t good enough, or my life wouldn’t be either. Crafting my concept, meant validating what I had done and why, all the parts and pieces."

"I really had an "aha moment" when Martha Alderson talked about the end mirroring the beginning."

The icing on the proverbial cake was the news that one writer secured an agent (having the amazing opportunity to chose from 3 offering her contracts). As she writes: "No word of lie - it is absolutely thanks to Jill Corcoran and Martha Alderson! The last round of revisions changed everything! I just thank god I have the videos and future classes for other books! I have worked like a dog on this book, but the videos and Martha's book really changes everything. The advanced workshop kicked my butt in the best way possible and made me really rethink some things and made the work so much better!"

The tour begins December 1st through the 5th so if you'd like to add your blog to the tour, please sign up ASAP. 

We're using the opportunity to spread the word about writing and revising stories and about A Path to Publishing in general. Jill and I will visit all the participating blogs, comment and award prizes. (If you'd like to simply follow along on the tour, I'll list the participating blogs during the tour.)

See you soon!

For help about the Energetic Markers to write toward every week of NaNoWriMo.
The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories

For plot prompts to move your writing everyday and reach each major turning point: The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing. To complete write your story in a month, complete 4 prompts everyday. (As one writer proclaims: The PW Book of Prompts is my lighted path…)

For plot help and resources during NaNoWriMo

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

0 Comments on Weeklong Blog Tour for PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month beginning December 1st as of 11/17/2014 12:33:00 PM
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3. Where You Need to Be Now for NaNoWriMo -- End of Week 2

In an earlier post, I shared how to schedule your writing time during NaNoWriMo and the month of November to give you an idea of where you need to be each week and ensure you're not simply writing lots of words but writing to reach the climax of your story by month's end.

Tomorrow marks the end of Week 2. This means you should be writing the Recommitment scene today and prepared tomorrow to write into the darkest part of the middle where the antagonists in the exotic world are the most fierce.

For help about the Energetic Markers to write toward every week.
The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories

For plot prompts to move your writing everyday and reach each major turning point: The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing. To complete write your story in a month, complete 4 prompts everyday. (As one writer proclaims: The PW Book of Prompts is my lighted path…)

For plot help and resources during NaNoWriMo

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

0 Comments on Where You Need to Be Now for NaNoWriMo -- End of Week 2 as of 11/14/2014 1:27:00 PM
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4. Characters in Action-Driven Novels and Those in Character-Driven Stories

Just as some writers excel at creating believable and intriguing characters and others at creating exciting and meaningful action, some characters are better at opening up and showing emotion in stories while others excel at taking action.


With the belief that we write best when we understand our writing strengths and weaknesses, I include how to determine whether you're an action-driven writer or a character-driven writer or a thematically-driven writer or a combination of all of the above in The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master.

In my work with writers, what I find fascinating is that often character-driven writers who love to delve into the characters' internal landscape often write about characters who before moving on when faced with failure / challenges / obstacles in the middle:
  • Slow down
  • Reflect how they are doing
  • Evaluate their behavior and reactions 
  • Look at what went wrong from all angles
  • Learn from their mistakes
While action-driven writers often develop characters who are more impulsive and when faced with failure / challenges / obstacles in the middle:
  • Don't tend to stop to evaluate what went wrong
  • Think less
  • Act faster 
  • Multi-task
  • Focus on the achieving the goal
In other words, often writers who excel at goal-setting for their characters and love action seem to create characters who move and act quickly and often impulsively to reach the reward at the end.

Writers who excel at creating characters who feel seem to create characters who think and ponder and evaluate on their way to reaching the reward at the end.

Which sort of writer are you?

Uncertain what to write next in a story with a plot? For plot prompts to move your writing to each major turning point and reach the end: The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing

For plot help and resources during NaNoWriMo

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

0 Comments on Characters in Action-Driven Novels and Those in Character-Driven Stories as of 11/10/2014 11:55:00 AM
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5. Where You Need to be Now for NaNoWriMo

In an earlier post, I shared how to schedule your writing time during NaNoWriMo and the month of November to give you an idea of where you need to be each week and ensure you're not simply writing lots of words but writing to reach the climax of your story by month's end.

Today marks the end of Week 1. This means you should be writing the End of the Beginning scene today and prepared to write into the middle to the exotic world of the antagonist beginning tomorrow.

For help about the Energetic Markers to write toward every week.
The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories

For plot prompts to move your writing to each major turning point: The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing

For plot help and resources during NaNoWriMo

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

0 Comments on Where You Need to be Now for NaNoWriMo as of 11/7/2014 1:13:00 PM
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6. Do You Excel at Developing Characters, Action, Both in Stories?

Many writers develop one plotline at a time and they tend to begin with the Character Emotional Development line or the Dramatic Action line, while putting off the Thematic Significance line to the end.


Most writers have a preference for one style over the other. The plot line you first choose to carry through the entire first draft is most often directly tied to your strength; strength deteremines preference.

Are you adept at developing complex, interesting, and quirky characters? Or, do you excel at page-turning action? Perhaps you're one of the fortunate writers and find ease in creating both the Character Emotional Development plotline and the Dramatic Action plotline simultaneously.

Broadly speaking, writers who prefer writing action-driven stories focus on logical thinking, rational analysis and accuracy. Action-driven writers approach writing as a linear function and see the story in its parts. Action-driven writers like structure and usually pre-plot or create an outline before writing. They also have little trouble expressing themselves in words.

On the other hand, writers who write character-driven stories tend to focus on aesthetics and feelings, creativity and imagination. These writers enjoy playing with the beauty of language. They are more intuitive, and like to work things out on the page. Character-driven writers are holistic and subjective. They can synthesize new information, but are somewhat (or more) disorganized and random. In their eyes, the story is seen as the whole. They may know what they mean but often have trouble finding the right words.

Not sure which kind of writer you are? Take the test 

For plot help and resources

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

0 Comments on Do You Excel at Developing Characters, Action, Both in Stories? as of 11/3/2014 11:13:00 AM
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7. How to Schedule Your NaNoWriMo Writing Time for Success

The idea of thousands and thousands of writers writing together as one beginning in just a couple of days is sublime.

Many of you will use the support of other writers to keep you writing. Others will take daily walks. Some will plot as you write. Others have detailed Plot Planners at the ready as you write, every word a joy. I give thanks for journey we travel together.

NaNoWriMo Schedule:

11/1 - 11/7 -- Write the Beginning 1/4 of your story
11/7 -- Write the End of the Beginning scene
11/8 -- 11/14 Write the 1st 1/2 of the Middle
11/14 -- Write the Recommitment scene
11/15 -- 11/21 Write the 2nd 1/2 of the Middle
11/21 -- Write the Crisis
11/22 -- 11/28 Write the End 1/4
11/27 -- Write the Climax
11/28 -- Write the Resolution
11/29 -- 11/30 Catch-up

(NOTE: For now, don't worry about your plot or if you're starting in the right place or any of the details. We'll get to that in December. For now, give yourself permission to completely give yourself to writing your story.)

For plot help before, during and after writing a novel in a month, take my Plot Whisperer books along: 

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

0 Comments on How to Schedule Your NaNoWriMo Writing Time for Success as of 10/30/2014 11:19:00 AM
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8. The Goal of NaNoWriMo and Writing a Novel in a Month

The goal next month is not to write a polished novel. Next month's goal and every fast-writing goal is simply to write the barebones, foundation, design, essence, promise of a story -- words, lots and lots of words -- with the idea of going back and revising after the month is up.

Begin now:
1) Visualize yourself letting go, writing with abandon, sleeping, eating, breathing your story for an entire month, becoming obsessive of your writing time and compulsive about writing, letting the real world drop away as you fully enter the exotic world of your story. Without judgement, criticism or shame, see yourself writing for the pure joy of putting one word after another in the spirit of creating something out of nothing but a fragment, a wisp, a dream…

2) Clear your calendar of everything next month.

3) Schedule in your writing, sleeping, writing, eating, writing, plotting, dreaming, writing time.

4) See yourself writing everyday joyfully.

(NOTE: don't worry about your plot or if you're starting in the right place or any of the details. We'll get to that in December. For now, give yourself permission to completely give yourself to writing your story.

For plot help before, during and after writing a novel in a month, take my Plot Whisperer books along: 

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises




0 Comments on The Goal of NaNoWriMo and Writing a Novel in a Month as of 10/24/2014 3:42:00 PM
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9. Expectation, Event, Reaction

This month, as you pre-plot for NaNoWriMo, keep in mind that every story and plot idea you brainstorm encompasses 3+ potential scenes:


1) Anticipation
          Anticipation of an upcoming event, creates curiosity and sets up tension in the reader not knowing, will the protagonist be successful or not?

2) Event
          The actual event the protagonist has been anticipating with expectation creates external dramatic action

3) Reaction
          How the protagonist reacts to the event gives clues to the reader about how she internalizes what just happened

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!

For pre-plotting tips and tricks and how to write a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises


0 Comments on Expectation, Event, Reaction as of 10/23/2014 12:45:00 PM
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10. How to Write Even When You Feel Uninspired and Down

Every writer I know, it seems, is either preparing now to write a fast draft during NaNoWriMo, has a jump-start on November by speed-writing now to finish by the end of the year or has given up.

With novels anywhere from 50,000 (slight) to over 100,000 words, writing a fast draft gets you to the end faster. Problem at that point is knowing you're not finished -- not by a long-shot.

One of the biggest shocks for novelists just starting out is the realization they may have to write more than one draft -- several even. You get the end of draft 1 euphoric, only to understand how much work is still left to be done. You want it to be over. You want your story perfect in the next rewrite. You even work through all 30 exercises and 5.5 hours of video instruction during PlotWriMo, revision your entire story, only to rewrite again. And perhaps again and again.

Begin now by accepting that the fast draft you write now, you may have to rewrite all those thousands of words again later. Then put your head down and get to writing. Finish by the end of the year.

Writing a fast draft demands consistent and powerful writing.

Consistent writing is a tough one to achieve for writers who insist they can only write when they’re inspired to write. Consistent writing means showing up  to write whether you're inspired or dull, frightened or brave, energetic or lazy. You show up and write anyway.

A consistent writing regime is helpful, especially so writing a fast draft. A tight deadline of a month facilitates fast writing -- no time for procrastination, no time to wait for inspiration. Every spare moment must be devoted to writing or pre-plotting to succeed at completing a fast draft in a month.

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!

For pre-plotting tips and tricks and how to write a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising:


0 Comments on How to Write Even When You Feel Uninspired and Down as of 10/22/2014 11:38:00 AM
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11. 3 Steps to Pre-Plot for NaNoWriMo -- Part One

Begin pre-plotting your story for NaNoWriMo with the 1st exercise in The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories.

1) Brainstorm how all three major plot lines in your story will evolve from the beginning into the middle and all the way to the end of the story

2) Imagine how your protagonist's traits change / transform over the course of your novel as a result of the dramatic action. Use that to create a transformation summary for the protagonist of your story

3) Jot your notes on a Plot Plannerfor a bird's eye view of your story

Strive for story ideas that keep the suspense and curiosity high with clearly defined goals and ticking clocks. Scenes linked by cause and effect. Provocative themes explored. Historical details / exotic locales and unusual lifestyles and breath-taking occupations.

Terrific! Right?

Though the dramatic action plot stays true to the structure of the Universal story, the character emotional development plot is devoid of its most important element = no character transformation in the end. None. Not one character. All the characters are exactly the same at the end of the story as they started out in the beginning.

Don't let this problem befall your story.

Begin pre-plotting for NaNoWriMo, with the ultimate character transformation in mind. Start there. 

For more pre-plotting tips and tricks and how to write a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising:


0 Comments on 3 Steps to Pre-Plot for NaNoWriMo -- Part One as of 10/20/2014 10:11:00 AM
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12. How to Create a Plot Planner -- Part 1

Lots of writers are finding a Plot Planner the perfect place to stand back and plan and organize the plots, characters, themes, romance of their stories in preparation for NaNoWriMo2014.

To demonstrate how to make a Plot Planner, I took inspiration from the young character in Chef, a wonderful feel-good movie, who made a "vine." I found the idea of taking little videos and making them into a bit bigger video a fun way to get a point across in one of those only-on-Youtube delightful ways (keep in mind, I have no idea what I was doing…).

My interpretation of a vine here, showing how to make a plot planner.

In How to Create a Plot Planner -- Part 2, a longer version with an actual logical sequence is coming.

Lots of examples of Plot Planners on Pinterest.

For more tips and tricks to pre-plotting and writing a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 
1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising:



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13. Pre-NaNoWriMo Pre-Plotting Tip for the Middle and End of the Novel

When thinking / pre-plotting your story for NaNoWriMo, keep in mind that the middle is more than an exotic world of the antagonists and to create conflicts and challenges for the protagonist. Yes, the dilemmas and setbacks she endures in the middle provide drama and page-turnability.

The struggles to survive and go forward also hold the gifts of new skills and abilities that will serve her well at the climax as she begins to adapt her thinking to the demands of her new reality.

In resisting the changes required of her in the middle to succeed, she struggles. After the crisis / dark night around the 3/4 mark of the story, she becomes conscious of all that has come before. In that new light, she understands the strength and courage she's gained in her suffering and the freedom afforded her.

That way, in the middle of next month, when you're floundering for depth in your writing, you'll find these notes for scene expansion opportunities. And, by the end of the month, when you're exhausted and spent, you'll have scene ideas how best to show the integration of these new skills and beliefs.

For more tips and tricks to pre-plotting and writing a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 
1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising:

0 Comments on Pre-NaNoWriMo Pre-Plotting Tip for the Middle and End of the Novel as of 1/1/1900
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14. Dancing between Plotting the Overall Story Level and Writing at the Word Level

Writing at the word level is an act of grace for writers, especially so writers who prefer turning inward rather than outward in their writing lives (inward-writing / outward-selling) and love to withdraw to the refuge of listening only to the muse. Diving deep into ideas that excite you makes you feel vital and alive. Welcoming in just the right words and images and emotions and creating beauty through your words becomes a meditation, a devotion.


(I include the image to the right because the very talented Victoria at Whit andWare Design just shared this banner option for my ezine and I wanted to share it!)

Plotting at the overall story level, however, is more of a challenge. To step back and consider the story in its entirety requires the integration of themes and transformation, excitement and suspense, love and connection. Rather than through discovery at the word level, pre-plotting and plotting and testing your plot often demands stepping outside your place of comfort and taking risks with your story, big risks.

For those of you following along in the The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing in our final surge to the climax, with the novel I resisted for so long, as in all things, the actual doing (writing the scenes up to and including the Crisis / Dark Night) turns out to be a breeze compared to the storm caused by all my resistance. I hope you've had the same feelings of relief to have those scenes written no matter who sketchy or trite or skimming the surface… for now. Of course, now we face the daunting challenge of lifting our stories to a satisfying climax. Ah, well, conflict is inherent in all stories and in all writers' lives and often our personal lives, too.

Today, rather than write, I'm filming a vine as I design the Plot Planner for the story. If all goes smoothly (though, as in most things I seem to undertake, I have no idea what I'm doing!) I'll share the short video on my Youtube channel later today.

Oh, and if you're planning to write 50,000 words next month with NaNoWriMo, following are plot and writing resources to help you prepare:

1) Plot your story step-by-step with the help of The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories

2) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
named BEST BOOKS FOR WRITERS by Poets and Writers. The author provides insight on how to create works of fiction with powerful stories and focuses on how to devise a Universal Plot, plot lines and subplots, compelling scenes, and character transformation.

*****Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot reinforces daily writing practice and allows for more productivity in your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts in The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today I write! Rather, today I plot!

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15. It's Not Too Late to Achieve Your Writing Goal for 2014

Life spins a bit faster in anticipation of year's end. You intend to finish your novel, memoir, screenplay this year - simply finish. Fall is the time to write fast.

Take October to pre-plot or re-plot your novel, November to finish and December to revise. Sounds simple enough.

Forget the outcome for now. What you write doesn't have to be perfect or brilliant or even very good. In fact, the sloppier the better. For the next month and a half, simply focus on writing fast everyday and moving between writing and standing back to consider your story as a whole all the way to the end.

The more enjoyable the process of writing for you, the more likely you are to write. See a path to writing everyday you can. Write fast.

Take the PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month Pre-Challenge:

You have 1 Month and 2 weeks to get a draft written in time for PlotWriMo. Beginning December 1st, follow the exercises in the PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month video series and re"vision" and redefine the plot arc of your story.
is custom designed to ensure your success even during the busiest time of the year. (**NOTE: this is the final weekend to buy PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month video series for $75. Price goes up on Monday!)

Begin 2015 ready for a powerful rewrite, to submit your work to contests and agents and/or to self-publish your novel.

~~~~~
More resources to support you in your pre-challenge:
1) Plot your story step-by-step with the help of
The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories

2) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
named BEST BOOKS FOR WRITERS by Poets&Writers. The author provides insight on how to create works of fiction with powerful stories and focuses on how to devise a Universal Plot, plot lines and subplots, compelling scenes, and character transformation.

*****Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot reinforces daily writing practice and allows for more productivity in your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts in The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today, I write.

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16. New Ideas on How to Plot and Write the Middle of a Novel

I talk about the Middle of a novel, memoir, screenplay as an exotic world ruled by the antagonists. Both an exotic world and antagonists provide lots of scene opportunities while also creating and building rising tension, suspense, excitement and curiosity to replicate the energy of the Universal Story and keep the reader engaged.

A couple of years ago, based on novels, memoirs and screenplays I've deconstructed, I posted the following 8 tips how to keep the story moving forward and create page-turnability throughout the middle of your story.

1) call in the antagonists
2) create an exotic world
3) begin middle with overarching conflict or suspense plot point
4) ask yourself: because that happens, what happens next?
5) add a great subplot(s)
6) know the crisis
7) know the climax
8) begin filling in and deepening character flaw

Many of these tips rely on tension to create an energetic forward momentum.

Then, I delighted in watching Chef, a comedy-drama film written, produced and directed by Jon Favreau, create the same rising energy of the Universal Story without any or rather with only one antagonist.

The music, the pacing, the crowds, the dialogue, the love kept amping up the energy of the middle as effectively albeit more light-heartedly than all the usual negativity created by antagonists interfering with the protagonist's forward movement to her goal.

The overarching dramatic question developed at the beginning of the middle of the film pulls us forward though the external dramatic action in each scene keeps us connected, engaged and enchanted.

For an in-depth resource to all the questions to ask about how to write the middle of your story, refer to The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories.

Today I write!

~~~~
For pre-plotting ideas and how to write a fast first draft:

1) Re-read the The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master book and follow the instructions how to pre-plot your story

3) Complete all the exercises and fill in all the templates (plot planners included) in The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories 

4) Forget next month for now and enjoy this month writing or revising what you're currently working on and take with you into next month The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing for daily prompts to guide you how to write a story with a plot from beginning to end.

  ~~~~~~~~
If you simply wish to continue writing and revising and are looking for plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:

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17. How to Pre-Plot & Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month

It's early October and already writers look to the future in anticipation of writing 50,000 words of their novel during the month of November.


Lots of writers will jump into the writing frenzy last minute and by-the-seat-of-their-pants with or without a plot idea. Other writers will spend this month dreaming. Writers who love to to organize their lives for the greatest efficiency and less stress will spend October pre-plotting. Then there are writers who take things slowly and methodically, needing to consider all their options and their willingness to subject themselves to the overstimulation, disliking conflict and even a bit shy about committing to the challenge.

I, for one, love pre-plotting. No writing required. Stand back and imagine the big picture thematically, dramatically and emotionally. Plot ideas on a Plot Planner. Add pictures of characters and settings and details that stimulate your senses and energy to write about them.

Pre-plotting feels like an artistic pursuit compared to the grueling challenge if you do decide to write 50,000 words next month. A warm-up and lovely way to ease into the creative process. Showing up without any pressure of word count or deadlines. Simply time spent with the muse and plotting out what comes to you.

Today I write, and I pre-plot.

If you'd like pre-plotting ideas and how to write a fast first draft:

1) Join me October 9th for How to Pre-Plot and Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month: The Benefits of Writing a Fast Draft from Beginning to End 

2) Re-read the The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master book and follow the instructions how to pre-plot your story

3) Complete all the exercises and fill in all the templates (plot planners included) in The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories 

4) Forget next month for now and enjoy this month writing or revising what you're currently working on and take with you into next month The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing for daily prompts to guide you how to write a story with a plot from beginning to end.
  ~~~~~~~~
If you simply want to continue writing and revising and are looking for plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:

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18. The Power of Transforming Beliefs to Reach the End

She sees herself and all of life differently after the Crisis. The vision that inspires her to change / transform lives at the dream level. People who no longer fit in the new vision and illusions she's lugged with her everywhere drop away.

Freed energy fires her to act. Changing / transforming the beliefs that keep her small and wounded and scared and angry is much more difficult. Rather than instantaneous because of power of the epiphany, old beliefs are stubborn beliefs. Thus, the steep line to the climax on the Plot Planner.

The way forward is unknown and treacherous while she is at least familiar with the past / a way of life. When she / you turn sluggish, reinvigorate her / your concrete, tangible goals. Goal setting from here on out is important for her to reach her goal and for you to reach your dream.

Write your goal in red lipstick on your bathroom mirror. Remember what's truly important to you now that you know.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:

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19. Every Writer's Mantra

Show don't tell is every writer's mantra and one of the first stumbling blocks a beginning writer encounters. Come time to revise before writing the next draft, writers with little background in the craft of writing a story with a plot find they've told the story rather than shown the story through scenes. Both writing in summary and in all dialogue, writing from a distance seems easier to manage. Even in first person POV, writers often unwittingly separate from the intimacy of sensuous story moments by narrating or telling the story.


This is fine, in the first draft. More than fine actually. I advise writing your story anyway you can from beginning all the way to end before going back and rewriting. This way you know what happens at the end which directly influences what comes in the beginning.

As you begin to understand how to write a scene, you find yourself overcompensating by following up your scenes with explanatory summaries.

Plot tip: Trust your writing
Plot tip: Trust your reader
Plot tip: Never repeat. Deepen.

You also struggle with issues that come up about the overall presentation of the story.

What POV is best for your story?
Where to put memories?
How to incorporate flashbacks
What is the optimum length your readers will enjoy?
What to put in?
What to leave out?
What are you trying to say; what do all the words add up to?
What will your reader be left with?

These are questions every novelist, writer grapples with when learning the craft of writing a story with a plot.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For help: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Ready to rewrite your story? First revise. 

  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
PlotWriMo help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.

PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

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20. 5 Tips How to Write and Sell a Picture Book with a Plot

I'm jumping for joy, having finished filming How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot with Jill Corcoran, literary agent for some of today's finest picture books authors.

After months of creating the program, exercises and 7 scripts for each of us based on the Picture Book Workshops and Advanced Picture Book Workshops in the Plot Whisperer Workbook series we taught earlier in the year, rehearsing and filming, I'm excited and proud to announce the official launch of our latest A Path to Publishing video series.

In the 7-video How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot, Jill offers up gems to writers who wants to sell their work to a publisher: a winning concept, memorable characters, exciting action and a meaningful take-away. I share examples of popular picture books with plots and tips how to plot and write one for yourself. We offer 28 exercises designed to fire your story ideas and current writing sky-rocketing!

I analyze flap copies for plot. Jill sees a compelling concept.

I deconstruct picture book plots. Jill looks for unique take-aways.

We're a match made for this series.

Five tips I gleaned during the filming of the series:

1) Writers for all ages and genres benefit from the plot clarity presented in a picture book. Minus subplots, the primary plots of Dramatic Action, Character Emotional Development and Thematic Significance and a Heart Connection shine.

2) A picture book dummy is like a Plot Planner in book form. With the 3 major turning points plotted on the appropriate page, knowing what to fill in on the other 7-8 pages for each of the beginning, middle (double) and end becomes clear

3) Logicals are paramount in picture books. Minus descriptions of authentic details, internal monologue and dense narration that can muddle story flaws often found in novels, any break in the logical plot progression in a picture is glaring.

4) When intent on improving your craft, practice writing a story a plot and analyzing prize-winning plots in pictures books involves much fewer pages than writing and analyzing novels.

5) A fresh concept, great craft and unique voice are the anthems of great writing of every kind

Today I write!

No matter your genre or preferred audience, I invite you to watch How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot. Do the exercises. Join our Facebook group and ask questions that come up in the series and your share progress.

Along with How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot, we also offer in our Video Workshops Series ~~ PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For plot help: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Ready to rewrite your story? First revise. 

  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
PlotWriMo help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.

PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

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21. 27-Step Plot Tutorial: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay?

The first day of filming the 27-Step Plot Tutorial: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? Youtube series was September 2010.


I remember putting that 1st video up on Youtube, mortified by the yapping dog in the background and well-aware of how distracting for viewers who struggle to mask out background interference. Still, I knew if I didn't put up the video, flaws and all, I'd be waiting for perfection forever.

Fire ahead four light-years filled with growth for the series, me as the Plot Whisperer and personally. On the anniversary of that first video, the number of views on Plot Whisperer Youtube channel crossed over 200,000.

My birthday present to the series and to you and writers everywhere is a spruced up version of the series. The 27 steps remain the same. This time, no distractions + one plotting exercise per a video.

For more about the what's happening with the series:
27-Step Plot Tutorial: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay?

Thank you for your patience as I re-film the series. In the meantime, for help plotting your novel, memoir, screenplay, read the Plot Whisperer books: 


I recommend writers writing for all ages watch How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot. Picture books are without subplots, thus allowing the primary plot lines to shine through. Try the exercises.

Or try another in the Plot Video Workshops Series ~~ PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month ~~ 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

Join the Facebook group and ask questions that come up in either series and share your progress.

Today I write!

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22. Crisis and the Universal Story

Beware: Do not succumb to a personal crisis as protagonist reaches darkest moment. Evoke the emotion in your writing

The recent tweet elicited a question by Laura: What do you mean by this? This is intriguing.

Way back in January 2013, in honor of the release of my most recent PW book: The Plot Whisperer Book of Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing (a Story with Plot from Beginning to End), I began writing a new novel using one or more prompts everyday. I invited you to join me in writing a story with a plot from beginning to end. Weekly, I shared insights into the creation and significance of the prompts.

On a personal level, writing gave me an escape from what was more and more becoming a disastrous living arrangement. Without going into detail, my life was falling apart.

As I approached the 3/4 mark writing my novel, the prompts daily drew me page-by-page nearer to the moment of disaster, crisis, dark night of what was developing into quite a dark story. My emotional state, refusing to accept any more drama, pain, hurt, betrayal, shame, disappointment, resisted. I stopped writing the story.

I couldn't, however, stop the personal crisis that had been growing incident by incident into a full-blown mess, stripping me of all the truths I'd lived my entire life and leaving me alone to sort through tattered illusions, every one of them.

After more than a year and lots of work and thanks in large part to my belief and understanding of the Universal Story, I've found peace. Finally, I'm ready to finish following the prompts to the end of The Plot Whisperer Book of Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing (a Story with Plot from Beginning to End) and not only write the crisis of my novel, write her triumph while fully embracing my own.

I invite you to join me. Dig out that story you never moved beyond the middle. That story you gave up when the middle muddled, the crisis loomed, the end mocked you, find it and dust it off. I'm taking this weekend to drag out my notes, organize the Plot Planner and my writing cave. I'm not going to read what I've already written. I know what's waiting and am finally ready to face and write the inevitable. Join me.

***Laura, this is just one example of what I mean by not letting a personal crisis strike. I write in depth about how your writing life often parallels your story development in The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:
Facebook group ask questions that come up in either series and share your progress.

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23. Plot is a Lot Like Sex: Beginnings Hook Readers/Audiences. Endings Create Fans

Recently, I tweeted one of my favorite bits of plot advice:
Beginnings hook readers. Endings create fans.



A writer tweeted back: Sounds a lot like sex. hehe.

This isn't the first time a writer has likened plot advice I give to sex.

The 4th Energetic Marker and crowning glory of the entire book, the Climax often elicits a comment or two about the parallels in the act of sex and ultimate release of energy to the climax of a story.

When such parallels are drawn, I simply smile in appreciation of how the Universal Story shows itself everywhere…

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:
Facebook group ask questions that come up in either series and share your progress.

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24. Above the Plot Planner Line Tension in Stories

When I'm not required to take notes in a Plot Consultation, I often create a mini-Plot Planner for myself to better "see" a writer's story and visually plot and follow along as she recounts scenes.


I cringe when I find the 2nd scene takes place around the dinner table with no conflict, tension, suspense or curiosity and the protagonist in control. Hating to write a scene under the Plot Planner line so early in the story, I celebrate when instead, I'm able to pop that same scene above the line because of what happens toward the end of the action.

The slow dinner scene ends with an object foreshadowed in a prior scene falling and threatening to expose the protagonist's secret, lie, irresponsibility, thus showing the protagonist no longer in control. His fear takes over thus moving this scene from quiet and safe to fraught with tension which earns the scene a place above the Plot Planner line. The short sense of normalcy (how the family interacts provides a glimpse into his backstory) offers us plenty of opportunities to compare who he projects himself when feeling safe and supported versus who he shows himself to be when stressed and uncertain.

Drawing a line by cause and effect, connecting one scene neatly to the next, I find nearly every scene is above the line in the first quarter of her story, proving to me that her promise to her reader is true -- this story is filled with external dramatic action and lots of ensuing chaos and mayhem, a page-turner, on the edge-of-your-seat-with-excitement sort of story, one any middle grade boy would be left clamoring for more.

Test your scenes by placing them one-by-one on a Plot Planner either above or below the line. Stand back and objectively assess the number and placement of slower, quieter scenes in relationship to more tension-filled, exciting scenes.

Today I write.
~~~~~~~~
For plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:
Facebook group ask questions that come up in either series and share your progress.

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25. Plot Prompts How to Write a Story with a Plot from Beginning to End

Getting back to the story I abandoned last year when the build-up to Dark Night Energetic Marker and crisis turned too emotional for me to write feels empowering now, a worthy tribute to my own personal climax.


To prepare, I flip through my worn and post-it noted copy of The Plot Whisperer Book of Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing (a Story with Plot from Beginning to End), searching for the prompt where I left off writing.

Thanks to the handy little Record section of the book, I spot my last entry and am greeted by Affirmation Prompt #52.

Each of the 120 prompts includes 1) an Affirmation Prompt, 2) a Plot Prompt appropriate for that particular place in a story with a plot and 3) a Writing Prompt.

The Affirmation invites me into a place of safety and I feel a rush of excitement to finish...

Join me and write that story you never finished. Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:

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