Ways to Organize a Story Without Using a Traditional Outline


Every writer has his or her own method for organizing the key events and subplots of a story. Some love a good old-fashioned traditional outline. Some can’t stand even the thought of it.

The longer we spend immersed in a story, though, the harder it becomes to keep track of what’s going on. The bigger a story gets, the easier it is to get lost. Even if you can still write straight through to the end, when it’s time to edit, there’s often a good story buried beneath the chaos … somewhere.

How do we find it? Outlining, of course. But not in the way you might be thinking of.

Here are three ways to organize different elements of your story, before, during and/or after you write it.

Character Sketches

No, you don’t have to physically draw out your characters, though you can if you want to, if that will help you picture them better in your mind. The purpose of a character sketch – writing out a list of random questions and answers to discover traits for each of your characters – is for you to familiarize yourself with that character, and to practice, based on their personalities, how they might react to different situations.

Start off with seemingly unimportant ‘questions’ like hair and eye color, height, weight, etc. Move on to habits, good or bad; hobbies; history. You never know which of these answers might spark an idea for a significant event in your story, or prompt you to turn a small quirk you’ve already incorporated once or twice in your story into a full-on motif.

Our post, How to Write a Character Sketch, is on the way – check back soon!

Conflict-Resolution Chart

Some writers really struggle with tying up loose ends. Plot holes are very common in first drafts, especially since one story might take you months or even years to write. You might start running with one subplot and unintentionally abandon it simply because you just forgot it existed.

For each significant character, map out, on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet, the conflicts they are each dealing with throughout the story and how they come to resolve them. Character development is one key element of a good story, and this can be an effective way to make sure each of your characters, within the same bigger story, are each growing on an individual level.

Read more about this outlining method.

A Map Sketch or Calendar

Which one you use depends on the story you’re writing.

If you’re writing a story that relies heavily on location, such as a sci-fi or fantasy story might, you’d probably use a rough sketch of a map to track where your characters are going and which events occur at each place.

Stories that are much more dependent on time, such as John Green’s Looking for Alaska, might require using an actual calendar to help you get a better idea of which significant plot points happen when. Green and his editor actually used this method to keep track of days, which you can check out in the back of the book’s 10th anniversary edition.

Give some of these a try next time you’re feeling a little lost. Hopefully they’ll be of some help. Good luck! Write on!

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Novel Editing Tips for Writers Who Hate Self-Editing


Many writers also love editing. But they don’t always love editing their own work.

By the time you’ve finished a long-form writing project, it can feel like you’ve already read the entire thing over and over again a hundred times. To go back and pick it apart seems like a nightmare, doesn’t it?

If you despise self-editing, but still want to touch up your novel (or any project really) before taking your next steps, here are a few tips to help get you through it.

Outline after you’re finished writing

Seems a little backwards, doesn’t it? Aren’t you supposed to outline your story BEFORE you write it?

Well, you can. But some writers don’t like doing that. The benefit of outlining AFTER you’re done writing is that you can use your literary analysis skills on your own story without having too many tenth grade English flashbacks. It helps you pay attention to various elements of your story as a whole rather than focusing too much on small things like spelling.

Use this technique to make sure all your loose ends are tied up. Spelling and grammar can be fixed easily by a copy editor, but if your story has plot holes, it doesn’t stand a chance in the publishing race. Even if your end goal isn’t to get your book published, quality is still important (and essential, if you want anyone to read and enjoy it even just for fun).

Give yourself a wide deadline and take it slow

Editing a book can be overwhelming regardless of the word count. Whether you have a 50,000-word novelette or an 110,000-word monster novel, that’s a lot of words to pick through in any amount of time. You might feel totally motivated at first. You might read and copy edit half your book and then realize you really do hate what you’re doing (it happens). You might just stop.

Give yourself a deadline – a faraway deadline that gives you plenty of room to take things a few pages at a time, if you have to. Work slowly toward that date: there’s no rush. But do your best to work on it a little bit every day, so you’re still making progress, even if it’s gradual. You may not feel like you’re getting anything done. But you’ll be finished before you know it.

Choose what to focus your edits on and stick to it

There’s more than one type of editing when we’re talking novel revisions. You can edit for content (making sure everything makes sense and that every element is consistent). You can edit for flow on a small or large scale (do sentences, paragraphs, chapters, etc. flow smoothly from one to the next?). You can copy edit. You can check your facts (if you did some light research on something scientific but didn’t have time to get into too much detail while writing).

The reason a lot of writers hate self-editing is because they try to do every single type of edit at once. Don’t do that! Pick one, stick with it straight through, take a break and then repeat the process with a different kind of edit. Revisions take a long time. There are multiple rounds to the process. It becomes easier if you take it one thing at a time. Edit spelling and grammar first, if that’s going to prevent you from doing any other kind of edit. Then move on to content. And so on.

You CAN do this. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s time-consuming. You’ll probably end up doing a lot of rewriting, adding, cutting. This is a good thing. Polishing is necessary. No first draft is a “good” draft. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. It means it needs some work, and if you want your book to be the best it can be, you WILL find the strength to push through it all.

Want more novel editing tips? Check out our Five Stress-Free Steps to Revising Your Novel.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

3 Mistakes New Writers Make (and How to Avoid Them In the Future) | PROBLOGGER WRITING CHALLENGE


Every writer makes mistakes, which is all part of the process. Here are a few common mistakes new writers make, and “fixes” for them in the future.

The Mistake: Treating dialogue like prose

One of the hardest things to figure out how to do when you’re first getting into writing is transitioning back-and-forth between writing dialogue and writing prose. They are two very different styles of writing that somehow have to flow smoothly from one to the other and back again, and often, a narrator’s inner voice and the words she speaks blend together a little too much, unintentionally.

She is going to go to the store tomorrow and “You gonna go to the store later” are two completely different sentences. We do not talk the way we write (at least, we train ourselves not to the more we practice). But we do have to write dialogue the way we typically speak it, which can be challenging if we’re not used to writing that way.

The Fix: While it might sound a little extreme, you’ll need a friend or family member for this one. Take a string of dialogue and have you and another person speak it out loud back and forth to each other. Record it using your phone or computer. Play it back. Does it sound real? If not, take some time to watch an episode of your favorite show or listen to a few minutes of a podcast. Or just people-watch for awhile. Study how real dialogue sounds, go back to your story and try your best to replicate it. And repeat.

Check out our tips for writing realistic dialogue.

The Mistake: Basing a story too closely off your personal life

It probably happens to every newer writer, so don’t feel embarrassed if it has happened or is currently happening to you. Things happen to us and we want to turn those life-changing events into fictional accounts. Great for practicing storytelling, we suppose, but if you’re trying to get serious about publishing a piece of fiction, you might want to reconsider.

In reality, no matter how dramatic our real lives might seem, they will never be as thrilling and suspenseful as the fiction we read and watch in books and on television. Our stories are, well, boring. Unless you’re writing a memoir for a good reason, basing a piece of fiction on your personal life is not the smartest way to go.

The Fix: Draw inspiration from key events and memories in your life and the lives of those around you. Use these emotions and ideas as foundations from which you can build new stories you have never experienced firsthand before.

The Mistake: Going with the “safe” ending

At times writing a novel almost feels like a ‘choose your own adventure’ sequence IRL. Do you go with the ending you want to write, or the ending your readers will be more satisfied with? Do you choose the riskier option or take the safe route? How do you even choose at all?

The problem with choosing the “safe” ending, which many new novelists do, is that you ultimately end up throwing away an opportunity to write something unique and unexpected. Remember in Stranger Than Fiction, when the author has to choose between killing off her main character and keeping him alive? She has a choice between killing him and writing a “great book” and letting him live … and, well, not.

The Fix: Your first instinct is often times the right one. Second-guessing yourself does happen. But it’s the endings we feel are too dark, too dramatic, too unexpected, too upsetting, that often end up being the ending that turns a good book into a great one. Go with your gut. Don’t worry about what your audience will think (yet).

Being new at anything is tough. Keep practicing. If you’re in this for the long haul, you’ll be able to learn and grow over time. Being aware and learning from these kinds of mistakes is just the beginning.

Image courtesy o Novelty Revisions.

How to Use Facebook as a Useful Writing Prompt


Every once in awhile, there are days we need a little extra help.

As we’ve pointed out more than a few times here, writing isn’t as much of a solo activity as you might think. When you get stuck, and need something to get you started up again, it’s honestly not very likely you’re going to be able to do it on your own. You’re going to need someone else to push you.

Someone else, or an entire social network. Facebook, to be exact.

Here’s how to use FB to jumpstart your writing when your progress has come to a halt.

Don’t just follow news sites; explore the comments (carefully)

We say carefully because, well, comments sections can turn into deep, dark black holes if you don’t proceed with caution. Sometimes it’s not even the news stories themselves, but every Facebook commenter’s unsolicited opinions about them, that can generate a string of fresh ideas in the back of your mind.

See what’s out there. What are people’s biggest hangups about everyday life? How to people respond to this or that stereotypical person being talked about in the media or on a user-generated content site? Comments sections, especially on Facebook, are an excellent way to gain a better understanding of how people behave, and if nothing else, you might get another quirky character sketch out of it for later use.

Just don’t go overboard. When you feel yourself getting sucked in, run away. Fast.

Join a writing group or follow pages like this one

Especially during WriMos, writing groups and writing-related pages on Facebook are filled with questions, observations and even writing prompts themselves. Not only can you find potential writing “partners” to word war or sprint with, but also, when you’re running low on ideas and need something to get you going, it’s hard not to find a post that will give you exactly what you need when you need it.

You can even reach out to these communities and say, “Hey, I’m feeling a little blocked right now. Anyone have a random prompt that can at least get me going?” You might be surprised at how many fellow writers are willing to jump in to help someone in creative need. Sometimes just a few hundred words of bouncing off of a stranger’s prompt can motivate you to go right back to your current project and start working on it again.

Start your own Facebook RP

Roleplay writing communities are everywhere on the Internet, and they’re great for writing practice and meeting fellow writers. You don’t have to make a commitment to one of these communities to practice in a similar style, however. If you’re running low on ideas, a simple Facebook status might, or might not, be able to spark a few new ones.

Post a status along the lines of, “Can you continue this story?” followed by a paragraph of fiction. Many of your FB friends will probably scroll right past it, but some of them might actually join in and write a paragraph in succession to yours. You can either wait and see if anyone else adds onto theirs or “answer” back. It’s fun, it’s informal and you might even make someone else’s day a little better in the process, too.

As long as you don’t spend too much time on it, Facebook can be a worthwhile place to find the inspiration that’s gone missing. Even if you don’t log on very often, give it a try. If it doesn’t work for you, at least you’ll be able to take a short break from writing in the process. But it’s worth a shot.

Think social media is too much of a writing distraction for you? Check out this post to weigh the pros and cons of writing and SM.

Image courtesy of eweek.com.

Am I Addicted to Writing?


At the end of last week, I finished writing a book. Believe me, there was a lot of dancing and celebration after that 3.5 year-long stretch of wondering if it was ever going to be done. I’d been telling myself for a long time, as an incentive, that I was going to take a week off of fiction writing once I finished. Which worked out nicely, since there just happened to be one week between finishing and the start of National Novel Writing Month (TODAY!).

Friday night was great. Saturday and Sunday were great. And then something happened.

The second I stopped writing, I sort of, well, fell apart.

I know I completely burned myself out the week I finished writing my book. In that same week I plowed through a lot of other work so I could have the weekend off, which at one point involved writing four articles in one day (that’s a lot of work to do if you’re not getting paid to do it, I’m just being honest, it was rough). I could feel it. I slept later, dragged myself through every single school assignment and article I had to get done this week and just barely made a deadline yesterday.

It happens to the best of us, which is why I didn’t let it bother me too much, but then midnight hit last night/this morning. And I just sat there and wrote 250 words of MY NEW BOOK like it was no big deal, like all of a sudden my funk just reversed itself.

That bothered me a little bit more.

They (the experts) say addiction is a person’s way of subconsciously distracting themselves from reality. It’s not that my life is all that awful or anything, I mean, I have a place to live and food and coffee, you know, all the necessities. I’m getting an advanced education and I’m able to do what I love every day and sometimes my cat even likes me. But sometimes, I’m hit with the reality that I’m a college graduate (double that), broke, unemployed and single, and that’s not a fun recurring realization to have.

It is, however, the reality that hit me (again) as soon as I stopped writing for a few days. Which sort of made me wonder: am I addicted to writing? And if I am, is it really such a bad thing?

If I would have broken my own rule and worked on a short story this week while waiting for NaNoWriMo to start, would I have felt better? Did I feel so awful because I stopped writing, or did I stop writing because I felt so awful?

Am I forever trapped in this cycle of always having to be working on a piece of fiction if I want to stay sane? Am I never allowed to take a break? Or was it just a coincidence, and I just happened to feel awful the same week I was attempting to take a fiction break?

Am I writing too many articles and not enough fiction? Does there need to be a balance? These questions have been running through my head all morning. The nice thing is that I’ll be doing a whole lot of both this month now that NaNo has BEGUN! Feel free to join me, by the way.

Am I a little creatively insane? Yeah, probably. I don’t mind it. If writing a lot makes me happy, and someday a miracle happens and I can actually get paid to do what makes me happy (I’ll never stop trying), I’ll shout my writing addiction to the heavens. I’ll write it on my driveway with sidewalk chalk. I’ll write until my fingers fall off. As long as I get a break every now and then, I’m good.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

Can You Relate to These Major Blogging Struggles?


It has been nearly eight months since I first launched Novelty Revisions, and when I wrote my first post on this “new” website, my life was undergoing a lot of changes. Which is the main reason why NR came to be. I was starting graduate school. Just starting to adjust to my first full-time job. Just barely three months out of college, struggling to figure out what my next steps and goals were.

It was the perfect time to start something new, or, more accurately, take something that needed a makeover and putting all my heart and soul into making it the best it could be.

When my temporary job ended at the end of April (we finished the project and, you know, big companies have budgets and it’s expensive to hire new people with only four months of experience), my priorities got all mixed up. Some days school was my main focus, while others it was my internship. Some days I was able to make this my priority, and eventually in June I was able to start a cycle I have yet to break – daily posting, because that was what I knew this thing needed in its early days.

Honestly, now that October is coming to an end, I’ve been thinking about making a lot more changes. That’s just how my mind works: I always like to keep moving forward. But I’ve realized in the past week that even though I’ve been posting every day for this long, it hasn’t gotten easier or better or anything like that. Before this website became what it is now, it was a personal blog. I’ve been blogging for a long time, and somehow, I’ve realized, I am still really struggling.

Because I like to be transparent with my readers (that’s important, in the writing world, I think), I wanted to share some of my biggest blogging struggles. Things I’m slowly figuring out, but that are still keeping me from giving you the best content possible. I know some of you appreciate it, but I promise, it’s not my best writing. I know I can do so much better than this.

Can you relate to any of these?

Expanding on a seemingly narrow writing niche

Writing about writing is not an uncommon thing, and I knew that coming into this. So far, thanks to Problogger and even a few entrepreneurial podcasts, I’ve been able to take some pretty broad ideas and squeeze a few hundred posts out of them. I still write about myself more often than I like (exhibit A) but some days that’s all I can manage. As much writing experience as I have, I’m no expert, so a lot of times I have to go off of only what I know, and not everyone cares to read that stuff too often.

Knowing what your audience wants to read

The most important thing I’ve learned from this is that, if you want your blog or website to grow, you have to be okay with writing about what you want to write about and what you find interesting. Those who enjoy your writing style and topics will follow/subscribe or come back for more. Some won’t, and you can’t force people to stick around. I avoid that kind of marketing as much as possible. I just want my readers to be happy, but my happiness as a writer is important, too. I don’t always know what other writers want to read about that’s writing-related, but I do what I can and run with it.

Balancing quantity with quality

As I mentioned above, posting every day has its pros as well as its cons. The main downside is that I know I’m not giving my readers the best possible content I could. I’m not putting as much effort into finding writers to interview as I used to. Sometimes my tips are too vague or I don’t give enough examples. Some of our most popular posts obviously take more time to do, and some days I just have so much on my plate I need to wake up, get a post published and move on with my day.

These are all struggles I’m trying my best to overcome little by little. Change doesn’t have to be drastic: it can be gradual. The last half of December and the first half of January I will be on break from school (dance dance dance) and should be able to dedicate a lot of that extra time to making some nice improvements to Novelty Revisions. As always, if you have any suggestions for posts or anything else, I’m open to feedback. I like to think of this site, as small as its readership is, as a community. We’re here to help each other. I just happen to be the one with the admin privileges.

Share your major blogging, or writing in general, struggles below in the comments. Everyone wrestles with different ones, but maybe you have a few in common with someone else and didn’t even know it.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

How to Take a “Productive” Break from Writing


If you’re a writer, you know how hard it is to explain your “process” to people who aren’t writers. Writing isn’t just about coming up with a story and splashing it all onto a page in one sitting. Even art and creativity take months, sometimes years of work. No matter how much you might love what you do, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sometimes leave you feeling drained and exhausted.

Every once in awhile you need a break. Even if you’re afraid you won’t be able to start up again, it’s often inevitable. Your brain needs rest. Especially when you’ve just recently finished a big project and can barely remember your own name (who am I again?).

Here’s how to take a break from writing AND stay productive while still giving your brain time to piece itself back together again.

Read that book you’ve been staring at for three months

Most experts agree: all writers should read things written by other writers. And you might love reading possibly even more than you love writing, but it’s not easy to balance writing your own story while simultaneously reading someone else’s.

While you’re on your writing break, take advantage of the time and space and pick up that book you’ve been wanting to read, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. This will help you continue to think creatively while you’re not actually writing. Plus, you’ll get to read a great story or two, which can inspire you to do more than just write.

Stalk a few authors on Twitter

Don’t take this the wrong way, but successful writers are interesting people, right? But you’re probably not constantly online following what they’re up to (unless it’s John Green, obviously) because you have your own life to worry about. You can learn a lot from authors, though. Like what’s going on in the publishing industry, who’s working on a new book, how they handle the tough stuff.

Inspiration comes in many forms, and sometimes just paying attention to your “industry leaders” is exactly what you need during your break. Especially if you’re taking a break because you’re feeling a little burnt out and hopeless (it happens). These people can do it! So can you.

Channel your creativity into something different

You aren’t just a writer: you are a creator. Writing might be your primary way of channeling that creativity into something constructive, but even that needs a rest every once in awhile. When it’s time to take a break from writing, you can step away from the computer without having to shut down your creative cycle completely.

Take this time to do something you’ve never done before, or haven’t done in a long time. Launch yourself out of your comfort zone. Paint a picture. Sing! Dance! Organize your books in reverse alphabetical order instead of by author or genre. It doesn’t matter what you do. Just do something to remind yourself creativity comes in many forms. Remind yourself to appreciate other forms of art and expression, even if writing is still your outlet of choice.

Taking a short writing break won’t hurt you. In fact, you might find that when you do come back to writing after a few days or even a few weeks, you’ll feel more motivated to get going than you ever have before.

Want to continue developing your skills during your writing hiatus? Here are a few more things you can do.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Am I the Only One Who Doesn’t Hate Cliffhangers At the End of Books?


I’m going to be very transparent here for a second (aren’t I always?) and admit to you that, apparently, I am not like a lot of other readers.

I’ve wanted to write a post about cliffhangers for a long time, and there’s finally open space in my queue this week to squeeze one in. So naturally I started doing a little research to find out what the experts had to say about them, since I’ve never actually published a book, and can’t technically call myself an expert (yet).

What I found surprised me. And kind of scared me a little, honestly.

Apparently, a lot of people hate cliffhanger endings. With a deep, burning passion.

Which is alarming me only because, as a reader, I absolutely love them.

From what I’ve been reading, it seems like book lovers would much rather have all their questions answered by the end of a story than having to hang from a figurative cliff until the next book comes out.

A lot of reasoning seems to point toward the fact that people don’t want to wait months or years to find out what happens next.

I don’t know if it makes me sound naïve, but I’m really struggling here. I don’t understand this at all. And I’ve been reading, and writing, for a long time, as I’m sure many of you have.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t just read for the sake of reading a good story. I read for the emotional stimuli, too (or the mental, if we’re talking The Da Vinci Code or something). When a book ends on a cliffhanger, of course I have the typical “I need to know what happens next” reaction.

But at the same time, I already know they’ve hooked me. I know that when I do get to read the next book, it’s going to be great. But then … I just move on. I start a new book. Do I think about all my leftover unanswered questions from the last book? Occasionally. But I love that feeling. It’s one metric I use to gauge whether I’ve read what I consider to be a “good book” or not.

At this point in my fiction writing “career,” I still only write for myself. So while I know it will change if/when I start working with an agent, right now, I care a lot less about what my potential readers want than I probably should. Ever since, well, a few months ago, I’ve planned to end my book on a cliffhanger. The cliffhanger portion of the story is already written, actually, even though the book itself isn’t finished yet (but I’m getting closer).

It’s not that I’m worried about what my readers think. What I’m most concerned about as I type this is not being able to, someday, sell a book with a cliffhanger because everyone apparently hates them so much.

I’m not being a hypocrite here. In the writing process you have to focus on one thing at a time, and I know I’ve written on the blog before about worrying about finishing your story before anything else. But I’m at that point where I’m so close to being done, my brain is already moving past it. I’m thinking ahead. Probably too much further ahead than I need to be.

I just don’t know what to think. I know I’m not the only writer who toys with the idea of a cliffhanger every now and then. But am I the only reader that thinks cliffhangers are not only acceptable … but attractive?

Even if I’m over-thinking this, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Yell at me.

Disagree with me.

Tell me I’m not crazy (or even that I am).

Or just type a smiley face. If you want.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

Let’s Write, Learn and Grow Together


About seven months ago, I published this post. Which, at first glance, doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, right? It’s not much different than the daily posts you’ve seen appear here every day since June (that’s a lot of posts). It’s not like you haven’t seen plenty of posts like this before.

There’s something special about it, though. Can you guess what it is?

It was, officially, the first post I ever published on Novelty Revisions.

That was a big deal, seven months ago. Because even though I had been blogging aimlessly for six years and had about 20 or so subscribers, I hadn’t been posting regularly. My posts weren’t really about anything, and the posts about writing didn’t really have a clear audience. I wanted to keep blogging, but I needed structure. I needed something new, without completely getting rid of the old stuff.

It took me weeks of long train rides and late nights in February trying to figure out what I wanted my blog to be. Seven months ago, though, I figured it out. And at some point, you showed up. Since March, subscribers have quadrupled. Site hits are consistently, well, not zero.

It’s not about numbers, though. I don’t want you to think that’s all I care about. The reason I spend so much time on my work for Novelty is that, in doing so, I get to help other writers. I get to share my experiences and put an honest, yet motivational spin on writing advice. It’s a tough gig. The majority of writers don’t get paid to do what they do. I don’t make money doing this. Numbers aren’t important to me, unless I’m trying to measure growth, and how many people I am able to help with each daily post.

That’s how we improve. As writers and as humans. We look at where we used to be, so we can motivate ourselves to continue to improve.

Our number of readers is slowly, but steadily growing. I really do appreciate the kind comments you all take the time to leave in that handy dandy little box down there. I’m here to help you, but really, we help each other. I don’t always know the kind of content you want to read, but I’m learning. I’m learning that change is actually one of the many keys to successful growth, in anything.

We are growing, which is great. But if I just kept doing what I’ve been doing the last seven months, that growth will eventually level off. I don’t want things to stay the same. And I’m sure you don’t, either.

That’s right, Noveltiers. Change is coming. And it’s coming soon.

Our flow of content and the content itself will stay the same. I’m not going anywhere. It’s still my mission to help you put your ideas into words, whether I’m talking about a literary concept or time management or just motivating you to keep going and stay strong when you want to burn all your manuscripts (don’t do that). But I think this blog, website, whatever you prefer to call it, can do more than that. I want to do more than that, for you.

You’ve given me a lot, over the past seven months. I owe you.

So starting next month, for the first time in the history of this blog and all its transformations over the past six and a half years, I will be sending a weekly newsletter straight to your inboxes. This newsletter (one of many “novelty” add-ons coming your way) will contain weekly top favorites, for those who don’t get the chance to visit daily (I don’t expect you to, that’s a lot of reading). And plenty of more exciting updates, both about my personal writing updates and more stuff you can apply to your own crazy awesome writing life.

There’s only one thing you need to do to get these updates. You guessed it this time. If you sign up for my weekly newsletter by tomorrow, you’ll receive the first-ever weekly issue, in which you’ll get even more news about what I’m planning. Including the exclusive option for you to guest post and a preview of an upcoming project I will refer to only as “Brain Rush.”

If you want to take any guesses as to what that might be, go ahead. Guess. You might even get it right. And I might even have a special prize for you.

That’s all you get. It’s free. It’s written by me. But it’s not for me or even really about me. It’s still all about you. That’s what I’m here for. If I only did this for me, quite honestly, I would have stopped a long time ago. I have a lot of ideas. All I want is to be able to share them with you, in hopes you’ll be able to get something out of them, too.

Check back in tomorrow for some tips on how to stay healthy during NaNoWriMo, and if you hit that signup button, you’ll be hearing even more from me then, too.

Until then, though – write on!

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

How to Make Sure You’ve Tied Up All Your Story’s Loose Ends


You don’t have to be Type A to write a novel, but it’s definitely an advantage if you happen to be. There are some parts of writing a book, like tying up all the loose ends you’ve left in your plot by accident, that take a little, slightly obsessive organization.

Yes. The series of steps I’m about to show you involves making a chart. IT IS NOT AS SCARY AS YOU THINK.

There is a smart, simple way to make sure you’ve carried out all your sub-plots from beginning to end without leaving any behind. That’s what I’m going to show you today, because I like charts, and this is how I stay sane.

We’ll use part of my story as an example throughout. I reveal a bit of a spoiler here, but it doesn’t give much of the main plot away, so it’s not the end of the world. I don’t expect the book to ever get to the publishing stage (realistically) so if you’re from the future and you’re mad at me about leaking a spoiler, deal with it.

Step 1: On a sheet of paper, make a chart with three columns

You can use Excel or a table in Word or Google Docs too, if you’re not a pen and paper person. Here is how I set up my table (and in case you were wondering, I actually do use this method for all of my stories and it works. I don’t usually do it until I’m a few weeks away from finishing, because it’s very addictive once you start).


Your three columns should be some variation of what I have listed above. Give yourself a column for the conflict, the climax of that particular conflict and its resolution (how you’re going to tie it together).

But before you can list these out, you need a metric—a way you’re going to separate your sub-plots.

Step 2: Choose your metrics and add them to your chart in rows

Which metrics you choose will depend on your story specifically. If your story focuses a lot on different locations, like a sci-fi or fantasy story probably might, you might want to use location as your metric depending on which part of the story corresponds with each location. You could also separate each conflict depending on the character who interacts with it the most.

I have a lot of characters, so I’ve listed out the primary ones. Character development is a big part of my story mainly because it’s a prequel to a five-part novel sequence. My main goal is to introduce the characters that will play major roles later on in the sequence and show the reader where it all started.


Each character has his or own conflict. And throughout the story, as a result of the different events that occur throughout, each character eventually gets to a resolution. Or they should, if I weave pieces of the story together the right way.

Step 3: Write down every conflict, climax and resolution 

Each metric should have a resolution. This is your key to making sure every minor conflict you introduce throughout your story is tied up and secure before you finish. The last thing you want is to leave a plot point just hanging there. It’s much easier, if you have some time, to fix it now than it might be to try and go back and do it later (a strategy, mind you, not applicable during a WriMo).


This does not mean all mysteries or overarching conflicts need to be solved, especially if your story is part of a larger overarching story and not everything can be resolved in just one story. In my story, Lucas’s conflict is part of this book’s specific plot. It doesn’t carry over into later books, not really (not that I know of right now). There is another character that I know of, however, whose minor conflict does not get fully resolved. But it does come to … well, an end.

Let me know if these steps help you out at all. Give it a try next time you’re a little hesitant about whether or not you’ve tied everything together sufficiently. If you have a different method that works for you—tell us about it!

Happy writing!

Images courtesy of Novelty Revisions.