Ready, Set, Go! NaNoWriMo

Rachel Hauck, Susan May Warren, My Book Therapy

Wow, it’s time for National November Writers Month!

Congratulations to those who are participating for the first time. Or the fifth or sixth time!

I’m in. I’ve a deadline February 1 and I need to BIC it. (Butt-in-Chair)

So, what can you do to help your success?

1. Make a plan. What are you going to do with your time? How, when and where are you going to write? Do you need help? Do you need compliance from your spouse, your family, your friends? Work it out!
2. Plan your story. Read this post to get the core basics of planning a story. Not outlining, but planning! It’s very key to use your time wisely and to get some depth to your story.
3. Determination. Just determine this is a go for it month. You will get up early. You will shut off the TV at night. Say “No” to all you can.
4. Get your kids on board. Make them a part of mom/dad’s goal. Give rewards for them helping you achieve your goal. God is a rewarder. Parents should be too.
5. Do not edit. Meaning, do not go back and rewrite or start over. If you change setting, names, from an historical to a contemporary, do NOT go back. Just keep pressing on.
6. Do not be critical. If you have was in every sentence. so what. YOU CAN FIX IT. But get those words on the page.
7. Okay… all that being said, do pause before each session to consider where you’re going. Do pause to try to the best sentence you can.
8. Set a word count. How much do you need to write each day to make 50K. Figure out the days you can’t write and calculate how much you need to get down at each session.
9. Pray. Ask the Lord for wisdom. Daniel 1:17.
10. And Go!! Participate int he challenge. Log your word count. Press on when you’re tired. Do it.

The first part of achieving any dream is taking the first step. You have to write junk to eventually get gold. 🙂 Trust me. I’ve written a lot of junk and ended up with an award-winning or highly reviewed novel.

Above all. Have fun.


RachelCloseUPBest-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She excels in seeing the deeper layers of a story.

With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel. A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 17 novels. She lives in Florida with her husband and dog.

Contact her at: Her latest release is Once Upon A Prince. Go forth and write!

Do you need help with your story idea, synopsis or proposal?How about some one-on-one craft coaching. Check out our menu of services designed to help you advance your writing dreams.

Is Editing Ever A Bad Thing?

Hi Everyone,

I’m back with two of my favorite editors, Beth K. Vogt and Edie Melson!

So Beth (BKV) and Edie (EGM), here is the first question from our readers:

How much change is too much macro editing? Is editing ever a bad thing?

BKV: Yes – absolutely yes. Sometimes we edit our voice right out of a manuscript. We end up with a story that is perfect as far as grammar and spelling and punctuation – and even key elements such as strong Obstacles and Ys in the Road and a compelling Black Moment. But all the edits strangled the voice – what sets a novel apart as your story – right out of the manuscript.

Of course, sometimes you have to edit hard – you have to make bold changes to your work-in-progress (WIP) because you realize a scene was all wrong or that you need to ramp out tension or that something you wrote wasn’t plausible. Sure, you hope to figure this all out when you are plotting your story – but it doesn’t work that way, at least not for me. What about you, Edie?

EGM: I agree completely, a writer can edit a project to death. I’ve found this is particularly true if the writer is part of a critique or craft group. It’s important to remember that our story is simply that, our story. We’re in charge and we don’t have to take every single suggestion offered. The key is balance. Get to a point where you can look objectively at your story and at the suggestions, and decide if they have merit.

BKV: True confession moment: Back in my nonfiction days, I once trampled a writing friend’s voice. I thought I was helping her refine her manuscript, but I stripped her personality right out of the book chapter. I apologized and learned a valuable lesson: If I have to choose between a less-than-perfect piece of writing and protecting the author’s voice, I’ll protect voice every time.

So Edie, what do you think about editing as you go or waiting until you complete that first draft?

EGM: Finish the book before you begin tearing it apart. I’ve written both ways, and I strongly urge writers to finish the first draft before you begin editing. This gives you a much better perspective on where the story is going and you can see the big picture.

BKV: I absolutely agree! I love plotting out my book using The Book Buddy (a work-text written by My Book Therapy founder Susan May Warren) and then fast-drafting it – no editing allowed! (Okay, I might do minor tweaks at the end of the day.) MBT Therapist and best-selling author Rachel Hauck has a great perspective on fast-drafting: It’s all about falling in love with your story. I always find out more about my characters and my plot as I write forward – and I weave all this uncovered information into my story during my rewrites.

EGM: I tend to think of myself as an intuitive writer (as opposed to a plotter). Because of this, in my first two fiction endeavors I let myself get bogged down in my story, rewriting sections and polishing ad nauseam before I even finished the first draft. I came to hate my story before I even finished it, and it was hard to fall back in love.

But, in my most recent manuscripts I’ve followed The Book Buddy and fast-drafting and it has been a much smoother process. Beyond that, it has not interfered with my style of writing.

Beth and Edie, Thank you for answering our questions!  I know many of us are gearing up for ACFW so answering these questions are very timely!

What about you?  Do you edit as you go or wait until you have a complete first draft?

Susie May on Deep POV!

Are you getting ready to write NaNoWriMo and wondering just what POV or voice to write it in?  Try Deep POV!  I love how Deep POV gets a reader into the skin of the characters and helps them feel the story.

Here’s how it works:

Have you ever watched the television show Fear Factor?  It’s a show where people are challenged to do “scary” things like eat a live spider or bungee jump, for charity.  It’s supposed to elicit people’s deepest fears and make them overcome them. I watch it and think, “Never. Not even for charity.”  However, do I feel my throat closing, that panic clenching my gut, my legs telling me to run?  No.  I just think – wow, they are idiots.

Consider, however, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. We watch with our hands over our eyes, our heart in our throats, experiencing true fear.

This is the difference between Standard  3rd person POV and Deep 3rd person POV.  One watches from a distance, the other engages us in the fear.

Why write Deep POV?

A great book is made up of the emotional highs and lows of the POV characters.  We want to feel what the character feels, ride their journey with them and possibly learn with them.  A great story makes us ache with the character, and eventually, engage with their choices, their struggles with values and their epiphany.  Think about this – what is going to glue your reader to the page more – grappling with the black moment/life-changing decisions with the character, or to view it from a distance?  Deep POV is illuminating, empowering, it helps us understand the point of the story.

Think of the difference between Deep POV and Standard Third Person as the difference between watching the action from the outside, as if walking beside the character (Fear Factor) and being inside the body and mind of the character. (Psycho)

Consider a scene written in Standard Third person POV:

The door creaked as Little Red Riding Hood eased the door open. The moonlight fell across her grandmother, asleep in her gown in the overstuffed chair in front of the now dormant fire.  “Grandmother?”

“Over here, child,” the voice said, and it seemed to Red that it contained a rough edge to it.

She tiptoed over.  In the dim light, her grandmother’s hands appeared small and shaggy, her face unkempt even as she kept it away from Red.  Red always thought her grandmother had aged too quickly in recent years.  She feared arriving one day to discover that she had passed away.  Hence, her decision to visit Granny despite the howl of the wind outside.  The chill in the room scurried across her skin.  She needed to start a fire and reminded herself to scold the useless woodcutter she paid to keep Granny’s fire lit.

“I brought you biscuits,” she said and held out her basket.

Grandmother turned and smiled.  The moonlight appeared to glint off her teeth.

Her voice shook, betraying a sudden spurt of fear. “What large teeth you have grandmother…”

In this scene, the narrator is showing and telling us the state of mind of Red Riding Hood, bringing us the story by walking in the room beside Red.

Now, let’s put it into Deep POV. 

The door creaked, the sound raising the fine hairs on her neck as Red eased it open.  The moonlight fell across her grandmother, settling into the folds of her white gown as she slept in the overstuffed chair.  Funny, her hands on the arm rests seemed more gnarled, older than last week. Granny was fading before her eyes.

The fire spit out white ash from the cold hearth.  Where was the woodcutter?  Of course he hadn’t stopped by – probably curled up in some tavern with his fellow loggers, drinking away the five pence she paid him to keep Granny’s fire lit.  Just wait until she hunted him down.

The quiet of the room sifted through her.  Something didn’t feel right, almost sinister. The cold scurried across her skin.

“I brought you biscuits.” She held out the basket.  Why had she arrived so late?  Poor Granny – probably she hadn’t even had dinner.

Then, Granny turned.  Grinned.

Uh… Deep breath.  Don’t run.  Because really, since when did Granny have incisors?

She kept her voice steady even as she reached for the axe.  “What large teeth you have grandmother…”

There are a number of tricks an author can use to pull a reader deeper into the story, but the most useful is to employ the first person test.  Try changing your prose into first person – I, my, me, even we.  This technique puts the author (and reader) right into the skin/mind of the POV character.  It allows everything – all the senses, the dialogue, the thoughts – to flow through the mind of the author/character.  If your character, in first person, would think it, then your character in third person deep POV would also think it.

Deep POV doesn’t work for all genres or stories, so employ it with care.  But if you want to write a powerful story that pulls the reader into the heart of the character, try Deep POV.

Join us for NaNoWriMo/MBTWriMo!  Check it out HERE

Go – write something brilliant!

When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

If all writers did was write, there would be no problem. You’d get up in the morning. Breakfast would somehow be waiting. No need to get the kids off to school. That was taken care of.

Just grab that cuppa Joe, sit down with your characters and create all manner of amazing prose. You wouldn’t have to worry about the phone interrupting your plot because it just wouldn’t ring. After all, you just write.

Oh, and that boss you’re not too happy with? He wouldn’t exist. No social media, no to-do list. Sounds like a writer’s dream doesn’t it?

Well, there are just two tiny problems with that:


1) It ain’t gonna happen.

2) You’d have no life experiences to draw from. What would you write about?

When things don’t go according to plan—and they never do—writers begin to wish for something different. We somehow believe we’d be better off if we just had nothing else tugging at us, we could be best-selling authors.

Can I tell you something? The best books out there today were not written in solitude by authors who had no other obligations or responsibilities, other than sitting down at the modern day typewriter each day and hammer out word count.

The best books are birthed out of the chaos of our day to day lives, in the midst of turmoil, busy schedules, juggling responsibilities and with everyone in their lives making demands on their time.

Writers get panicky when things don’t go according to plan. Whether they write too long and miss a conference call or miss writing time because the kids are sick, it can put the author on a downward spiral very quickly.

Don’t let that happen to you. Know that things will never go according to plan. You a are a writer in a world that is turning. Your life is moving will eventually work out. Don’t sweat it. Enjoy the confusion. Take notes. Use your calamities in your books.

It’s all good.

Do you ever feel like you want to be all alone with nothing to do but write? Share it here!