Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NaNoWriMo. Got Pants? Don’t Forget a Thick Pair of Socks

By Susan Arden, @romancebysusan

Join me in welcoming Susan Arden to the blog today to chat with us about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and the importance of making a plan to make the most of your 30 days.

Susan grew up in Miami, attending bilingual schools which lends itself to her interest in writing multicultural stories. Previously, a teacher in the field of special education and biology, Susan pursues her dream of writing fiction with several releases this year. Crafting sweet and spicy tales, she writes crazy-hot love stories across romance subgenres including contemporary (erotic), Western, fantasy/paranormal, and rock star. Find her stories under the name of Susan D. Taylor when it comes to mermaids and evil twin sisters. Currently, she lives in TN along with husband, two cattle dogs, two outlandish cats, a gecko and a corn snake. She is a member of the RWA, CIMRWA, and Paranormal Romance Guild.

Take it away Susan...

Thinking of doing NaNo this year? Here’s a question asked and I hope you consider your answer. Panster or plotter?

After coming away from NaNo last year with two entries (and kindly excuse the brag fest) I also published two stories. My point: if I can do it, any fool can.

Why so down on me? Not really. I’ve serious ADHD and dyslexia after neurosurgery. A blessing and a curse for this writer. Fool that I may or may not be, I do have one thing going. I’m a hybrid panster-plotter out of necessity. A little bit of one and some of the other. And what does that have to do with anything? In so far as NaNo, tons.

If you can begin, that’s half the battle when finishing is the goal. So to go from point A to 50,000 words requires a roadmap, or trust me, you very well could get lost. Here’s what I learned and how I went from zero published books to having nine this year. I write romance so I write characters in tandem. Start with one. Pick your protagonist and let him/her pick you. Meaning, you guys need to be closer than two coats of paint.

Hero or heroine, you are hanging out with this person for a while so you’d better like the hell out of them. Love them. Get to know them inside and out. Feel them, breathe them, be them. And then stick it to your beloved. No mercy. To make it to 50K, your creations need problems. Big and small. Internal character flaws can be anything from being an arrogant jerk to being an alcoholic. And let’s not forget external. Poverty, illness, loss of a job. Pick up the newspaper if you get stuck. There’s plenty on the front page. And then conceptualize your characters’ lives in dimensions from where they live to what’s in their wallet. Debit card, Visa or Amex or cold hard cash. Imagine their refrigerator and their morning routine. Does music play while the coffee brew? Is it radio, CD or iPod shuffle or no. Dead silence. How fast do they drive their car? Get the picture. It’s just that. A complete vista into persona.

When you introduce your characters, get them on stage ASAP. A swan dive into the scene or even better, a belly flop. If there’s backstory, try to deliver it spoonful by spoonful in lieu of a dump truck load.

Without stopping, give your characters a reason to change. Incite them into action. Heck, give them two choices they desire. And can’t have simultaneously.

During the middle, you’ve got to keep them moving and the tension must be taut, so drop bombs. Problem after problem. Anything and everything. Lost keys to the wrong pizza being delivered. And the big problems, too. Financial ruin to illness. Nothing short of potential death. And then, you and your characters must have a way to get out of the story. Solve their dilemma logically. Sure, twists and turns to ramp up tension, but aliens can’t land out of the blue with an antidote.

When conceptualizing a story, I begin to contemplate my characters and their dilemmas before I start the actual writing. In the shower, on a yoga mat, or walking, I’m deep into story formation. You can too. So sign up for NaNo and have a plan. Sticky notes. Formal charts. Or use software like Scrivener.

And oh yeah, tell that imaginary critic to put a sock in it. No editing allowed. That’s what the rest of the year is for. Get to the end and enjoy this wild NaNoWriMo ride.

Susan is published through Crimson Romance, Decadent Publishing, Etopia Press and self-published as a best seller author on Amazon and All Romance ebooks.

Favorite writing resource: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, Andrea Sokoloff 

NaNo 2012 Stories Published
Tempted by Trouble, (Bad Boys #1), Crimson Romance
Tempted Twice (Bad Boys #2)

Catch Susan Arden here:

NaNoWriMo | Blog | Website | Twitter
FB | Susan Arden: Goodreads | Amazon

About Her Lycan Lover

An ancient law permits a Midnight Lycan to bond with spellcaster. A woman who he will protect until the end of time.

Sherry Delacroix is a third level spellcaster. Quinn Rothschild, a rare wolf shifter; a purebred Midnight Lycan. They work together at the Downtown Den and unknowingly are fated as mates in a mystical union. To unleash the power of this liaison requires a precarious event, unlocking their instinct to bond.

A rip in the energy shield within the Denver ley line have Dark Fae crossing realms, hungry to harness enough power to bring down the worldwide shield. It's up to Sherry to repair the break before the Fae find her. And it's up to Quinn to keep her safe.

When Sherry's friend is kidnapped, she comes out of hiding to face the enemy. Only the person lurking in the shadows isn't who she expected to find as the face of evil.

Never mind about keeping enemies near when the person you least suspect wants you dead.


  1. It's my first year and I'm excited. Thanks for the tips.

    1. You're welcome. NaNo is a total ball. Enjoy!

  2. Finally someone has said it, do both. I think it is hard to write 50,000+ words without any plan at all. However, I found when doing it last year, that the sheer pressure, of getting up every morning thinking "what the hell happens next?" Was enough to push me on. When I started the plan amounted to a beginning, a driving force and an ending, hardly a major plan, but enough. By the end of the week the main character was writing the story, including waking me at 4 in the morning to type it out. You can buy it on Amazon Aimless Fear. The current version has some typos, my apologies, a copy editor is going through it as we speak, the revised version will have to cost a little more to pay for her time.

    1. Rod, that's what it's all about once a writer melds with a character. A channeling of sorts. All a writer can do is hold on and keep up. Good luck with your release.

  3. I forced myself to plot last year for my Nano project and I think my work suffered for it. I had too many story elements, too many factors fighting against the overall themes. For me, character sketches and rough outlines help me out enough. If I have a general problem and conflict and and an idea where it should lead, then I fill in the rest. That's just me. I wish I could create detailed outlines but it's like going to the dentist for me. Actually, my dentist is really nice, but no one likes that floss getting yanked into their gums, so yeah.

    Thank you for the tips! I see you are an RWA-er. The major thing I've learned since joining the org a couple years ago is that writers who want to be successful make it their priority. People have different ideas of success too, so that is important. Once I startred viewing writing as a personal business rather than a hobby, that changed how I managed my time.

    1. I think a writer who knows what works for her, is a head of the game rather than trying to fly with flippers. With you on being serious about writing. Nothing is dropped in a writer's lap. We wear many, many hats. Thanks for stopping by and good luck in your writing.

  4. Susan Arden nicely done!!! I started with a blog about my crime scene experiences and got pestered into following my dreams for finishing a novel. Its about to go back to an editor I found and I can say that your combo technique is about what I do. I like to watch my characters amble around and after writing out what they do I will rework into a story flow. I would also like to add that ADD hyper-focus is a Godsend.