Tag Archives: hero’s journey

Interview and Contest at The Author’s Journal

The lovely Paula Millhouse interviews me on her blog, The Author’s Journal, about the evolution of the plot-as-you-go romance story blueprint and how this approach to writing can help both plotters and pantsers:


One lucky commenter will win a free copy of The 30 Day Novel Success Journal for Romance, just in time for NaNoWriMo!

New Writing Resources Available on the Downloads Page

For everyone doing JulNoWriMo, if you’d like an easy way to track your word count, I’ve created a Progress Tracker chart (PDF download) that you can use to record your daily word count and total word count.

Progress Tracker for Writing a Novel in 30 Days

For readers of The 30 Day Novel Success Journal, I’ve created worksheets for all the brainstorming questions in PDF.  So if you’re reading the kindle version or listening to the audiobook (or even reading the paperback, but would rather write on a worksheet than in the book)–you can download everything through these links:

Pre-writing Worksheets and Resources (zipped file)

30 Days of Worksheets and Productivity Questions (zipped file)

The pre-writing worksheets contain all the brainstorming questions to help you figure out your plot, setting, and characters.

The resource PDF lists all the writing books and other resources I recommended in the book, in one handy shopping list file.

The 30 days of worksheets are the daily writing prompts that guide you through the story blueprint, to prod your muse into revealing possible directions your story could take next.

If you follow the story prompts, you’ll write a story that fits into three-act structure, follows the hero’s journey, and contains a character growth arc for your protagonist.

The actual blueprint is contained in the book, so if you haven’t read it, you can still use the daily prompts, although it might not be entirely clear why the questions fall in the order that they do. But they will still work.

The productivity questions are intended to be answered each day after your writing session, to give you greater insight into your creative process and help you eliminate the blocks that are slowing you down or stopping you from writing altogether.

Even if you haven’t read the book, you may still find the worksheets useful, and did I mention, it costs you nothing to try them because they’re free?  🙂

(If you want to read The 30 Day Novel Success Journal, you can get it in Paperback, Kindle, or Audiobook.)

Happy writing!


Your Voice Isn’t Lost, You’re Just Ignoring It

You hear it at conferences, in forums and on email lists–writers talking about finding their authentic voice.

Some writers find it quickly.  Others may take years to discover it.

Why so long?

Because when we talk about a writer’s voice, we often don’t really define it as clearly as we should.

Your authentic voice is whatever comes out when you write exactly what you want to write, the way you want to write it. 

Without caring what anyone else is going to think when they read it.

Don’t like that stuff that comes out when you write without editing yourself?  It’s not because you’ve “lost your voice.”  It’s because you think you’re supposed to be someone else.

We all have an image of the perfect person we’re supposed to be.  Smart.  Witty.  Lyrical.  Profound.  Or whatever other qualities we’ve been raised to value in other people.

When someone tells you it took them years to find their authentic voice, they’re really saying one of two things:

  • It took them years to get comfortable with who they really are, or
  • It took them years to transform themselves into the person they wanted to be

Probably some of each.

And good for them.  Either endeavor requires sacrifice, self-awareness, and the courage to grapple with one’s inner demons.  I highly recommend demon-wrestling as a way of making yourself (and your life) better. The unexamined life really isn’t worth living.

But let’s call it what it is.  It has nothing to do with looking under the couch cushions and finding a misplaced ability to write like Kurt Vonnegut or Stephen King or <insert your favorite author here>.

When we write from the heart, we are forced to confront who we really are, right now, in this very moment.  And that person isn’t perfect.

So we have a choice.  We can say, “I must not have found my voice, because I don’t sound funny and poignant and philosophical when I write.”

Or we can say, “Hmmm, it looks like I’m a little sarcastic and kind of abrupt and down-to-earth.  What can I do with that?”

The world doesn’t need us to be clones of our favorite authors.  The world needs us to write honestly and share our real selves on the page–even if we’re sharing ourselves through characters living in a completely made up world.  The world needs fresh blood.  New ways of seeing.  New ways of being.

So…how do we get to a place where we’re writing exactly what we want to write, the way we want to write it?

How do we start sharing our true selves with our readers?

We write fast.

We write so fast that we don’t have time to agonize over the phrasing of any particular sentence.

We write so fast that we don’t have time to stop ourselves from blurting out all those truths that have been festering in our hearts for years.

We write like our story is an out-of-control train about to leap the rails and hurtle over a cliff.

One of the best reasons for writing a first draft fast is that the story comes out in your authentic voice.  Sure, there’ll be some things you’ll have to fix later, to make the story publishable.  But you’ll be starting with a story that speaks your truth, in your authentic voice.

“Writing fast is a lot of work,” you point out.  “I get tired.  Discouraged.  Lost.  Sometimes I don’t finish the draft.”

Yeah.  Me too.

If only there was a group of writers who were doing the same thing, in some sort of massive event where everyone comes together to write like maniacs and encourage each other for a whole month.

Oh, wait a minute, there is!  NaNoWriMo’s little sister, JulNoWriMo–July Novel Writing Month–starts a mere five days from now.  It costs…nothing.  The only obstacle between you and a breathless month of passionate noveling is the sign-up form that gets you into the forums.

Well, that and the courage to let your true self come out to play.

P.S. Don’t forget to go to the Downloads page on this blog and get the free Progress Tracker for Writing a Novel in 30 Days.  Keeping track of your word count helps you stay motivated!

The 30 Day Novel Success Journal

Thinking about participating in JulNoWriMo, but don’t have your story figured out yet?  The story blueprint in The 30 Day Novel Success Journal shows you how to figure out what to write each day using a combination of the hero’s journey, three-act structure, and the character growth arc.  Just follow the brainstorming prompts to figure out what happens next!

Available at Amazon: PaperbackKindle