The Road to NaNoWriMo 2018: A Prep Overview

One of the reasons why I disappeared from this blog had to do with the fact that I had spent most of my writing life in September and October working on the storyboard for the next Hideaway Trilogy book, Ten Weeks and Counting (title may change upon notice). While I might not be able to blog every day like I did when I worked on Nine Years Away, there are a few tools that are worth mentioning here in anticipation of the madness that is NaNoWriMo 2018. Here are some of the things keeping me sane between now and November: 

  • Scrivener, but with more functionality. Someone in the NaNoWriMo group on Facebook suggested M.G. Herron’s No Nonsense Novel Template, which was developed for sci-fi writers but has worked for some romance novelists. I downloaded the template, and hoo-boy, did it really change the way I have been outlining. I used the storyboards to compile potential scenes and themes, and the pre-set outline helped me figure out the beats that I needed for every act. (This is especially helpful to me, since there are times when I cram together two conventional story beats in the same chapter.) Once I had my basic storyboard down, I redid the characterization notes that I did with Kim Chance’s character profile sheets by putting them together as cue cards, like so: 

It’s still a lot of trial and error, but at least I can now access my notes without getting lost in a mountain of paperwork. 

  • Books. Right now my shelves are full of romance–but not just any romance, mind you. I’ve given the dirty-talking alpha males a rest in favor of well-intentioned heroes with a heart of gold. There are a few romances that I plan to read for research–The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory and Luck of The Draw by Kate Clayborn, for starters–because they deal with the same tropes that I’ll be working with for this story. And, of course, there’s also #romanceclass, not just for support but also to keep me abreast of what the community’s been up to lately. As for non-fiction, I’ve looked up bits and pieces of The Occupation Thesaurus, plus re-reads of Romancing the Beat and other books about structure. 
  • Movies. I have a love-hate relationship with Netflix Philippines right now, mostly because of their collection of romantic comedies.
    (Looking at you, interrupted re-watch of Pretty Woman--I’m sorry, but the dialogue can’t make up for all the casual sexism, ew ew ew.) It does take a lot of patience and caffeine to sort through the movies that I do want to watch, though, and luckily I still have recommendations from the #romanceclass community for non-Hollywood movies that are worth checking out. We’ll see how this goes. 
  • Coffee?! Yes, I’ve started drinking coffee again, thanks to an adjustment to my medicine. Despite the fact that we now have a Starbucks in this town, I’ve chosen to drink more coffee at home (thanks to an especially bittersweet 3-in-1 barako blend) and at the neighborhood coffee shop (still half the price of what I’d pay at Starbs). Sometimes when I don’t need the buzz I just brew my green tea extra strong, but the mental association I’ve made between coffee and creativity just keeps me going. 

A note: I can’t promise that I’ll be blogging every week during NaNoWriMo, but I will keep you posted on the progress that I’ve been making on the story. Technically my goal is to finish 100 hours’ worth of writing (because I don’t want to pad this manuscript too much) but if I end up writing another 50K story I’ll be in my happy place. See you in November! 

Love, Stella

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Stella Torres

is the author of the adult contemporary romances Save the Cake, Crushingly Close, and Nine Years Away, as well as the short story “Be Creative” in the anthology Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Vol. 1.

In her previous life, she has worked in public relations, taught English as a second language, and even attended graduate school (twice!). She has lived in Indonesia, Honolulu, and Quezon City before moving back to her hometown of Los Banos, a few hours’ drive (with traffic) from the heart of Manila.

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