Let’s Write A Novel #7 How To Deal With A Writing Setback

I’m writing a new novel and blogging through the process so that you can learn along with me.

For those who want to dive right in, if you’re on the email list, you can head over to the google folder and check out the latest updates to the draft.

If you missed the most recent blog post about dealing with unsupportive loved ones, you can check it out here.

 Earlier posts in the series are all gathered here.

There is no weekly update this week because I’ve started hitting a snag in the storyline, and I’m kind of bored with how it’s going. Even though I’m not posting these updates in chronological order, I do have a rough chronology in my head of how it plays out, and I feel like the characters are making emotional growth leaps without my input or without the input of the plot to help them along. That’s great for them, but it makes the story feel inauthentic to me, so I’ve taken a step back to figure out what they really need to learn and to do next.

While I’m doing that, I thought it would make a post about coping with setbacks, because I’m pretty much an expert on that subject.

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Let’s Write A Novel #6: Dealing With Unsupportive Loved Ones

I’m writing a new novel and blogging through the process so that you can learn along with me.


Due to some unforseen circumstances, I’ve decided to limit access to the planning materials in the Google Folder after this week.  You can still head over there to check out the updates today, but in the future, if you want access to my planning and drafting materials, you’ll need to sign up for my email list.

If you missed the last post about using cheat sheets to quickly access and organize your notes, you can check it out here.


 Earlier posts in the series are all gathered here.


This week I want to talk about coping with unsupportive loved ones. I see questions about this come up a lot in writer’s groups, especially from new writers who are struggling to balance commitment to their loved ones with the desire to write.

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Aeon Timeline Software Review


Aeon Timeline is a flexible timeline creation tool meant for writers and other creative thinkers.  I’ve tried a lot of programs for data management and timeline creation over the last 10 years, and Aeon is my favorite. It’s the first tool for writers that I’ve ever found with enough options and flexibility to suit my needs without being overwhelming.  This is a repost of my earlier review.  It will be here temporarily while I reorganize the site, then will move to the writing archive.

When I plan a story, I usually think in terms of overlapping events and character development arcs, or I think in terms of plot arcs where events aren’t always linear. Sometimes my plot arcs span long periods of time, especially if I have characters who lived for hundreds of years. It’s important for me to be able to keep track of what time of year things are happening, how much time is passing, etc. The weather, local holidays, and other factors related to the passage of time will affect how my scenes play out, and if I don’t have those details in place I will get confused and not realize that my characters are wearing shorts but it should be the middle of winter in their scene. Even in stories where the weather and things like that are relevant, it’s usually important to keep track of characters’ ages in relation to one another as time passes and which people are in each scene.toolbox-306888

In the past, I’ve had to use several different tools and do a lot of tedious calculating in order to make sure my details were organized properly and made sense. With Aeon, all I need to do is toggle a few settings and zoom in or out to see what I need. The program gives users the option of creating multiple “arcs” that function as timeline tracks. If you turn on the arc view, you can see the data split up and layered in each track. If you turn it off, you can view the same data as a standard linear timeline, and in both cases, there are content-specific filters you can apply if you want to narrow your focus.

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#Weekend Coffeeshare at the #ROW80 House

weekendcoffeeshareIf we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m participating in several blog challenges and activities this month.

This post is primarily for the #WeekendCoffeeshare linkup hosted by Parttimemonster and #ROW80.  It’s also  part of Blogher’s Writing Lab, #Postaday on WordPress, and BloggingFreedom.org’s 30 Day Challenge.


So now that all my hashtagging is out of the way, I would tell you that I’m super proud of myself because I stuck to my intentions and did not blog in December, even when I was furious about my church’s reaction to the Syrian refugee issues.  And I’ll tell you that Luther said everything I could say right here; go read it if you haven’t.

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#WeekendCoffeeshare Early Edition: In which I am done my #Nanowrimo project! Oops.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that today is Wednesday and I took the day off. I’m hosting an evening coffee get together for other lazy people who took the day off in the middle of the week. Assuming that you’re not one of these lazy people, I’ll check in with you over the weekend, but this will probably be my last coffee share post for a while.

My Nano project was supposed to be a fictional blog written from the perspective of one of my characters, an 8-year-old tree spirit. My goal was to blog through a year of his life. I’ve already hit 50 K, and by the time you read this, I’ll be as done as I can be with the posting schedule for 2016. Part of the reason I was able to do this quickly was that I set it up in Scrivner, and I was able to duplicate monthly folders with explainers for his recurring series and features–like the way on my blog, when I have a series I do a recap/explainer in the beginning of the post — formats for his goal updates, and otherwise streamline the blogging process. I learned a lot about ways I can blog smarter on my own blog, and I’m going to start implementing them in 2016. Stay tuned (or follow) if you’re interested in a blogging productivity series.

— At this point, if we were having coffee, I would warn you that I was about to start rambling about my story, and I would have no hard feelings if you wanted to grab a coffee and some cookies and run for the door. —


If you stayed, I would tell you that Noah has a couple of recurring features. One of them is a Wednesday series where he blogs about the magical and otherworldly elements of his multiverse. I tied that in with the Worldbuilding Wednesday Challenge, so I won’t be able to write those ahead but will be going back to my project file to add them next year. Fridays he shares a list of 5 good things that happened to him during the week–without any intention or prompting on my part; he just decided to do it. Saturdays he shares links, mainly to fun craft projects he’s found during the week. These aren’t things I would post about, personally, and they’re not things I would have pegged him for.

I learned a lot about Noah while doing this project. He’s surprisingly goal oriented and meticulous about the way he approaches personal development. (The fact that he’s 8 and intentional about personal development was a surprise to me as well.) The blog has been focused heavily on his desire to collect thoughts and experiences he can share with family members, because he had a hard time just thinking of conversational topics naturally. So he has a weekly goals post on Monday and a goal update at the end of the week. I seriously wish I was that organized and deliberate about goal setting!

He’s this odd but awesome combination of worldly-wise and innocent; jaded and hopeful; mercenary and yet interested in reaching out to others and brightening their day. I like it, but I wasn’t expecting the openness or desire to connect with strangers.

I have a much better sense of the rhythms of his life, the ebb and flow of activity during different seasons, the variety of interests he has. I’m not sure how well it comes out on the blog since I was going for a mix of narrative and question-and-answer type posts.

keep calm 50k

He wrote that he didn’t want to work on narrative because for him the purpose of journaling is/was to work out what’s on his mind and tell his folks–but then he gave a strong description of some books Mike has on a shelf. I’m wondering if the problem is the way the prompts are arranged. “Tell about X event with as much detail as possible.” It feels like homework and a waste of time for a kid who’s struggling to express his thoughts. It would probably help him more if I looked for things like the books.

I did notice that halfway through his fictional year, his goals shifted from personal development around communicating with his parents to more typical things for a kid his age. I wondered about it for a while, but then I realized that he didn’t seem to be having as much trouble coming up with conversation topics on his own. So, by blogging about it, he’d learned to communicate better and didn’t need to be so intentional anymore. It was interesting to see it happen without my direct (intentional) involvement. He also got bored with the question and answers and moved on to freewriting.

He started making word association lists (he likes word association a lot for some reason…) and then setting a timer and working his way through them as prompts. It’s a cool way to free associate, wish I’d thought of it myself. Seems to be helpful, but then he’ll like decide he’s not expressing what he really wants and can’t figure out how. A lot of the words are food related, and he talks about meal time and his food preferences a lot. I think it’s significant to him that his family eats together and he knows how much effort Ryan puts into meal prep.I’m trying to come up with other types of exercises he might like, but I’m getting burnt out doing it at this speed and need to switch to something else. I don’t think trying to blog through a second year in November would be especially helpful, so I’m declaring myself officially done and I’m going to switch to focusing on a fictional memoir written by one of Noah’s dads in November. (I’ll still make Noah’s blog posts, but probably won’t start posting until January.)

I have done exactly 0 preparation for Mike’s memoir, so should be an interesting November.


In Which I Write Another Spooky Adorable Child


My nano project is a fictional blog from the POV of an 8 year old tree spirit. I did some test posts. His entries are around 300 words. I’ll have to rethink project timeline and structure.
My original idea was to do one entry a day for the month of November, and I can still do that, but honestly I could write all of them in about a week. There’s not much “challenge” in that, and I need a longer body of prose to really dig into the growth arc. Now I’m thinking I might just set a loose goal to blog through a year of his life.

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