#NaNoWriMo Day 19: Approach To The Moment Of Truth and Sunday Summary


Day 19
Word count: 39,094 words
Word count goal: 38,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: The Road Back
Save The Cat: All is Lost


#vss very short story

Eagle soared over the mountain. She glided over the back roads and tiny ghost towns. She landed on a picnic table outside an Ivar’s Seafood Bar and screamed until tourists abandoned their fish.

Plotting with Tarot

The Road Back

The Road Back card: The Tower- the change and awakening required to dismantle the artificial; healing, renovation and restoration

What motivates your MC to return: Queen of Wands upside-down- there may soon be a need for you to help out others who are having a problem of some kind. It could also be that an older woman would like to help you with a situation that you are facing, but for some reason she is unable to do so. Her moral support will be helpful.

How the Shadow will attack your MC (his vulnerability): Five of Pentacles upside-down- a welcome sign that change is coming for the better; If you are still in dire circumstances, somebody may come to your help just when you are about to give up all hope of rescue.  You may have to set aside pride in order to accept what is being offered.

My interpretation: This is an interesting reading. My MC has had an awakening. He sees the reality of his situation. He is facing the great truth of his life. He wants to go home to his ordinary life, but it doesn’t exist to go back to. His wife cannot help him, but she does offer moral support. Here’s the most interesting part. Through his trials he has finally learned to ask for help, and this growth becomes a vulnerability because the Shadow will come as someone offering help when he is about to give up all hope. This gives me a lot to think about.

Ask Your Character

  • What would you go back and change or do if you had a time machine?
  • If you could get away with any crime, what would it be?
  • How would you lure someone into a trap?

Word Of The Day

augur: v. to give promise of something to come later

8 Action Verbs:

appointed          collaborated          decided          exhibited

Inspected          Negotiated          represented           supervised

Poem prompt

I like the double prompt from Day 7 of the PAD Chapbook Challenge for today:

  1. Write a days of the week poem. Pick one day or work through them all. Have the poem about the days or just name drop a day (or days) of the week in the poem.

  2. Write a days of the weak poem. See what I did there with the spelling of “week” to “weak?” The poem could be about weakness in another, yourself, or objects that are weak.


A day of rest
To sit as guest
In the Lord’s house
fires of sin to douse
in stiff uncomfortable clothes
shiny-shoed stuffed cramped toes
The longest hour and a half
Warning of the golden calf
When the boring sermon ends
Prayers and tithes to make amends
An early dinner the reward
For all the goodness points he scored

I Don’t Like To Feel Weak

Whenever I am feeling weak
when my voice is but a squeak
my future options all look bleak
all options stink with death-rots reek
aches and creeks of the aged antique
out on display like a sideshow freak
when I’d rather hide with the timid and meek
Emotions like serpents wriggle and sneak
and tears stain my cheek in a black mascara streak

That’s when I search out a critique
Research ways to improve technique
And pinpoint my voice that makes me unique
Every possibility of a secret peek
Into the betterment I seek
Creating strength through my own mystique
To plug every hole through might to leak
Pecked and pecked by doubts stiff beak

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Connotations: I love this quote from Barbara Baig in Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Achieving Excellence and Captivating Readers

If you imagine that putting a word into the mind of your reader is like casting a stone in a pond, then the denotation is the splash the stone makes as it hits the water, while the connotations of the word are like the ripples that follow the splash.

We did the first connotations exercise on Day 6, but exploiting the connotations of words to create ripples of meaning in the mind takes practice and skill, so lets do another one. Read your favorite author paying attention to words chosen for positive and negative connotations. Collect these words in a notebook and practice using them in your own writing.

Today’s Simple Task

MC micro-focused on today: What can s/he do in this moment? It’s time for a new and better plan.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 5 minutes. Brainstorm all of your MC’s traits. Sort them into strengths and weaknesses.

Choose the trait you see as the main weakness. Set your timer for 5 minutes again and Cluster or Mind Map around that word.

Set your timer for another 5 minutes. Write a scene where this weakness becomes a strength.

Recommended Word Crawl

Today is a good day to read as well as write, so let’s try the Reading Crawl

Sunday Summary

How is your novel coming along? This last week we passed the midpoint and now we are marching toward our hero’s darkest point and the climax of our story. This week, for those of us who will be celebrating Thanksgiving, could bring some extra challenges to finding writing time. If family obligations feel overwhelming, try to spread out the extra words throughout the week. An extra 500 words today could make all the difference come Thursday.

Happy Reading and Writing!


#NaNoWriMo Day 14: The Bad Guys Close In

Day 14
Word count: 28,801 words
Word count goal: 28,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Approaching The Inmost Cave
Save The Cat: Bad Guys Close In

#vss very short story

Carl couldn’t sit in this claustrophobic cave another second. Knowing they were out there, waiting, was torture enough. He grabbed his six-shooter and ran out with a roar. He was greeted by birdsong and the rustle of the wind through the trees.

Plotting with Tarot

Today’s main scene in my story includes two secondary characters. They are both, in a way, the anti-heroes of their own stories and they have a lot of trouble communicating.  For today’s reading, I thought I would do Approaching the Inmost Cave Readings for each of them and then compare and contrast. We’ll call the top row T and the bottom row D.

secondary characters

Today I got my card interpretations from Truly Teach Me Tarot.

T Approaching Inmost Cave: The Empress upside-down-  insecure and tense, experiencing difficulty in some area of life, finding it hard to get anything off the ground or complete any projects. In fact very little may be working out.

T Leap of faith your character must take: Knight of Pentacles upside-down- loses values and morals resulting in apathy, stagnation and lack of motivation

T Old angst that character revisits: Ten of Pentacles-  success, prosperity and abundance;  you have done or will do very well for yourself, not by chance, but by working very hard to achieve it

D Approaching Inmost Cave: Page of Pentacles-a solid grounded start to whatever projects you are about to embark on. You are organized, prepared, and ready and waiting to get started. You are now ready to invest in your future. If you have been worried about having enough money, you have enough to get started with.

D Leap of faith your character must take: Page of Swords-asks you to be honest and fair in your dealings with others. Do the right thing by everyone and be the good guy in this situation.

D Old angst that character revisits: High Priestess upside-down- you are not listening to your inner-self or have problems accessing your intuition. You do not trust yourself to make the right decision, or have any faith or belief in yourself. You are letting others run your life and doing what they think is right for you. Deep down you know what you want but you ignore the inner calling.

My interpretation: These two characters couldn’t be approaching the inmost cave from more opposite positions. It makes sense that there will be many misunderstandings. They have very different motives to enter into this risky situation. One thing that really stood out to me in this reading is D’s Leap of faith. The scene has him doing something that most would consider very bad behavior, but he believes he’s being honest and fair. He thinks he’s the good guy, here. I love that aspect and will try to draw that out as I write today.

Ask Your Character

  • Do you have any bad habits?
  • Do you think you have any bad habits that annoy others?
  • Could any of your bad habits be considered strengths against your adversaries? How?

Word Of The Day

spendthrift: noun- a person who spends possessions or money extravagantly or wastefully; prodigal. adjective- wastefully extravagant; prodigal.

8 Action Verbs:

annotated          clarified          correlated          estimated

improved          moderated          recorded          started

Poem prompt

Thanks to a post on Sascha Darlington’s Microcosm Explored called All the Things We’ll Never Know #amwriting (finally) #novembernotes, I have been made aware of another November poetry challenge called #NovemberNotes. This challenge has a song to listen to each day as a poem inspiration. Here’s their list:


For today’s poetry prompt choose one or more of the songs listed for days 1-14 to inspire you to write about your MC’s feelings as The Bad Guys Close In.

Wow. I’m glad I took a look at Wise Enough by Lamb. The official video over on YouTube is absolutely beautiful and it fits nicely with today’s theme.

A Drop Of Water

A drop of water opens the door
Freedom from tortured thirst
Provides precious time to think of more
Crossing the sea of suits
To a golden hopeful shore

No longer just killing time
Escaping the human traps for humans
Diving into the waves sublime
Air bubbles fight to the surface
The salt licks off years of grime
A drop of water opened the door

Awesome Sentence Challenge

As you develop your antagonist and your secondary characters, you want to show parallels between them and your protagonist. Parallelism is also important in your sentences.

If two or more ideas are parallel, they are easier to grasp when expressed in parallel grammatical form. -from A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker and Robert A. Schwegler

a. Balance parallel ideas in a series: Hooked on thriller novels, I learned that there is nothing more important than being rich, typing code, and to have having more than one gun.

b. Balance parallel ideas presented as pairs- these ideas are usual connected with a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or); a pair of correlative conjunctions (either . . . or, not only . . . but also); with a word introducing a comparison (than, as): It is easier to speak in abstractions than grounding to ground one’s thoughts in reality.

c. Repeat function words to clarify parallels- Function words such as prepositions (by, to) and subordinating conjunctions (that, because) signal the grammatical nature of the word groups that follow: In an attempt to stop her thumb-sucking habit, her parents tried painting a noxious substance on her thumb to change the taste or making her wear gloves changing to change the texture.

While you write today, look out for places to use parallelism for clarity in your sentences.

Today’s Simple Task

Your MC feels self-doubt and abandons his/her main objective for a lesser goal. S/he explores some regrets.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 15 minutes. What will your hero do to resist change? What will your hero do to fight the biggest battle he must overcome – himself? – from SavetheCat.com

Recommended Word Crawl

Alice in Wonderland Word Crawl

Need a break from all this writing, but still want to be working on your hero’s journey. You could watch Alice In Wonderland and compare her Hero’s Journey to your Hero’s Journey or plot out the Save the Cat Story Beats and compare them to yours. Have fun with it!

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 13: Approaching the Inmost Cave

Day 13
Word count: 26,256 words
Word count goal: 26,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Approaching The Inmost Cave
Save The Cat: Midpoint

#vss very short story

After a beautiful and inviting trail through the woods led Brenda to a little cave, she decided to give caves another chance. Using the light from her cell phone she admired the stalagmites and stalactites. A musky smell and humphing noise drew her to the innermost recesses where she discovered a lonely Bigfoot. They lived happily in their quaint forest cave.

Plotting with Tarot

Approaching the cave

Approach To The Inmost Cave (The emotion your MC feels as he has to traverse this last corridor to the cave): Ace of Pentacles- seed of your future fulfillment

Leap of faith your MC must take: Queen of Pentacles- enormous good sense and problem solving energy. Be confident that if you express your truth, you will not have to worry about the consequences. You will remain safe and sound – from tarot.com

Old angst that MC revisits: Four of Wands- the teamwork card

My interpretation: As my protagonist approaches the inmost cave, he still feels hopeful. He is planting the seeds of future fulfillment and believes he is on the way to reaping the benefits of a life of hard work. The leap of faith he is taking is leaving his responsibilities behind to pursue vital answers and using his good sense and the problem solving energy of an engineer, he is confident he won’t need to worry about the consequences of jogging away from his previous plan. He encounters some issues that need teamwork, but he doesn’t want to get family and friends involved. His entire mission is to protect the ones he loves. He will need to revisit these feelings when he needs some help.

Ask Your Character

  • What are your special talents?
  • How do you use these talents?
  • Are they a gift or a curse?

Word Of The Day

sonorous: adj. loud, deep or resonant as a sound.

8 Action Verbs:

analyzed          chose          corrected          established

implemented          modeled          received          spoke

Poem prompt

Theme: Approaching the Inmost Cave

Have your character write a poem about approaching a cave. It may be their feelings about physical caves or approaching a dark place in their soul or psyche.

The Beast Inside

I cannot believe I threatened a man
Where did that darkness come from
I have lived with God the best I can
I run, my legs jelly and mind numb

I have lived a long life of peace
Defending my lines through fairness
What trigger did my fire release
The whip one too many for tameness

A beast in a cave deep within
Roused from its sleep for my pride
The power behind my fist to his chin
Did I mean that I wished he had died?

Now, what of me in its freedom?
Perpetual edge of fight or flight
Am I to bow to an enraged demon?
Or embrace it and taste every bite!

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Identifying Independent and Dependent Clauses

Using serial descriptive clauses, try to write the longest sentence you ever have.

Today’s Simple Task

Reversal of yesterday. Show that whatever your MC discovered yesterday, the opposite is actually true.

Warm-up Exercise

Try this prompt from Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months by John Dufresne.

Answering Machine: Your character is troubled as usual. What is today’s specific problem? Write about it. Now, he has a voice mail message and is surprised to learn that the message solves his problem, alleviates his trouble. Play (write) the message.

Recommended Word Crawl

I got very excited when I saw there was an Invader Zim Word Crawl. I decided to use it today, Monday, to start the week off with a crawl I really look forward to doing.

I love the Invader Zim cartoon. If you enjoy crazy misfit aliens trying to take over the world, I highly recommend Invader Zim: Complete Invasion Collectors Box Set (6DVD). 

I wish everyone a fun and productive week. I hope you’ll check back often for inspiration to keep going. I would love to hear from you in the comments. How is your novel writing going? If you’re not doing NaNoWriMo, what are you working on? How is your project going?

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 12: Character Comparisons and Sunday Summary 2

Day 12
Word count: 23,791 words
Word count goal: 24,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Test/Allies & Enemies
Save The Cat: Fun & Games

#vss very short story

Harold couldn’t make the pieces fit. All he could do was listen to his heart. His heart kept singing, “Go beat the crap out of that idiot.” It wasn’t a very good song.

Plotting with Tarot

My next scene is a confrontation from the antagonist’s point of view, so I decided to do a Test, Allies and Enemies reading for the antagonist.

antagonist test, allies, and enemies

Test: Page of Cups – the muse

What antagonist learns from the test: Knight of Cups upside-down – a fight for the heart or soul, once won quickly forgotten; reversed

Allies: Ten of Cups – a supportive community or group of friends

Who antagonist’s main ally is: Wheel of Fortune – luck- both good and bad

Enemies: Eight of Pentacles – diligence and craft, hard work

His enemies’ motivations: Ace of Swords – an intellectual breakthrough, the moment of truth.

My interpretation: This was a fun reading. It holds insights and predictability. My antagonist and his allies are all about the Cups. I think, in today’s scene, this represents their music. Perhaps my antagonist’s test is the muse because he is having trouble finding inspiration ever since the horrible event that led him to meeting my protagonist. Maybe today’s encounter leads him to searching for long-term redemption instead of trying to cover up what he did. I see his allies as his band-mates, but his true ally is luck. Some sort of luck, be it good or bad, will lead him to this better decision. The enemies card obviously represents my protagonist and his motivations for today’s scene have to do with needing answers. His moment of truth is confronting the antagonist.

This reading provided a lot of insights into my antagonists emotions and motivations. It also gave me some ideas for the effects of the encounter. I think this was the most helpful reading, in terms of plotting, I have done so far.

Ask Your Character

  • What traditions have been passed down in your family?
  • Who were your favorite relatives?
  • Do you remember any of the stories they used to tell you?

Word Of The Day

recidivist: n. repeat offender

8 Action Verbs:

allocated          checked          coordinated          enlarged

immunized          mediated           raised          specified

Poem prompt

Compare your protagonist to your antagonist in rhyme.

No More Time For Doubt

What is that old, wrinkled mess doing here?
I start to shake as bleak future draws near.
A life without long, luscious hair is my fear.
How does he look at himself without tears?

His stringy long hair makes him look like a fool.
Up on that stage, he thinks he’s so cool.
I can tell that his band-mates think he’s a tool.
Wasting his time, he should go back to school.

He looks so weak with his skin hanging off
Does he think he can fell me with one sickly cough
I’m here with my boys, a cocktail molotov
Whatever he wants, his words will get scoff.

Look at him preening and looking around
I can’t wait to throw that foul smirk to the ground
I’ll shock him with muscle. I won’t make a sound.
One hit and he’ll leave all that pride in a mound.

You think you know me?
Got me figured out?
Come at me. I’m waiting.
No more time for doubt.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Look at the last paragraph you wrote yesterday, or a paragraph you wrote this morning. For each sentence in the paragraph, write ten different sentences to say the same thing. You can use different words, but don’t change the meaning. Choose your favorites of the new sentences and combine them to reform the paragraph. Compare and contrast.

Today’s Simple Task

MC compares self to other characters in story – false sense of achieving goal

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 15 minutes. What problems are coming for your protagonist that s/he is not aware of yet?

Recommended Word Crawl

Fallout 3 Word Crawl – Part 1

If you haven’t played it yet, but love post-apocalyptic adventures, you might want to get yourself Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition as a reward for winning NaNoWriMo.

Sunday Summary

So how did your week go? Did you use some of the prompts? Which ones are your favorites? I found a combination of the tarot reading, action verbs, poetry prompt and either the simple task or the warm-up, got me focused on aspects of the day’s scenes.

This week, I had a couple days that writing did not come easy. It was tough for me to see that my sweetie was so excited about his story that he finished a novella, and my writing buddy on twitter’s words are flowing like a river to the ocean when I was not having the same experience. My words are a steady trickle making me push and prod the stream along like kicking at puddles. However, everyone is different, and I’m right on track to reach my goals.

I may not have reached my daily writing goals every day, but I have written every day and that is what NaNoWriMo is about; the practice. Some days, some scenes, will be easier than others. Speaking of practice, I hope you’re trying out some of the Awesome Sentence Challenges. Not only do they help you write better sentences, they inspire creativity.

We have an exciting week ahead on our Hero’s Journey. We’re going to hit the half-way point in our own NaNoWriMo adventure and we’ll be ratcheting up the suspense and conflict as our hero approaches The Inmost Cave or the Supreme Ordeal. I know you’ve fallen in love with your characters, but you’re about to get really mean, making their lives harder and harder until they may even be staring death in the face. Like I said, we have an exciting week ahead of us. Buckle your seat-belts.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 11: Tests, Allies and Enemies

Day 11
Word count: 19,569 words
Word count goal: 22,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Tests, Allies + Enemies
Save The Cat: Fun & Games

Happy Veteran’s Day. It is a nice coincidence that our theme today, for The Hero’s Journey, is: Tests, Allies and Enemies. To observe the day, I took the time to read “Please Don’t Thank Me For My Service”, a piece from the New York Times that interviews veterans. I recommend reading  it. It’s a meaningful piece that’ll get you thinking.

Even if your story has nothing to do with war or the military, the conflicts between countries are based on the same conflicts in all relationships. Your main character may face territorial, economic and ideological conflicts and will need allies and make enemies (or just people who get in her way or don’t like him).

You may want to take a look at the news and think about the motivations behind the conflicts going on in the world today. How might they relate to your story? Think about the veterans in your family and community. What conflict were they involved in? Who were their enemies and allies?

#vss very short story

She thought Andy loved her until he dragged her through Ape cave. At one point she was ready to give up and die in there. When they finally emerged, Sarah startled a family of skunks. Andy was never heard from again.

Plotting with Tarot

Today’s reading, following Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch, is a little different. First, you pull three cards: one is the Test card, one is for allies, and one is for enemies. Then you place a card under each of those cards. The one under Test card is the most important thing your MC learns from the test throughout the story. The one under the Allies represents the most important ally in your MC’s world and the card under the enemies shows what motivates his enemies against him. There’s a lot of information to unpack here which is great because I need to do a little extra writing today.

Tests, Allies and Enemies

The Test Card: High Priestess- Wisdom, secrets and ritual

What MC learns: Knight of Cups upside-down- a fight for the heart; reversed

The Allies: Two of Cups- a balanced relationship that is good for both parties

Most important ally: Two of Pentacles upside-down- take on a new task that is a complement  and a diversion; reversed

The Enemies: Nine of Swords- anxiety, keeping him up at night. When fear overwhelms us, we are alone.

Motivates MC’s enemies: Ace of Pentacles upside-down- The beginning of making something through work; reversed

My interpretation: This is a pretty clear reading for my character. My character’s test is to find answers to an odd mystery that he stumbled upon. What he learns from the test is not to lose interest in love once he’s won it, but to continue to fight for it. The test renews his interest in fighting for his relationships. He has good working relationships and his most important ally is someone very like himself that he has known for a long time. His sudden on-slot of enemies, unpredictably reaching into his life, are causing him anxiety and keeping him up at night. These enemies are motivated by finding new ways to create wealth quickly and easily without having to work for it.

The anxiety caused by all the odd characters suddenly harassing my MC is an aspect of the story I haven’t explored yet. I will definitely attempt to incorporate the idea into my writing today. Sounds like a good day to grab my copy of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi and turn to Anxiety. I think I’ll look at Anger and Doubt as well.

Ask Your Character

  • What was your first serious relationship?
  • Do you believe in love at first sight?
  • What lessons have you learned from your relationships?

Word Of The Day

guisard: n. a person who wears a mask.

8 Action Verbs:

aided                  chartered           convinced          engineered

illustrated          measured          questioned         specialized

Poem prompt

Write a monorhyme poem about tests and trials.

The News Today

measured threats
questioned assets
publicized gets
engineered jets
mastered bets
convinced cadets
specialized vets
illustrated brunets
advised outlets
encouraged forgets
chartered regrets
solved debts
aided mindsets

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Grab a book by an author you would be proud to be compared to; a book that you think has a similar tone to the writing you are working on. Open to a random page and start reading out loud. Write down your favorite words on the page. Does this author use a lot of sentence variety?

Emulate the sentence structures of one paragraph, using your own words.

Today’s Simple Task

Something happens that is out of your MC’s control.

Warm-up Exercise

Your MC is having a conversation, in person, with two people. One s/he considers an “ally” and one an “enemy”. Write the dialogue.

Recommended Word Crawl

The Orange is the New Black Word Crawl seems appropriate for today.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 10: All About Having Fun

Day 10
Word count: 18,450 words
Word count goal: 20,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Crossing The Threshold
Save The Cat: Fun & Games


Today’s focus is on fun! As you can see from the images I chose for inspiration, fun makes me think of childhood and being child-like.  Try doing something fun today-dressing your pterodactyl like a baby duck, for instance. Think about what your characters do for fun. Put a fun scene in your story. Have fun writing today.

#vss very short story

Herman thought Dee Dee would be less homesick if she had a baby duck around. He wrapped himself in yellow feathers and fashioned a bill out of cardboard and fabric. Dee Dee found it offensive.

Plotting with Tarot

Today, I’m doing something different. I’m going to read for my MC and do a Celtic Cross focused on what he does to have fun and how that will influence his story.

Fun Celtic Cross

Following the instructions in Mark Teppo’s book Jumpstart Your Novel, this is how I read the cards:

  1. Protagonist having fun: Temperance- finding the middle ground of two extremes
  2. The opposing factor: Ten of Wands- over-burdened
  3. The root cause: Wheel of Fortune- events out of one’s control
  4. The past: Ace of Swords upside-down – a fresh idea, a new start, a break-through; reversed.
  5. The alternate future (vision): The Fool – faith in its good and bad forms
  6. The immediate future: The Lovers – the calling; allow something to be scary and overwhelming, follow it knowing it will change you.
  7. The mirror (why I’m writing about my MC’s idea of fun): Two of Cups upside-down- an equal relationship that brings goodness to each party; reversed
  8. The eye (how others see my MC when having fun): Ten of Cups-  a happy ending, a promise of prosperity to come. A loving family.
  9. The guide (influences the outcome): Eight of Pentacles- diligence and craft, hard work
  10. The outcome (the result of my MC having fun): Two of Wands upside-down- in a position of power and ready to expand your horizons; reversed.

My interpretation: I thought it was pretty funny to ask the cards about how my main character has fun and how that influences the story and draw Temperance. It’s so perfect for my character. He would think finding the middle of the road was fun. He would like taking extreme things and combining them to be less extreme. So my character normalizes his world for fun. The fun is opposed by the amount of work it takes becoming burdensome. The root cause for this being his form of fun is that he doesn’t like events to be out of his control. Perhaps he finds ridding himself of extremes fun because of habits created in his childhood. Strict structure and repeated expectation in his up-bringing. He imagines a world without extremes where he can adventure without fear. In the immediate future he is finding his calling fun. He is having fun following clues and drawn to the new purpose even though it may cause changes in his routine.

I think the mirror card is telling me that I want to have fun and write fun scenes to balance the relationship between work and play.

When other people observe my MC having fun, thy see someone who has it all: a loving family, a nice home and a prosperous life. They don’t see that for him it is constant work to maintain what he has. He feels like fun takes away from prosperity and future possibilities to expand one’s horizons.

Ask Your Character

  • How would you describe yourself as a child?
  • Do you have any siblings? What were they like growing up?
  • Did you get into trouble? What was the worst thing you did?

Word Of The Day

elysian: adj. blissful, delightful

8 Action Verbs:

advised          changed           conveyed           encouraged

identified           mastered            publicized          solved

Poem prompt

Write an Ottava Rima about what your main character does for fun, or as your main character having fun.

What is fun?

Getting an engine to run
After it refuses to start
Now that’s what I call fun
Taking the pieces apart
Then the diagnosis is done
Which reveals the real art
The roar of success
Brings warm pride to my chest

Note: I ignored the syllable count, so the form ended up being an inspiration. Since I like the poem that came to me, a true Ottava Rima will need to be attempted another day.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Free write for 5 minutes. Write anything that comes to mind. After 5 minutes, look over the sentences you wrote. Did you write a variety of different sentences; different lengths, different forms? Or were all of the sentences very similar: He did this. He did that. Try re-writing what you wrote with a focus on sentence variation.

Today’s Simple Task

Highlight a symbol, icon or image

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. What is the rock and the hard place that your MC is wedged between? What funny thing can he do to get out of it.

Recommended Word Crawl

Since today is all about fun, I thought today would be a good day for The Princess Bride Word Crawl

Once you’ve reached your writing goal, you may want to celebrate by watching the movie The Princess Bride.

Though writing a novel is hard, writing is fun.

Let yourself have fun today.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 9: Sub-plots and Secondary Characters

Day 9
Word count: 15,847 words
Word count goal: 18,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Crossing the Threshold
Save The Cat: B-story

#vss very short story

Business trademarks finally reached right into Brenda’s life. She could no longer see the colors gold or black or say the words “Brenda”, “food” or “happy”.

Plotting with Tarot

crossing the threshold 2

Subplot Crossing the Threshold: Ten of Cups – a promise of prosperity to come

What secondary character risks losing by Crossing the Threshold: Eight of Cups upside-down – we have to leave what we have to go searching for what we lack; reversed. You may fear intimacy and have difficulty making and keeping your commitments.

Most compelling reason to cross the threshold: Eight of Pentacles – diligence and craft

My interpretation: My secondary character decides to travel across the country to try to clean up his subordinate’s mess. In attempting to fix a business relationship, he could reveal that his business is not above board.

Ask Your Character

  • Did you enjoy school?
  • What kind of student were you?
  • How would your classmates remember you?

Word Of The Day

rapprochement: n. establishment or re-establishment of harmonious relations.

8 Action Verbs:

administered          chaired          converted             elicited

highlighted          marketed          publicized           solved

Poem prompt

Turn on the radio to any channel. Write a poem inspired by the first thing you hear. – from Kelli Russell Agodon at agodon.com

This is similar to the creative writing assignment that inspired my flash fiction story Your New BAM-AG Home.

“Beside myself with excitement”

Beside Myself

With excitement I observe
Outside of the physical
Free of sensual bombardment
Floating free of pain and pressure

With myself beside

Awesome Sentence Challenge

from Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Achieving Excellence and Captivating Readers by Barbara Baig

Revise for phrases: Take a look at yesterday’s words; the thousands of words you were inspired to write yesterday. Are there any ways in which you could replace single words with phrases, or add phrases to your sentences to make them clearer or more powerful?

Today’s Simple Task

Secondary character – sub-plot. Make a list of possible sub-plots. Come up with at least five ideas for each secondary character.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. Write in first person from a secondary character’s  perspective. Have that character talk about their relationship with the MC.

Recommended Word Crawl

Stranger Things Chapter One

Don’t Forget To Read!

There’s a great chapter in Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron titled “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch that discusses subplots.
There’s a good section on subplots in The Plot Whisperer: A Groundbreaking Approach to Story Structure That Any Writer Can Master by Martha Alderson in the chapter called “The of the Journey.”
And there’s a whole chapter on subplots in Building Better Plots by Robert Kernen. I found this chapter to be the most informative.

If you would like to continue reading about subplots, her are some links to what other writers have written about them:

Lessons from Lucy: subplots from Dan Alatorre (make sure to read the comments)

How to Write Subplots with Author with Author Kristen Martin from Benjamin Thomas (starts at 1:55 in video)

On Sub-plotting from Thomas Edmund

“But I Wanted To Tell That Story, Too”: When A Sub-Plot Is Really Just Another Plot (Lesson Learned)from Matt Frick


Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 7: The Mentor

Day 7
Word count: 13,308 words
Word count goal: 14,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: The Mentor
Save The Cat: Act II


#vss very short story

After digging for hours, it dawned on Brandon that even his best friend was lying to him.

Plotting with Tarot

mentor reading

Mentor card: Magician upside-down – the creator dictating from the heavens. Reversed, the Magician can indicate greed, deceit, manipulation and using one’s skill and ability for negative ends. It can reflect trickery and cunning, untrustworthiness and mental confusion. – from biddytarot.com

How the hero sees the mentor at first: Two of Swords upside-down – requires that a decision be made. Reversed, Be sure that you are dealing with the right people and until you are absolutely sure – put off making any decisions. Your balance has been lost – you have been knocked over by the people and problems charging your defenses. The blindfold has been removed so that you can see the truth and communicate. This has been an emotionally shattering experience for you – you will need outside help. -from crystal-reflections.com

Most important lesson the hero will learn from the mentor : The Star – A time of rest and recovery. You are exactly where you should be and doing exactly what you should be doing. You have reached a state of balance.

My interpretation: It doesn’t look like my MC has a good mentor. He probably shouldn’t listen to his advice. The lesson he learns from his manipulative and untrustworthy mentor is that he’s on the right path and doing things right on his own.

Ask Your Character

  • Do you have a love of your life?
  • When did you first fall in love?
  • Can you tell me about your first kiss?

Word Of The Day

petrichor: n. a distinctive scent, usually described as earthy, pleasant, or sweet, produced by rainfall on very dry ground.

8 Action Verbs:

adapted          cataloged           controlled          educated

handled          maintained          prosecuted          showed

Poem prompt

Theme: learning and teaching – Who were your mentors? What was the most important lesson they passed on to you?

Today I’m going to attempt an Italian form called Rispetto.

The Mentor and Mentee

She volunteers to educate
Her art from years of practice show
To translate plans as patterns state
Important skills to cook and sew

Combining all the lessons learned
Early habits overturned
To leave mistakes to plague the past
An exponential knowledge vast

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Try sentences with these three different types of Verb phrases:

  1. Add two or more finite verbs together: verb+conjunction+verb
  2. Add a finite verb and an adverb: verb+adverb
  3. Add auxiliary verbs to the main verb: auxiliary verb+main verb

Today’s Simple Task

Raise another question for your MC to answer.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. Your MC receives an unexpected package. What does he do with it? Does he open it? What’s inside? – inspired by Kaori Leosarka (NaNo poster)

Recommended Word Crawl

Today feels like a good day for The Fall Crawl by Azombieatemyshoelace. It made me think of the great fall pairings I wrote about last month in my October pairings posts:

October Pairings (#OctPairs): Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles and Spooky Movies

October Pairings (#OctPairs): Halloween Candy and Books

October Pairings (#OctPairs): Movies & Drinking Games

Time to get a nice hot beverage and introduce my MC to his mentor.

Happy Reading and Writing!

National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) Day 1: The Ordinary World

Day 1
Word count: 0 words
Word count goal: 2,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: The Ordinary World
Save The Cat: Opening image / Theme stated

Welcome to the first day of your new novel. Today is all about that opening scene. What is your protagonist up to when first introduced? What is her daily life like before the conflict of your story happens? What is the call to action of your story? What happens that creates conflict and makes your protagonist break from the monotony of routine?

Don’t forget to draw the reader in with rich sensory information. I’ll be focusing on smell and texture in my opening scene.

#vss very short story

After the crash, he spent days wandering the forest. His mind began playing tricks on him. He smelled Ivory soap everywhere, bringing the panic of being locked in that horrible bathroom.

Plotting with Tarot

reading nov 1

So let’s see what the cards have to say about my protagonist’s ordinary world. Thinking about my character, I draw a card. This represents his Ordinary World. Then I draw two more cards and place one to the left and one to the right. The card to the left is what my character loves about his Ordinary World; the one to the right is what my hero believes is lacking about the Ordinary World. It’s what bothers him.

Ace of Pentacles – a new sense of security found through work and determination

The Magician – represents a new beginning- creativity and productivity and a connection to the divine.

Queen of Pentacles – practical and thrifty; knows how to make much with very little; as such is never in a state of want

My interpretation:

I hope this reading gives you some insight into the Ordinary World of your main character. Here is how I interpret this for mine. Please keep in mind that I am brand new to this and only using it as a plotting tool.

My main character has recently retired, but has strictly scheduled his time, volunteering and working at his investment properties. He was an engineer and now spends most of his time fixing things. The Ordinary World card, Ace of Pentacles, speaks to his new retired life and his new self-imposed rigid work schedule.

What he likes about his Ordinary World, The Magician, represents the projects he’s working on and the joy he finds working with his hands. He also finds community in his church and does not respect idleness.

What he doesn’t like, Queen of Pentacles, represents frustration that the things he fixes keep breaking. Something is always in need of repair. He feels like he is never making headway on his to-do list. It also upsets him that his investments of time and money don’t pan out for him. Sometimes he feels like the world is out to steal away every penny he has earned.

This is all great fodder for introducing my character. Now, I have to find ways to bring it into today’s scenes.

Ask Your Character

  • What are you proudest of in your life?
  • When have you felt most alone?
  • What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

Word Of The Day

autodidact: n. a person who has learned a subject without a teacher or formal training; a self-taught person.

8 Action Verbs:

One thing I’m constantly working on is using stronger and more precise language. Try to use at least one of these action verbs in your story today.

accelerated         balanced          consolidated          discovered

gathered             lectured            presented               scheduled

Poem prompt

In his book, This Year You Write Your Novel by Mosley, Walter (2009) Paperback, Walter Mosley said,

“Poetry is the fount of all writing. Without a deep understanding of poetry and its practices, any power the writer might have is greatly diminished.”

I ended up using some poems I wrote in my first novel. I recently read Mogens and Other Stories by Jens Peter Jacobsen and he included  a poem (in the form of a song) in every story. You never know what writing a poem will inspire. Throughout #Writober, my poems inspired my story ideas, so I hope poetry prompts with do the same for you.

I also found that combining many different prompts made for more creative poems. Can you combine one of the visual images with the word of the day, or something in the tarot reading and/or the action verbs?

Shadowpoetry.com has great explanations and examples of different poetry forms. I recommend trying a different one each day.

Today’s poetry prompt: Have your main character write a poem about his or her ordinary life. Let them express their current emotional state in a present tense free verse.

I Don’t Write Poetry

I would not write a poem, but
If I gathered up some words for today
And presented them in that kind of way
I might say my time is not meant for wordplay

I would not write a poem, but
I hear a loud squawking jay
Lazy bird stealing others’ eggs
Nature’s archetype of foul play

I would not write a poem, but
Let petals fall where they may
Life is a state of constant decay
But hard work helps the end’s delay


Awesome Sentence Challenge

Writing a novel is not only about writing an engaging story, it’s also about writing exciting and interesting sentences. So with the help of Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Achieving Excellence and Captivating Readers by Barbara Baig, I hope to improve my sentences with a daily challenge.

Because today is about getting to know our protagonists, today’s challenge is about collecting language.

Sentence Challenge: Find your character’s voice – Imagine your character speaking. Make a long list of words s/he uses. Use the words to come up with sentences and phrases your character uses often. Discover a catch phrase or two.

I have a friend who started to do impressions of my family members. Whenever he voices my brother, he says, “Always a pleasure.” I hadn’t noticed my brother said that phrase, but now I can’t not notice it, and he says it a lot.

Since then, I’ve noticed my friend says, “I see,” and I say, “No problem,” way too much.

Do you know what your catch phrase is? Listen for it (Or not. Once you discover it, it’ll probably drive you nuts).

Today’s Simple Task

Today is not only about introducing your main character, you need to put that character in a setting; his or her ordinary world.  While describing the setting, describe an object you know will be important later in the story.

Warm-up Exercise

Set a timer to 15 minutes. What does your main character want and why? What’s the first thing they will do to get it? – prompt  by Diana Gabaldon (Nano poster)

Recommended Word Crawl

Something I have found fun and motivational about NaNoWriMo are the word crawls. They are story, or task related games that challenge you to reach your word goals. On the NaNoWriMo website go to the forums and find Word Wars, Prompts, & Sprints. There you will find different crawls that writers have created. Nice NaNoer CJ Grace put together a google doc with a bunch of crawls you can download and do offline if you like to unplug while you work. There is also a great list of crawls at wikiwrimo.org.

Today, I recommend Write Your Way to a Clean House word crawl. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to meet your word goals and have a clean house to start the week?

Final Challenge

Keep a notebook and pen on the nightstand, or somewhere you will grab it the second you wake up tomorrow. The moment you open your eyes, try to describe the last dream image of the night. Write everything that pops into your head for at least one page. And yes, I mean before your first cup of coffee.

So there it all is. A ton of fun ways to stay motivated today. All of these prompts are meant to get your ideas flowing and words on the page. Pick and choose what works for you. I hope you have the best NaNoWriMo ever. Check back tomorrow for more inspiration, prompts and fun. Now to the writing!

Happy Reading and Writing