Raven's Pen

Writing, Reading, and Ruminating

Category: NaNoWriMo

Autumn and… Plotting?

Hey everyone!

Welcome to autumn!


The end of the year seems to be sneaking up on me. Midterms just ended, the NaNo forms have come back to life (helllooo, procrastination of valuable sorts!), the weather is alternating between summer-hot and cold autumn winds, and I am waffling between stories to focus on for November.

Around the NaNo world, October is often thought of as Prep-tober, or whatever conbination of preparation and October you wish to create. As you may have gathered, I have a tendency to be a pantser and, as such, October has never been defined by copious amounts of preparation. Although I greatly enjoy leaping into a story without much more than a vague inkling of where it may go, my lack of a plot often forces me to fumble halfway through the month.

The idea of plotting has always felt unbearably tedious, but, since I am currently struggling to balance 15 credit hours and a meager 300 word daily minimum goal for my own material, it is beginning to feel more important. I have found that some pantsed stories move forward without prompting, but most require time to stop and think along the way. Since getting enough sleep in November already seems like an impossibility, I want to be able to reach my NaNo goal as effectively as possible. Although I am certain that whatever plans I attempt to make this month will change  during the writing process, I hope to start NaNo with a few threads of a plot… Just as soon as I choose a story to focus on.

Since there are dozens– hundreds– of ways to plot, I intend to mix methods. At the moment, my suggested method looks like this:

  • Using Flashcards: identify the main characters (1 card for each) and list their names, approximate age, origin, general role in the story, desire, and anything else that is important.
    • Consider how the characters might change over the course of the story.
  • In my notebook or word document:
    • Identify possible story themes.
    • Consider geography and start world-building.
    • Write down as many major plot points as possible. (Firstly: identify the plot!)

I will keep you updated as best as I can.

‘Till next time…


Camp NaNoWriMo: Update

My goodness, the days seem to fly past!

Are you surviving so far?

Let’s see… an update… Camp NaNo started just over two weeks ago and my novel has hardly spread its wings, so to say. Unfortunately, I still have not written a synopsis… or made a plot outline beyond a few scribbled notes… or done anything that looks official besides updating my wordcount.

But just because my handwriting is messy and life can be crazy does not mean that this post is immune to organization.

For ease’s sake, here are the facts– probably more than you bargained for:

Book Title: Errant Frost

Genre: Fantasy (well, post-dystopian fantasy-ish with assassins, broken friendships, blackmail, LGBT+ characters, and a lot of blood.)

Word-count Goal: 60,000

Current word-count: 37,109 (but the day is still young)

Current music list: Audiomachine, Two Steps From Hell, E.S. Posthumus, soundtracks by John Powell, Henry Jackman, Steve Jablonsky… and anything else that appears on Pandora.

Because this is just too much fun… and, hey, procrastination!

The month started like this…


A character who was supposed to be a future love interest decided to become a villain instead… I think I’m going to leave it, for now.


So far, the story has felt a bit like this…


And this…



It’s all good though. Well, mostly…


It’s Almost Time!

*takes a deep breath*


Do you hear the clock ticking? The piano lid closing? The sound of pens cracking? Cottage gates opening?

It’s time, my friends.

NaNoWriMo is here. (Did I mention that I am participating again? Surprise!)

tim burton alice in wonderland cheshire cat

You know what that means, my friends.

It’s time to morn a lack of preparedness, finish the last of the preparations that can be foreseen, and wonder where the plot I thought I was starting to understand went.

Did I mention that I am one of the crazy people who starts at midnight? I attempt to hit the first keystroke exactly as the clock hits twelve. Who needs sleep anyway?

Is anyone prepared for NaNo?

I am definitively not… this will be my forth year of camps, but it is almost as nerve-wracking as it was the first time. Since I doubt that I am not the only one (I hope?) who is entirely unprepared, here is the list of a few things that I often find helpful to getting words on the page. Some of these pertain more closely to waking up in the middle of the night to write, but pajamas are justifiable anytime of the day:

  • Be prepared to take notes. Empty flashcards are lifesavers. Truly. I use them to keep track of characters and scribble down random plot points or pieces of dialogue. They are also the perfect size for miniature paper airplanes.
  • Find your soundtrack. Music is a great tool to help get into a character’s head: what would they listen to? What fits their emotional state? What is the soundtrack of your novel? Of course, some people prefer silence, and that is a soundtrack of its own.
  • Don’t feel like you need to know everything about your story. Whether you are a hardcore plotter or a fire-drill style pantser, it is probable that you do not know everything about your story (if anything at all). Be willing to explore along the way. Sometimes unexpected plots will jump out of you and change your manuscript for the better; let yourself consider every possible option.
  • Have something to drink nearby. Whether it be coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or even spiced cider; just think of the procrastination potential. While something so simple may seem strange, it is sometimes surprising what you can come up with while taking a sip of something delicious. Besides, who has time to get up for a cup of water when pounding at a keyboard?
  • Find a cosy space– or surround yourself with as much coziness as possible. Another clique, but one that I follow every single year. Fuzzy socks? Check. Pajamas? Check. A sweater (or cloak)? Absolutely.

Now… I would stick around, but the minutes are ticking. I’m off to make a cup of tea and negotiate with characters before the clock strikes midnight.

Good luck to everyone rushing into their manuscripts tonight!

NaNoWriMo: Holy Cow, It’s Over?

Hello everyone!

You’re awesome! You know that? I’ll say it again: You’re awesome!

For all of the people who participated in NaNo or similar endeavors: No matter how many words you wrote, you are a winner! As long as you picked yourself up and accomplish something to bring you closer to your goal, you are a winner! If you had to quit in the middle but swore to try again, you are a winner! If you simply tried it out and found it wasn’t for you, don’t worry because you’re still a winner!

All right? I will stop trying to convince you now, but I mean it.

I apologize for the lack of posts in November… and the last week! I had a list of drafts that I meant to finish but– well… it was a crazy month in more ways than one. Thankfully, almost all of the craziness of over for the month. My time is mine again.*evil cackling*

Let’s talk about NaNo, shall we? I’m pleased to say that I finished with double what I expected to: 100,834 out of 50k. And… the story is only slightly more than halfway over. And this is book one of a duo (or trilogy).

Elizabelle and Avery like to talk. A lot.

Did I tell you anything about this story? No? Shame on me, my friends.

I never actually wrote a synopsis so I’m going to throw a few paragraphs out and see where it goes..

The story begins a few months after the conclusion of  String and Bone; a book that I hope to publish next year (I am currently in the last third of a rewrite). *crosses fingers*

Elizabelle, Rosaline’s sister, has become Queen Regent, Protector and Guide of Pyrensia. The Bone Collectors’ created a council to run the kingdom, and they are using Elizabelle as a public face to conserve some sort of public trust. She allows them to simply because she has her own plans.

She dreams of twisting people around her fingers like twine (and attempts to do so in almost every scene), and her worst fear is betrayal. Her compatriot, and girlfriend, is a former thief from Angra. While Elizabelle prefers to fight with words, Avery’s passion lies in blackmail interspersed with occasional fist-fights.

Avery has plans of her own, but they connect to Elizabelle’s for the most part. Both of them intend to use the Council– and everyone else they can– for their own ends. They love to give speeches, and nothing is a more joyful gist than threats.

The whole story has been prodigiously influenced by the election; which means there is a fair amount of social “stuff” mixed in. Finishing it will certainly be a challenge– hopefully of the delightful sort.

My, this moth is moving quickly! Now that life is settling again, I am sure that I will be able to post more often. And my next post will definitively have more substance than this little update. I have a few drafts waiting to be finished that I’m pretty excited about, and some additions to this blog that I am planning for the beginning of the year!

Until next time!

Pre-NaNo Panic

Whoa, whoa, whoa. What do you mean? There is still a little bit of time… well, there was, that time is going to be gone awfully fast.

The blink of an eye; a swish of a wand; the amount of time it takes to learn to make a good bread.

All right, maybe not that last one.

It’s time to panic my friends. At least, in my tiny sliver of the world.

Luckily, panic is something that we have in abundance. But let’s not get over excited. Unprepared is still slightly prepared in some ways. Right? I sure hope so.

To actually be prepared, I am going to follow the tried and true method of slowly drawing my attention closer and closer to NaNo… Actually, that sounds kind of creepy.

Let’s start with a NaNoWriMo survival kit:

  • My computer, Yuily
  • A notebook
  • Flashdrives/backup
  • Microsoft Word
  • Earbuds
  • Empty flashcards– for notes and character information.
  • Pens and at least one pencil
  • Music (Pandora and 8tracks)
  • Writing rock
  • Lots and lots of determination
  • The ability to chase after motivation
  • Magic

Non-essential, but definitively helpful:

  • Random prompt box
  • Fuzzy socks and generally comfortable clothing
  • Tea, hot chocolate, and, occasionally, coffee
  • Internet (for research and– you know what– procrastination)
  • Furry friends of four legs
  • Other humans in the family to commiserate with

Things that would be beneficial, but probably won’t exist before NaNo:

  • A temporary book cover
  • A plot

I think my list gets bigger every year. (An illusion, my friends. An illusion.) Truly, only a few things are key.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, what is in your survival kit?

Camp NaNoWriMo Update

The race is on…

The provisions and supplies have been sorted…

The maps have been laid out and the mountains have been acknowledged…

Camp NaNoWriMo has begun like all tales…

I started re-reading The Hobbit tonight, which may account for this post’s entrance. C’est la vie. (By the way, Tolkien was brilliant… absolutely brilliant.)

Ahem… back to NaNoWriMo. Today marks the end of the eighth day, so far, I have 32,613 out of 50,000 words (I’ve thought about raising my goal, but I still haven’t gotten around to it), slightly more of a plot than I started with, and only a smidgen more of an idea of what I’m doing.

Speaking of which, does anyone ever actually know what they’re doing?

That’s a post for another time though. Back to camp… I now have a synopsis! Here it is:

No one believed in magic two hundred years ago. There were occultists and theory-keepers, but they were a minority until a third republic rose, aided by an unexplained power. Now, magic is not only acknowledged, it is forbidden.

Leigh was born in the slums to a mother who was executed as a witch. Now she rides the routes of the nobles with her influential father, but she is not entirely human. She is one of the Mels; people who are born with metal in their bones. If being the daughter of a witch is not enough, Mels are considered second-class citizens, and she could easily be executed without a trial if her secret is discovered.

The future planned for her is filled with an arrange marriage, boring hours spent following the ‘ladies’ professions, and timeless days spent being told the things that she cannot do. But her heart is set on a life of freedom.

With cities cracking from the pressure of enthroned rulers, flaming politics, and questions of what society actually is: every moment of freedom could be her last. When a new threat reaches the city, she will have to save far more than just herself.

It could use a bit more editing, and I doubt it’ll fit the story once I’m done, but I think it’s a great please to start.

Until next time!

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