Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

If Snowflakes were Milkshakes (Outlining)

The most asked question in preparing to write a novel is probably: to outline or not to outline. Throughout the NaNo forums one will find this question repeated in many different place and in many different ways. The problem is no one can tell you whether you should outline or not because it is probably one of the most personal things about preparing to write a novel. Others can only give you their opinion and share with you what they choose to do but ultimately, like everything in life, it is up to you. I’ve decided to try to help with answering the question of whether to outline or not though. I’ll give you options and my first hand experience with both outlining and not and you can choose what’s best for you.

First of all there are many different types of outlines you can use if you choose to. They range from the snowflake method, to the storyboard method to a method that I made up from different types of outlines. Following is a brief summary of each of these methods.

Snowflake Method:

Start by summarizing your novel in one sentence. It is best to keep it short and not to use any character names in this sentence. This sentence will eventually become your hook for your sales pitch for the book, if you choose to try to get it published. For example a good sentence for my novel might be: Armageddon hinges on a small time teacher who gets abducted by angels and demons.

Next you will create a full paragraph around that sentence that explains your novel. Again you will want to elaborate on your novel’s premise. A typical paragraph for this style of outline is five sentences long.

After getting the general idea of your novel down you will do the first two steps again for each of your characters.

You will then expand on each of the sentences in your story paragraph. You will turn those sentences into another paragraph. Then you will do the same for your character paragraphs. After that you will make each of those story paragraphs into a full page and the character paragraphs into a full character chart. Essentially this method has you simply expanding on these items repeatedly. It is best for something like NaNoWriMo to just do the first paragraphs and follow through with the rest of the method during November.

If you want a full explanation of this method check out this website:

Storyboard Method:

This is a simple method of outlining. Many authors use different methods of keeping track of the boards ranging from post it notes to excel spreadsheets. All one has to do to use this method is break down the novel by scene. You write a one line explanation of each scene on whichever medium you choose then you expand on these sentences when you begin the process of writing your novel. This can be slightly difficult to keep track of but it is recommended that you use this method when editing so you can focus on each piece of the novel. Some will use colored pencils for these notes to differentiate between the beginning, climax and resolution as well as the protagonist and antagonist.

My Method:

The method I use for outlining is, as I said before, a combination of different methods. I like to call it The Lucky 13 method. First you break down your novel into thirteen chapters. You write a title for each chapter that gives a general idea of what the chapter will be about. Once you have your chapter titles you start with each title and break the chapter into thirteen scenes that you want to be sure to include. I usually write a few sentences about each scene just depending on how much information I will need to remind myself of while writing. Now you have thirteen chapters with thirteen scenes for each chapter. When you start to write your novel you will simply expand on each scene.

Obviously I would recommend my method because it is the easiest way for me to write but some might like the other methods better. What you have to do is choose which one you think will give you the most creative outlet. Many people worry about stifling their creativity if they use an outline but you can make your outline however detailed you want and if necessary you can narrow all of the methods down to bare minimum which will allow you to stay on track but to have as much creative freedom as you want throughout the story. I have used an outline once before while doing NaNo and that once is the only time out of five tries that I actually finished my novel and liked what I wrote.

Side note: If it seems I have ripped off another method in what I believe to be an original creation please let me know because this is the first time I’m sharing this method and I don’t want to rip anyone off. Good luck with your novels whether or not you decide to outline.

Ciao! Bella Gente.

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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Writings & NaNo


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An Intro to my Brain!

Have you ever noticed that many blogs start out the same way or circle around the same aspect or rhetoric (someone’s opinion)? I hope you have because this one is going to be the same, yet pretty different. I want to tell you facts that I have discovered. Share with you events that are happening in and around my life. Most of all I want you to feel engaged and entertained as readers. That is really a difficult task to accomplish. If you have never written anything you should try it some time. As a matter of fact try it during NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is what gave me the inspiration to start this blog. I have done a few vlogs for it in the past but I have never blogged for NaNo. It is strange because NaNoWriMo (NaNo) is all about writing. If you have never heard of it basically it is where a bunch of people sign a contract (in their own minds) to write a novel consisting of at 50k words in one month. That month is traditionally November but it is possible to choose whatever month you want as long as it has just 30 days. Anyway, I might include a few vlogs here as well but I am mostly going to try to stick to blogging this time.

In the past I have started a few, unrelated, blogs for my own enjoyment. They have all gone the same way though. My memory fails me quite often despite the fact that I am only 23 and I don’t remember that my blogs need an update. Then when I remember too much time has passed to reasonably add another post to my blog. I am going to try to remember this time though. I know there is a firefox add on that will remind you of things. If I can remember what it is called I’ll install it so it will remind me to blog. If I can’t I’ll try my best to remember on my own.

Want to know a little about me before subscribing to this blog? My name is Mandy or in the NaNo forums I am known as starblack. I live in Oklahoma where I was born and raised. My parents were divorced when I was three and my step dad helped my mom raise me until we all had a falling out after I graduated from high school. Things were mended and broke again so I haven’t spoken to them since March. I met my husband in my freshman year in high school, we started dating senior year and got married a year after graduation. Four years later we had a wonderful son named Alex and now almost five years later we are still going strong. I love writing and reading. I enjoy photography and role playing. Dr. Who is my new obsession but I like a variety of TV shows so long as they are super depressing. My favorite holiday is Christmas because I love giving gifts and seeing the looks on people’s faces as they open them. I am a junior at a local university and I am majoring in English with a minor in creative writing. I HOPE to obtain a job in the writing career field after I graduate but its not looking promising.I am a christian but I don’t follow traditional christian beliefs. This usually puts me as an outcast of both religious and non religious people alike. My beliefs are my own though and no one else has to, or probably would want to, think the same way that I do. Basically my number 1 rule is that people should not judge others because God is the only perfect being.

So that’s about it for now I guess. I hope you will stick around and enjoy your stay.

Ciao! Bella Gente.

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Posted by on October 15, 2011 in Randomosity


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