Showing posts with label writingtips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writingtips. Show all posts

Benefits of Using a Content Planner for Your Novel


 Contributed by Christina Queen

Raise your hand if your writing is unorganized!

Sometimes unorganized writing happens, and that is ok. The good news is you can learn from it, don’t worry, I have a plan.
I began my novel, please don’t judge, a few years ago, and I’m still working on it. The sad part is that I have it finished in my head, but I can’t submit my thoughts.
A couple of months ago, I realized I needed to do something. I needed to create a plan.
During my day job, I am a freelance writer, and of course, like any writer, I contribute to my blog.
I have a content calendar and planning guide to keep me organized and on top of what I need to do.
Which got me thinking.
Why do I not have a content planning calendar for my novel?
After mentally slapping myself, I immediately went to the interwebs and tried to research this. After all, my job is to research, but I found nothing: Nit, rein, zero. I found template after template that I could download for nine different things, such as character profiles, story planners, etc.
This inspired me, the self-proclaimed queen of researching and spreadsheets, to create a spreadsheet for my novel.
And guess what?
I am now two weeks away from finishing my novel.
What the heck did I include in that novel content planner?
1.     Goals
My very first page was to outline my goals. I needed my goals in a place where I could see them daily and hold myself accountable.
There are no unique formulas for this page, so don’t flip out! I only created two columns, one for the title and topic and the other for a short description of my goals.
2.     Weekly Planner
Now what kind of newly founded organized writer would I be if I didn’t have a weekly planner. While this may seem much, the weekly planner holds me accountable for my tasks. For instance, I plan out time for my Mind Mapping, planning ideas for each scene or chapter. I block out specific times for this to feel relaxed and not stressed about finding the time or completing other things.
3.     Story Structure
This tab is a little more detailed. But this is the fun, creative part! Here are the questions I include that help me to put the plot together.
•      A plot point is the worst thing to happen to the story and characters. Your characters’ desires, loves, and fears should drive and dictate your plot.
•      What does your character want the most, and why can’t they have it? What is the external goal of the character?
•      Who/what do they love most? What do they have to lose?
•      What is their fatal character flaw?
•      Ally?
•      What are they afraid of?
•      What is the best thing that could happen to them?
•      Relative to the answers above, what is the worst thing that could happen?
•      Ending
When I mapped out my story like this, I organically discovered the antagonist and enemy. The book practically built itself-ok that may be stretching the truth a little.
4.     Character cheat sheets and backstories.
I love love this part of writing. I love creating backstories and building a character. Having all this in a spreadsheet makes it convenient and helps me see what I need to call upon instantly and not dig through my memory.
The best part of having this spreadsheet “workbook” is the ease of having everything in one place, ready for me to reference.
But the other best reason I feel these spreadsheets are helpful is they give me the organization and efficient time management I desperately needed to get this monster of a novel out.

Christina is the Friends-obsessed creative behind Christina Q Writes. As a full-time freelance writer, she helps clients in need of fantastic content. Christina Q Writes is where she shares tips and advice on freelance writing, blogging, and creative entrepreneurship to help people just like you pursue your dreams of working from home!
LinkedIn: Christina-Queen-Writes


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Writers Conferences - Two Awesome Tips on Why to Attend

By Wanda Luthman

Have you ever attended a Writers Conference?

Every time I see one advertised, I sigh because they cost A LOT of money, plus travel, plus hotel and food. The first one I went to, I knew someone else that was attending and I asked if I could come as their guest just to see what the fuss was all about. She agreed and I was able to attend the first day of the three-day event for a reduced price. (There's your first tip.)

I LOVED it! 

I met wonderful authors who told me fantastic stories about their lives and I heard great speakers. I had caught the conference bug. But, how was I going to be able to afford them?

The answer came in the form of an email. There’s a local group of authors who call themselves Authors for Authors and they put on two book events a year (spring and fall), locally and for a reasonable table price. The spring one had dwindling attendance so I guess the group decided to switch it up and offer a conference instead.

I received their email about a local conference last spring and I didn’t immediately jump on it because the speakers were all people I knew and I thought to myself (not out loud mind you), ‘what can these people teach me?’

I know, I know, that sounds very haughty and I certainly didn’t everything I’m not sure myself why I felt that way other than that bible scripture that says something about a prophet not being recognized as a prophet in their own home town.

Anyway, one of the organizers, Valerie Allen, was persistent and kept asking me to come and I could even have a table to sell my books. Eventually I signed up for both the conference and for a sales table.

Man, was I blown away with the speakers! 

Those local people did know stuff and knew A LOT more than I did and I learned so much. Plus, I sold books! And I was able to network with other authors which is always fun. I had a great time!

So, this year, when the email came around again, I signed up right away but I didn’t get a table. I realized last time that I couldn’t just enjoy visiting while I was manning a table and this year I wanted my freedom to socialize.

The conference was held on Sunday, April 22nd this year and I can tell you it was an equally wonderful experience, if not even better. I absolutely love talking with other authors. We’re a friendly bunch, you know. And we love to help each other out. I learn so much from other people and that means I don’t have to re-create the wheel. I, also, enjoy sharing what tips and tricks I have learned over my 4 years of being a self-published author.

I want to encourage you to attend at least one conference and see if you don’t get the conference-going bug too! And I highly encourage you to check out local ones. (There's your second tip.) At least you won’t have to pay for a hotel or travel. And you just might be surprised, like I was, with the wealth of experience and knowledge in your own backyard.

Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Adjunct Professor, and Hospice Counselor for teens. She’s currently a Guidance Counselor at a local High School. She is an award-winning, best-selling, international author who has self-published 5 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, Little Birdie, and Franky the Finicky Flamingo). She belongs to the National Pen Women Organization in Cape Canaveral; the Florida’s Writers Association; Space Coast Authors; and Brevard Authors Forum. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 22 years and 2 dogs. Her daughter is away at college, like Little Birdie, she has left the nest. To download a free ebook, visit Wanda Luthman’s website at and follow her on Facebook at


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