Nanowrimo 2015: Pants, Plot or Skeleton It?

It’s three days to the kick-off of Nanowrimo 2015 and as I pull together my prep notes, agonize over which characters will live and which will get nommed by zombies, I have to ask a critical question of those taking this leap with me:

Are you a plotter, pantser… or a member of my skeleton crew?


You’ll hear a lot from Nano types about those first two options, so let’s get them out of the way:

Pantser:  someone who flies by the seat of one’s pants and writes straight from the brain.  I did this for my first Nano experience.

Plotter:  someone who outlines the entire book in advance of the wacky, sleepless world of Nano.  Last year, I wrote Waiting For A Star To Fall this way.  It was the most I’ve outlined a project prior to starting.

Usually, though, I fall somewhere in the middle of these options.  This is where I propose my third option:  the Skeletoner.  What’s that, you ask?  Chances are, some of you Plotters out there are actually skeleton-style writers.

Skeletoner:  someone who roughly outlines the general arc of their novel, but feels free to deviate, add or shift the story as the spirit moves them.  Basically, they’re Pansters who need a loose framework to support their creativity.

One of the things that frustrated me with writing Star last year was having to adjust any changes I made like a ripple throughout the outline.  Granted, Star was one of those books that came together very neatly and the Muse made very few detours.  I do have to wonder, though, if the outline threw up roadblocks.

So I’m going back to what got me through so many writing projects in the past: the skeleton system.  I outline the book, sure, but what that really amounts to is rough mile markers and key scenes.  Is it subject to change?  Absolutely.  I’m already changing it in my skull as I write this.  Could I decide to add some wild new zombie slaughters along the way?  Why not?

What I have is a loose itinerary:  introduce characters; introduce zombies; terrorize poor characters as they terrorize the people they hate serving; and maybe let them live at the end.  Maybe.

I’m not the only one to endorse less outlining and more freedom, by the way.

So tell me, fellow Nanos:  which of the three are you?  Are you maybe realizing that you don’t so much as plot as make a wishlist?  Is your November writing vacation set in stone or subject to flights of fancy?  Or are you simply going to spin the globe, point a country out and write all about it?  Let me know in the comments below!


Update: The Autumn Brody series and NaNoWriMo 2015

The leaves are crisp and colourful, the weather is no longer sweltering, and people are obsessing over pumpkin spice again.  It’s the perfect time of year to curl up in a cozy blanket and read — or, if you’re me, curl up with a laptop and write.

As I prepare for my next project, it seemed like the perfect time to do a general update on my work.

The Autumn Brody series

The prequel to the series, Pretty In Scarlet, is now completely posted on Wattpad.  Six chapters in length, it reveals the final days of Nikki Lang’s life, and how her choices shape Autumn Brody’s journey.  While it reveals some plot points of Change of Season, it doesn’t spoil the ending.  It does add a little something extra to the story, and I encourage you to check it out and review it on Goodreads.

Talk of my new project seems to have convinced some readers that Waiting For A Star To Fall is the end of the series.  Let me clear that up right now:  I fully intend to write more books for this series — two, to be specific.  There are four seasons, after all.  The new project is one I’ve been mulling over for nearly seven years, and has finally come together in my head.

Speaking of the project…

Continue reading

Behind The Book: How One Great Song By Arkells Revealed A Character’s Backstory

Over time, I’ll be sharing the soundtrack for Waiting For A Star To Fall, and how each song inspired or enhanced the creation of the novel.  Impatient? Full Spotify playlist is here.

Star  was the book where Canadian bands somehow knew just what I needed.  While July Talk found a way to kickstart my Muse, another band found the way to answer a niggling character question.

When I began writing Change of Season, the first scene I clearly visualized was Autumn and Andrew’s proper introduction.  Fleeing an unknown stalker beneath ground, Autumn literally runs into Andrew.  Forced to trust him, she is relieved when he helps her to safety.

Just as I immediately knew Autumn was a vibrant redhead, I also knew that Andrew never went anywhere without his leather jacket.  I’m not necessarily a fan of leather, so this wasn’t a matter of personal preference.  Nothing about his personality necessarily spoke to wearing leather.  But Andrew was adamant: if it was cool weather, he wanted that well-worn leather jacket.

Fast-forward to 2014, when I began plotting Waiting For A Star To Fall.  While spinning music on shuffle, the song “Leather Jacket” by Arkells came on.  At first, it struck me as a great track for these two because of Autumn’s personal trauma and Andrew’s desire to help her.  But then, the chorus lodged in my skull and everything made sense:

Of course Andrew refuses to let go of that jacket.  It belonged to his father.

Planting a glossy kiss on his cheek, she smirked. “Cruel would have been making you wear the leather jacket.”

The infamous black leather jacket. She’d learned six months into their relationship—on Andrew’s nineteenth birthday—that it had belonged to his father. When he wore it, Andrew felt like he was still around to guide him through the idiocy teenagers excel at. It made her love its soft creases and glitchy zipper all the more. It had also lent an extra layer of sentiment to their shared love of “Leather Jacket” by Arkells—proof that there really was a song for everything.

“I would, you know.” Autumn startled at the sound of his voice. “If you really wanted me to, I’d wear it in this weather. I’d pass out, obviously, but I’d extract my revenge with some sort of uncomfortable lingerie,” he added playfully.

Her disbelief dripped from her response. “You wouldn’t.”

His hand squeezed her newly bejeweled one. “I would. But I know you wouldn’t ask me to wear leather during a heat wave.”

“Oh? You think you have me all figured out, then?”

“Not quite,” Andrew admitted with a smile…

The mystery was solved, and these two found a new song for their personal playlist.  It became a staple track of the writing process, and led to a few sweet exchanges between the characters as a bonus, including the one above.  Take a listen below!

She always looked tired but dazzled as a drunk
She even pulled off that stupid haircut
She said, “I don’t need a sponsor or the best lover
Some man that sees me as some fixer-upper.
The last few years, I’ve been running for cover
Trying to sleep so I can visit my mother.”

You called me up from a pay phone
I said hang tight, I can drive you home
I pulled on up and with a southern accent
I offered you my dad’s leather jacket…

Waiting For A Star To Fall is now available on Amazon.