Reading books? But I was planning on planning!

Okay, men (and women),
This is it. The big one, The one we’ve all been waiting for. has been wiped and reset to 2017. You can log in and create your novel!

You can also Introduce yourself and begin hosting write ins (prep ins?). There’s already several Write Ins set down and on the calendar. And it’s only October 2nd!


So, did you know we have a Goodreads group? I know, reading books is not nearly as enjoyable as actually writing them, but hear us out. Last month, we read Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee, who, guess this, is a local wrimo, who wrote it for NaNoWriMo and got published. FYI, she may show up to an event to say ‘Hi!’.

This month we’re reading Switched by Amanda Hocking. Amanda started out as a self publisher with help from Pronoun, one of those sponsors from HQ (who also sponsored TGIO last year). These days she’s published by Macmillan and she’s coming to our TGIO party to give us some advice on self publishing.

If you haven’t been participating, or didn’t know, it’s not too late to read the books and start chatting about them in the group. It’s entirely possible active group members might get a little… something… at a later date.

9 Weeks until NaNoWriMo continues

Alexis’s NaNo Prep Facebook posts are continuing at high speed. It’s not too late to join her (and officially make the Prep group larger than the regular group…)

And now its really time to prep because before you know it it will be time for…


Kick Off

El Cholo Pasadena
Sunday, October 29th 3-5pm

Per usual, we will have door prizes and a raffle. Hopefully we won’t over do it again (last year no one left empty handed)

The forum RSVP is open here and you can also see the Facebook event here.

Midnight Blast Off

Dupars Pasadena
Tuesday, October 31 (All Hallows Eve) 10pm – Wednesday, November 1st (All Saints Day), 2am

Julie is the one risking her soul to host on the most terrifying of nights (that entire week is actually a bit creepy). Battle your way through the ghouls and goblins to join the first write in of the month. Reward your endeavors with pie (or a burger. that works too).

The forum RSVP will open in about two weeks. The Facebook event is here.

Great Train Escape

The Escape to San Francisco for the Night of Writing Dangerously is still around. Now organized by syaffolee, but Betty will be getting on the train from LA.

Meanwhile Julie and Alexis are planning on bidding them farewell before taking the local trains around for a bit of a Ride in,. I mean write in. It’s listed on the calendar!

Thank God It’s Over (TGIO)

Geeky Teas, Burbank
Sunday, December 3rd, 3-5 pm

Finally, when it’s all over we’ll party in Burbank. There will be some sort of refreshment and there will be Amanda Hocking telling us about self publishing. And probably some prizes because what’s a NaNo LA event without prizes?

Geeky Teas is also the GeeKitties cat rescue, so there are cats on premise, basically on the opposite side of the building from us.

I think that’s everything currently happening. Save the Dates, read some books, prepare your families for your vanishing act next month.


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Characters: It’s Alive!

You’ve got your idea. You’ve done your brainstorming. Now it’s time to find the pieces you need to bring your characters to life!

Characters fall into three categories:

  • the protagonist,
  • the antagonist,
  • and supporting characters.

The Protagonist

The protagonist is generally your main character or characters that are “the stars” of your novel. Most of the time your protagonist will have a mission, goal, journey, or something to overcome.

The Antagonist

The antagonist is the “villain” of your novel. The antagonist can be a physical antagonist that is physically thwarting or causing conflict for your character. The antagonist can also be an “abstract antagonist”, which is an antagonist that is not a living, breathing being, but something abstract like illness, grief, poverty, a society, religion, nature, or a corrupt government or business.

Supporting Characters

The main task of your supporting characters is to support your protagonist throughout the novel towards his goal or on his journey. Supporting characters can be friends, close relatives, love interests, etc. Sometimes supporting character also have their own little subplots which can add to your novel and word count.

How Do You Develop Your Characters Details?

Generally, when you start writing your novel, you have a notion of your characters’ personalities and how they react to certain scenarios. But sometimes you get stumped.

I know I always end up stopping my writing because I haven’t figured out something about my character beforehand. So instead of working on my main novel, I end up staring at a wall wondering if my character likes Lucky Charms or not. To prevent that from happening this year, I am planning to fill out Character Questionnaires or Character Sheets. I see it as a little cheat sheet about your characters.

The Character Questionnaire is probably one of the best way to develop your character without having to write anything in your novel. It is a great list of questions that gets you to start thinking of the tiny details that makes your character unique. Of course, you don’t have to answer every single question. Some of these questions might not even apply to your genre.

Also it is recommended that you make a character sheet for EVERY one of your prominent characters.

This Character Sheet is taken from the High school, YWP Workbook.

Section One:

  1.  Name:
  2.  Age:
  3. Height:
  4. Eye color:
  5. Physical appearance:
  6. Strange or unique physical attributes:
  7. Favorite clothing style/outfit:
  8. Where does he or she live? What is it like there?
  9. Defining gestures/movements i.e., curling his or her lip when he or she speaks, always keeping his or her eyes on the ground, etc.):
  10. Things about his or her appearance he or she would most like to change:
  11. Speaking style (fast, talkative, monotone, etc.):
  12. Pet peeves:
  13. Fondest memory:
  14. Hobbies/interest:
  15. Special skills/abilities:
  16. Insecurities:
  17. Quirks/eccentricities:
  18. Temperament (easygoing, easily angered, etc.):
  19. Negative traits:
  20. Things that upset him or her:
  21. Things that embarrass him or her:
  22. This character is highly opinionated about:
  23. Any phobias?
  24. Things that make him or her happy:
  25. Family (describe):
  26. Deepest, darkest secret:
  27. Reason he or she kept this secret for so long:
  28. Other people’s opinions of this character (What do people like about this character? What do they dislike about this character?):
  29. Favorite bands/songs/type of music:
  30. Favorite movies:
  31. Favorite TV shows:
  32. Favorite books:
  33. Favorite foods:
  34. Favorite sports/sports teams:
  35. Political views:
  36. Religion/philosophy of life:
  37. Physical health:
  38. Dream vacation:
  39. Description of his or her house:
  40. Description of his or her bedroom:
  41. Any pets?
  42. Best thing that has ever happened to this character:
  43. Worst thing that has ever happened to this character:
  44. Superstitions:
  45. Three  words to describe this character:
  46. If a song played every time this character walked into the room, what song would it be?

Section Two: Supporting Character Questions

  1. Relationship to the protagonist:
  2. Favorite thing about the protagonist:
  3. Similarities to protagonist:
  4. Differences from protagonist:

Section Three: Antagonist Question

  1. Why is he or she facing off against the protagonist?
  2. Any likeable traits?
  3. Weaknesses:

Section Four: Abstract Antagonist

  1. What is your abstract antagonist? Is it a disease like cancer, a social ill like poverty, or something larger than life, like grief?
  2. How is this antagonist affecting the protagonist?
  3. Do other characters notice? How does this antagonist affect the other people in your novel?

Warning: Characters are interesting things. Sometimes you can put together your character and bring it to life. But beware! Sometime it will have a mind of its own!

A Storm is Brewing in Your Brain

Now that you have that novel idea, it’s time for the fun part! Brainstorming! Brainstorming is my favorite part of noveling. This is where you get to start developing that “what if” idea.

Brainstorming according to Merriam-Webster is:

 : a group problem-solving technique that involves the spontaneous contribution of ideas from all members of the group; also : the mulling over of ideas by one or more individuals in an attempt to devise or find a solution to a problem

According to that definition, you have a problem that needs to be solved. That problem is your novel, and you’ll solve it with a story. So we’ve got our idea now we need to figure out the Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?


Who are your characters? Characters in a story generally include:

  • protagonist(s)
  • antagonist(s)
  • supporting character(s)

Identifying them is just the basics. The fun part is when you start fleshing out your characters, which I will expand on in my next post.


What is your plot? For every good fiction novel there is a plot or a conflict that your character faces. And what is your character’s goal. Usually this goal is what leads him into this conflict in the first place.

Conflict is the keyword here. Conflict is what drives your characters to do what he needs to do, whether it’s to save the world, drive across the country, or just get out of bed, there needs to be something thwarting them or giving them a challenge.

So remember Conflict!

When and Where?

I am going to combine When and Where because both of these questions deal with setting and location.

“When” is important since if your character has a time deadline to get something done, a time constraint will affect your plot and your character’s action and choices. If you are setting your story in a historical or future time period, this will also affect how your characters will act, dress, and speak.

“Where” is of course very important because a setting can provide more conflict and obstacles for your character as he tries to attain his goals. Also having a clear setting and location helps in developing your character’s background.


Why? Is always the big question. Why would our character do what he does? Why does he want to save to world? Why does he want to drive across the country? Why does he want to get out of bed? Why? Why? Why?!

Asking “why” forces you to dig deeper into your plot, and usually it will lead you to your ending or your character’s ultimate goal.


Now you know “why” your character is doing what he’s doing, but you also need to know how will your character resolve this conflict?

I know figuring out the beginning and end is usually the easiest part, but getting TO the end is the hardest part. I have this problem every year!

However, having an idea on how your character will save the world or finally get out of bed gives you a way to fill that empty space between the beginning and the end of your novel.

Here’s an example of this brainstorm exercise of the 5W + 1H:


Cinderella (Disney Version)


  • Cinderella
  • Lady Tremaine
  • Anastasia Tremaine
  • Drizella Tremaine
  • Fairy Godmother
  • Prince Charming
  • Jacques (Jaq)
  • Octavius (Gus)
  • Lucifer
  • Various Friendly Animals.

I sure I’m missing a bunch of minor characters, but it has been a while since I’ve sat down and watched Cinderella.


  • Cinderella wants to go to the ball, but her wicked stepmother and stepsisters prevent her from going by giving more than necessary chores and destroying her dress.

Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsister cause the conflict for Cinderella, preventing her from going to the ball along with making her life miserable. There is also a minor character story conflict between the mice and the cat.

When? Where?

  • 1800s
  • France
  • Cinderella’s house/garden
  • Prince Charming’s castle

I honestly have no idea where Cinderella is located other than “Fairy-Tale Land”, but I’m taking a wild guess and say France in the 1800s according to how to costumes are drawn.


Why does Cinderella need to go to the ball?

  • Cinderella just wants to get out of the house and go to a fancy ball for once and maybe even dance with the prince.
  • If Cinderella goes to the ball, the prince will see her and fall in love with her, which will cause her to lose her glass slipper. In turn, this results in Prince Charming searching for her with her slipper and eventually their happily ever after ending.


How does Cinderella try to get to the ball?

  • First, Cinderella tries to get all her chores done in time, and her animal friends pull together and make her a pretty dress for the ball, but that gets ruined by her wicked sisters.
  • But Cinderella manages to go to the ball because her fairy godmother makes an appearance and gives her a ballgown.

As you can see this brainstorming exercise is not an outline, facts and information are all over the place. This is just a good way to get your ideas down on paper/screen. I would recommend making an outline after you have most of your details fleshed out.

Unless you’re a pantser (“seat of your pants” pantser and not an actual pantser), then you’d just go with what comes to you!

Now it’s your turn to try it with your novel idea! I find that doing this type of brainstorming eventually helps when I start outlining for my book since a lot of the main ideas are already on paper.