O for the love of writing

OWelcome back to the blog! Today we’ve got Ella Reece talking about the outline.

Here’s Ella.

Writing for me is full of “O”s.  Through the span of time I’ve been writing I have taken every OPPORTUNITY to learn and grow as a writer.  I’ve had some times when the outlook was not bright but with the indie revolution I am full of OPTIMISM, and continue to write my prose to feel OPPULENT – princes and billionaires – the joys of genre fiction.  Today however, I bring you ORGANIZATION with my favourite tool, the OUTLINE.

For everything I write I have to have an outline, no matter how brief or rough, so I make sure I hit all the key points.  For my fiction I have started to refer to this outline as beats, as it is the pulse of the work.  I have never been a plotter, when I pants it is only a scene or two, to find a story.  When I try and pants the whole thing, I invariably get lost.   This costs me in wasted time as I meander through a rosy world with nothing going on; more importantly it costs me words.  I abhor cutting words, but I like rabbit holes even less, having the signposts along the way stops most of that.  When I have an outline I know what I am doing at that writing session and where the work is heading, this optimizes my writing time allowing me to maximize my word count and get to a finished product more efficiently.

I also have a habit of telling my stories out of sequence if I am missing details or a particular character is begging for attention, I can move through my outline to that segment and work on that without having to go back and retrofit a whole new story line after the work is complete.  That is not to say I don’t learn things along the way, but the things I discover as I go through the actual writing, I simply jot it into my outline.   This allows me to carry the forward momentum that you need to actually finish a manuscript.   Further benefits to working with an outline include ensuring my scenes and chapters hit all the requirements to satisfy a reader and the story with hooks and red herrings, depending on the story.

I use an outline as part of my revision as well, so I know where the holes and gaps are.  Ideally my edits start with the most problematic and down to the smallest issues instead of trying to go from start to finish.  This way I am not going through and fixing the fixes repeatedly and getting bogged down.  Fixing the big stuff first will cause ripples through the entire manuscript and you can then go through the outline noting where those ripples are in concentric and lessening degrees.  You still need to do the edit, re-read and re-evaluate to make sure the story has the continuity and crispness required before going to your editor, but using the trusty outline certainly makes that process easier.

This is a recurring theme in many blog posts and podcasts relating to the craft and business of writing over the last few years.  You can read titles like from 2K to 10K by Rachel Aaron, or Write. Publish. Repeat. and Fiction Unboxed by Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant and David Wright, and those guys write between 1.5 and 2 million words each year.  Let’s face it, to earn a living with writing it is a numbers game, you must produce a large volume of quality work.  That isn’t going to happen if you sit down each day not being sure where you are going and how you are going to get there.

I leave you there my friend as I go and discover the new map of my next world.

Blessed be,



Ella Reece is the author of historical and paranormal romance stories. She lives in a small haunted town almost a half an hour past nowhere, where her imagination allows her to roam history and other planes. A strong belief in happily ever after, she shares her life with Darling her hero and their 2 pixies. During the week she handles corporate escalations for a computer manufacturer allowing her to explore the psyche of a wide range of individuals which help to give depth to the people in he landscape of her mind.

Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ellareece1

Like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorEllaReece

Blurb for Masquerade:

MasqueradeV4finalMysteries abound at the Vatican. Marcello Di Amante has been summoned to uncover who has been stealing relics from the Vatican. His reputation as a sleuth is put to the test when two murders are discovered on the day of his meeting with Pope Pius III. Marcello vows to bring the culprits to justice. His investigation brings him to England where he meets Sandrina.

Death haunts Sandrina MacPhearson, who believes her relationships are built on a foundation of fear and dishonesty. Duncan Langstaff, her betrothed, disappeared on the day of her wedding. Every night her dreams are haunted by images of a dead woman, in a pool of blood, with Duncan towering over her. Sandrina becomes entangled with Marcello’s investigation and finds herself in danger in Italy.

Intrigue is afoot at the masquerade at the Doge’s Palace in Venice, a city of secrets. What should lead to the unmasking of a murderer, instead sees the headstrong Sandrina kidnapped and Marcello must find her before any harm befalls her.

Buy on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Masquerade-ebook/dp/B00D9EL2YW/

Cindy here again.

Good points on using an outline. I’ve started doing that more and find the writing goes much faster.

Keep writing.


Balancing facts and story in historical fiction

Hi everyone. Welcome to GWN’s blog. Relax, get a cup of whatever you have in the morning to wake you up and get ready for some tips on historical accuracy in historical fiction from Erin Farwell.

Here’s Erin!

IMG_1300_ppAn author’s job is to tell a story and to tell it well. Like a juggler with several balls in the air, a writer must keep their story balanced with regard to plot, characters, setting, and pacing. Regardless of the genre, the story must be grounded in a specific time and place. This is especially true for historical fiction, where one false move can wrench a reader from the world you’ve created. Keeping a reader engaged is both the goal and the challenge.


With historical fiction it is easy to make a misstep, creating a rift between reader and the story. Here are some of the common errors historical fiction writers make and how to avoid them:


  • Sharing your research and forgetting to tell a story. Most writers have more facts and details at their disposal than they will ever use in a book. I find this helpful when I write because I am able to understand the life of my characters even if I don’t include everything in the story. The problem occurs when a writer comes across a detail or series of facts that he or she finds fascinating and wants to share with the world. The moment your research takes precedence over plot or character development, you risk alienating the reader. If you rearrange a scene or create a convoluted set of circumstance just to share a fact that you find interesting, stop. If the detail doesn’t naturally fit in the story, it doesn’t belong there. You might use it in another project but don’t force it into this one. Keep the story your priority.


  • Highlighting a process that was different at the time the story is set than it would be today. Writing about the small details of your world will ground the story for readers and help them empathize with the characters. However sharing details is not the same as sharing processes. Unless the information is necessary to the plot, a reader doesn’t need to know the specifics of how to start a wood burning stove, milk a cow, forge a horseshoe, cook over an open fire, or weave cloth. You need to trust that your readers to have their own knowledge that they bring to the story. As a general rule of thumb, if someone living in the time the story is set would find a process unworthy of comment, so should your characters unless it is critical to your plot or character development.


  • Using modern concepts or verbiage in your story. In my novel I have a scene in which a young boy leads an adult to a house. The boy runs ahead, then back to the adult, then ahead again. As I wrote the scene I wanted to describe the boy’s behavior as being like a yoyo. A quick internet search informed me that while yoyos did exist in 1927, they had just come on the market and were only sold California. The phrase I wanted to use was not a part of society’s lexicon in 1927 so I had to find a different description. The same was true when I said someone was going to babysit a child. In 1927 you minded a child, not babysat. These may seem like small issues, unworthy of notice, but many readers will catch them and it will draw them out of the story.


  • Acknowledging a future event. Another name for this problem is author intrusion. There are times when an author might be tempted to write something like: “Little did Jeb know that the swamp he hunted in would one day be transformed into the city of Miami.” This type of phrase yanks a reader out of the world you’ve created and they may not wish to come back. The characters can only know what the typical person would know at the time the story is set and to include anything else is a disservice both to the reader and to your work.  Sometimes this situation can occur more subtly then you might be aware. One of my personal pet peeves is when a book set in the 1920s or 1930s has the phrase “World War I” rather than “the Great War.” The Great War didn’t become WWI until the Second World War started. The nuances are small but significant.


  • Placing accuracy over story. While accuracy is of great importance in historical fiction, you don’t need to be fanatical when certain issues arise. For example, if a shift in the location of a building, especially one that is not generally known to the typical reader, is a better fit for your story, do it. Just don’t put the Parthenon in France. In my novel a hotel that I use as a landmark was closed for renovations in 1927. I am probably one of five people who know this and no one else is likely to care. Originally I had written the situation accurately but later realized I had spent too much time on what was to have been a passing comment. I decided to trade pacing over fact, which was the right choice for the story.


Farwell-Shadowlands-Final Cover.inddAs writers of historical fiction we face a heavy burden. Readers expect to be taken into the past with an entertaining plot, interesting characters and historical accuracy. We are truly jugglers, balancing these expectations within the construct of our plot, pacing, characters and the story as a whole, but that is the key. As long as your research supports the story rather than becomes the story, you will avoid one of the biggest mistakes made by emerging historical novelists.

Visit Erin’s website: http://www.erinfarwell.com
Check out Erin’s Author page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/erinfarwell
Find Erin on GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/Erin50

Cindy here again!

Some great points here, Erin! When I’m going back to revise my historicals I will keep these tips in mind.

Happy Writing!


Yves Fey’s Own Private NaNoWriMo

Today I’ve got Yves Fey on the blog talking about her own version of NaNoWriMo.

Here’s Yves!

Sporadically, but for several years, I’ve been attempting NaNoWriMo, with varying degrees of failure. It is 180 degrees from my writing style and I feel intimidated, not freed, by its format.  Usually I plunge in valiantly, land with a resounding belly flop, then slink off and resume my usual plodding pace.  Nonetheless, this year I’ve decided to use NaNoWriMo as a goad.

My goal is simple, but significant—to further the second mystery in my series, which has been languishing for months.  I have a precious few chapters and scenes that I wrote about this time last year, before I entered the months long final edits and market phases for the release of the first book, Floats the Dark Shadow. The method for my own private NaNoWriMo is to write 1,000 words a day developing my synopsis bits into actual scenes or possibly even chapters.

I’m a plotter, not a pantser.  Tackling a novel is far too scary to me to attempt without the framework of an outline.  I spend about a month or two brooding over what I want to happen, the order of events, the conflicts.  This is combined with research, hunting for some intriguing historic bits to anchor the book in its era.  In the case of my sequel, I knew that the Dreyfus Case would be the backdrop long before I knew what story would play against it.  I have had my basic outline for some time, though I did a revision knowing November was fast approaching.  Although I think of my books as character driven, my struggles with synopses focuses on getting the events into a timeline, blocking out the emotional high points occur, and trying to spot the problems that will trip me up.  If I’m lucky, I will be granted bits of dialogue, the idea for an interesting twist, even a scene here and there.  Once I have the vision for the book laid out, my brain shuts down on adding details.  These outlines are fairly basic, and in the past I’ve tried to force development, only to find myself staring at a blank page for days or weeks.  I’ve learned that I really have to start writing before the rest will come.

I begin to write, and proceed, for the most part, chapter by chapter.  But I really can’t abide rough draft.  I’m appalled by the flatness of the prose, the clichés, and the characters chewing uncomfortably on the words shoved into their mouths.  Other plotters and pantsers forge ahead.  I begin to develop.  I work and rework until the story begins to come to life and the writing with it – a chicken or the egg sort of process whereby a good line of dialogue that I dream up suddenly fits the mouth it’s designed for.  Or the characters wake up and tell me what to write (please).  Again, others would forge on at this point.  But once the chapter is actually half decent, it’s fun.  I love revising!  I get new ideas, I quest for stronger verbs, subtleties of motivation emerge, descriptions blossom.  So, I enjoy myself until I have a finished chapter that I actually like well enough to move on.  This is a slow way to go about it, but it grounds me for the leap into the uncharted world on the next chapter, with no more than my synopsis snippet to guide me.   But despite doing a lot of preparation, as a writer I’m terribly dependent on inspiration, and often go through long dry periods of waiting for the muse to whisper.

So NaNoWriMo has always intrigued me because it does address one of my biggest problems—procrastination.  And once again I’m undertaking it, but on my own terms.  My primary goal is the 1,000 words a day.  I’ve also let myself do some building on the chapters I have, but only if I don’t linger if stuck.  I have succeeded more often than not, and I am also not berating myself if I don’t succeed, provided I do something.  I am not allowing myself to burrow in.  While I’m not going to attempt to write without editing, which I’ve learned is essentially impossible for me, neither am I allowing myself to sit staring at the page endlessly until the right word materializes.  I don’t flee the room if it doesn’t (except for more coffee).  If a few minutes of fiddling, sighing, and growling has produced nothing to further the chapter, I move on to another piece of the synopsis and see what can be brought to life from that segment of the novel.  I have not been all that happy with the writing so far, but I am happy that I’m undertaking the challenge.  I am going to do this for the month of November.  I didn’t sign up on the NaNoWriMo site.  This is my quiet sideline to the valiant frenzy I know is happening with the official participants.   It’s a more modest challenge, but a big one for me.

Wish me luck.

About Yves: Yves Fey has an MFA in Creative Writing from Eugene Oregon, and a BA in Pictorial Arts from UCLA.  She has read, written, and created art from childhood.  Floats the Dark Shadow is her debut mystery, set in Belle Époque Paris.  Writing as Gayle Feyrer and Taylor Chase, she previously wrote four dark and mysterious historical romances.  A chocolate connoisseur, she’s won prizes for her desserts.  Her current fascination is creating perfumes.  She’s traveled to many countries in Europe and lived for two years in Indonesia.  She currently lives in the San Francisco area with her husband and three cats, Marlowe the Investigator and the Flying Bronte Sisters.


Cindy here!

Thanks for being here Yves. Loved learning how you’re approaching NaNoWriMo. Good luck!

Happy writing!



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