Catching Openings

With November slowly creeping up–and thus the start of National Novel Writing Month almost upon us–I am getting more and more questions about how to start novels. I have previously touched on what is my standard advice is for rough drafts (namely, find the inciting incident and start somewhere near there. Worry about the exact opening in edits) but for those who still are looking for pointers, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Do: Try to start close to the inciting incident or, to put it another way, “on the day everything changes.” While several scenes of your character going about their life might be helpful for you as a writer, following a character wandering around with no sign of a plot starting isn’t very exciting for the reader.

Don’t: Start a scene and then fall into an info dump. Just as bad as starting too early is coming in close to the inciting incident and then spending pages 2 through 5 telling the reader everything that’s happened in your character’s life leading up to that point (or even just what’s happened the past few days that aren’t “the day everything changes”). Try to draw readers in with something happening in the present before stopping the plot to tell them a bunch of information about characters they don’t yet have any reason to care about.

Do: Start with action. Do your best to find something happening that will interest your reader immediately. This might be dropping into a conversation, your character taking a test that will make or break their schooling, or the beginning of a car crash. If it’s some sort of action that the reader can immediately connect to, you’re in good shape.

Don’t: Begin with your character waking up (or perhaps being chased). Connected to above, while it’s tempting as a natural start point, your character waking up is not a great start to a story–mostly because (unless your character is waking up to someone attacking them or something similar) there isn’t much to draw the reader in. Everyone wakes up in the morning (at least everyone in your reading audience likely does). A character waking up and getting ready for the day is generally mundane. On the opposite side, the first instinct many writers have when they hear “start with action” is to start with the main character being chased by something. Those openings can work if done well, but they can also easily feel overdone as they are so commonly used.

Do: Remember everything can be changed in editing. If you start too early or too late, if you start writing and then realize that that opening scene is rather, well, boring, you can always change it after the fact. For my novel, Raining Embers, coming out in November, I changed the opening twice myself and another time with my editor. Starting in general is more important than starting perfectly. After all, you can’t edit a blank page.


Read an excerpt from Raining Embers–coming November 3, 2015–here

Raining Embers

Where to Start

Happy Halloween, or as it’s known around my house, Happy “Oh god, it’s the day before NaNoWriMo…” Day

For those who don’t know (and possibly have never visited this blog before) NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month” and is a time when writers of all levels come together to try to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

It can be a contested (sometimes loathed) event amongst those in the publishing world (mostly having to do with authors submitting unedited, literally “written in a month” books to agents or publishers December 1st) but for those who use it as motivation, it is a great program. After all, even if you only end up writing 1,000 words over the entire month, it’s 1,000 words you didn’t have in October. NaNoWriMo serves to be the kick in the pants some of us need to put our butts in a chair and start writing.

And, as long as you edit, it’s entirely possible to end up with good stories.


All of the above, and my newest fantasy novel contracted with Red Adept Publishing, were partially (or entirely) written during NaNoWriMo.

Of course, with kickoff just around the corner, I have seen many authors asking how or where they’re supposed to start their novels. And it’s understandable. It tends to be much easier to write when you’re already in the flow of things rather than when you’re staring at a blank page.

Short answer: Start writing with whatever scene comes to you. Yes, openings are very important when it comes to publishing (if you don’t catch an agent/publisher/reader within the first 1000 words or so, your odds of them contracting you drastically drops) but as long as you do go back and edit (several times) before sending a manuscript off, it doesn’t matter. Many people end up cutting their first scene or two once they’ve written the full book because they realize they came in too early. Others end up adding a few scenes because they came in too late. It is actually often times easier to see where you need to start after you’ve ended. As long as you start getting words down on the page, it doesn’t matter what your opening sentence, paragraph, or even scene is.

Long answer: For those who want a little more advice when it comes to picking an opening scene, look to your plot structure. While you will tend to have some exposition at the beginning of novels, you generally want to start as close to the inciting incident as possible. You picked the story you are writing for a reason–hopefully because you find it interesting. Don’t waste time with scenes that aren’t involved in the story you want to tell. So, if your story follows a cop chasing a serial killer, it is perfectly fine to start with your characters finding the first body rather than with your cop waking up and going to work one day. Or even your cop going through the police academy, meeting his/her partner, being promoted to detective, and whatever else happened before your story actually starts. As an author, you will always know more about your character’s background than your reader will likely need to know. If it helps you in your rough draft to info dump some of that backstory right at the beginning of your novel, feel free to. You will just generally find the story flows better once you get rid of that come editing time.

But, hey, that’s what editing is for. Don’t stress it.

Does Length Matter?

As December and the holidays firmly take hold, the authors who did NaNoWriMo tend to either wander off to nurse their wounds and take some well-deserved time off or dive right back into trying to finish their novels (if 50k words wasn’t the end of their story) and/or edit some sense into the words they managed to churn out over the month.

I, personally, am doing my best to finish up the tail end of my NaNoWriMo project and it’s seeming the novel will likely be topping off around 75k words–a little shorter than I was hoping, but respectable all the same.

For you see, though it is called National Novel Writing Month, the 50k word goal of NaNoWriMo often leaves authors in the odd nether-space when it comes to the work they end up with (if authors stop at the 50k word mark). While 50k words is long for a novella, it’s not really considered a novel by many publishers.

Looking at the Wiki article on word count, it is listed there:

Classification Word count
Novel over 40,000 words
Novella 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette 7,500 to 17,500 words
Short story under 7,500 words



So what am I on about? 50k is certainly over 40k words. That makes a 50k word book a novel! When you start looking around at submission guidelines however you start finding things like:

“Preferred word counts are between 75,000 and 120,000.”


“We rarely publish anything under 80,000 words.”

And so, with a 50k word novel, many authors find themselves too short by a third to have many traditional print publisher take their works seriously. And that can feel like a bit of a kick in the teeth.

So what should you do? Try to whittle the story down into a novella? Beef it up into a novel? Well, there are a few things to consider.

1. EDIT.

This should be a no-brainer, but it is undoubtedly a bad idea to take any first draft you have written (especially one written in a month), pop together a query letter, and start sending it out to agents/publishers. It’s a bad idea to even think that your first draft will be exactly what you’ll have once you’ve gone through and edited. Perhaps there are useless scenes you’ve thrown in just to keep writing that you’ll chop lowering the word count over all. Perhaps you’ll realize there was an entire subplot you never fleshed out and add several thousand more words to your novel working that out. Don’t assume 50k is the office length your manuscript will be when you start shopping around. (And please, please, please don’t throw your new NaNo out into the world without edits. Publishers and agents will thank you)

2. Look into standards for your genre.

Yes, many publisher don’t really like to look at things that are under 70k words or so, but there are some genres where 50k is exactly in line with what publishers want (for example, mid-grade fiction and Romance novels). Don’t read this blog post and automatically start beefing up your story because you think you need to. You might have written something in a genre that doesn’t want long stories.

3. Consider your publishing goals.

So you’re writing in a genre that does want something longer than 50k (Fantasy, for example, is notorious for wanting longer manuscripts). Consider if those are the presses you want to go after. Want to go after big-name publishers/agents and fight for that big advance and first run? Conforming to industry standards will definitely make it a little easier for you along a undoubtedly hard trail. Planning on self-publishing, or even going after small/e-presses? You might not have to. Many e-presses quite like shorter books (even some big presses are doing e-imprints now) and small presses aren’t under the same pressure to look for things that only fit with what is out there already. If you’re happy with your manuscript as it is, look for places that won’t punt it because of word count.

4. Consider subplot

So you want to beef up a story but it really seems like your story tapped itself out at 50k. Consider if there are any subplots you want to add. When I first started writing short stories (after starting off as a novelist) I was told the main thing to keep in mind is that short stories tend to follow one or two characters from A to B and that is the end. Novels, on the other hand, have a full range of characters, and don’t have to only tell A to B. A to B can be the most important part of the story, but other things can be happening at the same time. Often there is a romantic subplot in stories (characters are going from A to B, but Male Main Character [MMC] and Female Main Character [FMC] are also falling in love) but there is no reason a subplot couldn’t be something entirely different. The characters are going from A to B, but MMC is also dealing with a severe illness. They’re going from A to B, but FMC is also doing her best to get into a good college. Think about the world around your characters and see if there is something that can be added that builds the story up.

5. Add descriptions/dialogue.

If you’re like me and tend to write large amounts of dialogue, go through your novel and look for places where you can add more description. What does the room they’re sitting in look like? What are your characters seeing? Don’t overdo it, but there should be plenty of places to build up your world while also increasing word count.

Alternatively, if you are primarily a narration writer, look at where you can add dialogue. More than once while editing I have come across something along the lines of “He told them about X” in a narration-heavy piece of writing. If the reader already knows about X, there’s no reason to rehash it, but if it’s the first time it has been mentioned, why not expand it into actual dialogue? Not only will you expand word count, you’ll also move from telling your reader about what’s happening to showing them.

6. DON’T add in meaningless filler.

Adding a subplot does not mean adding “filler” There shouldn’t be scenes that don’t have some purpose (slowing down the main story to show two characters grocery shopping just to add words is not a good idea). Likewise, adding description/dialogue does not mean throwing in walls of text/meaningless dialogue just to make a piece longer. Tolkien may have been able to get away with it, but taking three pages to wax poetic about a tree is a good way to have readers stop reading. And there is only so long readers will read seemingly meaningless dialogue before they put the book down. If your story is tight and flows well as it is, don’t sink it just for word count. Quality is still more important than quantity.


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He said, said he.

As we turn into the third week on NaNoWriMo an interesting question has popped up in one of the forums about dialogue tags. Now, I have previously touched on the subject of why it is not a problem to use “he said” and “she said” rather than trying to find random replacement words. This question, however, asked:

I’m wondering if there is any difference between using ‘she said’ and ‘said she’. I feel like I tend to use ‘she said’, but both sound grammatically correct to me…

First things first, grammatically, yes,both are correct. The reason this forum poster might find they are using “she said” more than “said she”, however, is that “said she” has slowly fallen out of favor in the past 150 years or so:

He said, said he

Going above and beyond for this OP, WriMo doublej compiled this handy graph of the use of he said and said he over the past two centuries. As can be easily seen, “said he” was the more popular form of dialogue tag in the beginning of the 19th century before it started to lose quite handedly to “he said” sometime around the American Civil War. And so, while it is not grammatically incorrect to use “said he” in your writing, it does give a distinctly “old” feel to the prose.

If this is a conscious decision in your writing, go for it. Otherwise, it might be wiser to just stick to the more popular “he said”–especially if that is your first instinct. It doesn’t feel as old, and certain publishers will be less likely to find your writing “antiquated” (seriously, I’ve done editing work for a publisher who’s house guide included replacing any “said he”s with “he said”s in editing to keep the books from sounding, in the words of the editor-in-chief, antiquated).

And so, with that taken care of, get back to writing. November’s not over yet!

Happy NaNoWriMo

It is November, and that means once again it is National Novel Writing Month. Hopefully everyone participating had a productive first weekend of it. I know it is always my goal to get as far ahead as I can before the first week buzz dies down and fatigue sets in (I’ve never run a marathon, but this is totally the same thing, right?)

Still, no matter how far you got (or didn’t) this past weekend, there is no losing until you entirely give up. After all, 50,000 words or 500, you are going to end the month with more down on paper than you started with–and that’s never a bad thing.

And so, since I really should still be writing, I will leave this blog off with this for now. If anyone needs any help going forward with their own NaNo projects, or just something they are working on in general, drop by the NaNo Forums or feel free to contact me. I’m always happy to help.

Happy writing!

(Note: For the month of November, normal blog posts will be decreased to once a week on Mondays rather than my normal Monday/Thursday schedule. If you have a question you still want addressed, please feel free to contact me any of the ways listed on this website. I’ll do my best to fit it in ASAP).

Current NaNoWriMo Stats:

Stats from the NaNoWriMo site as of sign off 11/3/13

The End?

Happy Halloween! And with the last day of October here, midnight means one thing–the start of NaNoWriMo.

Yeah, I’m the second one.

Now, I’ve never done a midnight kickoff party (probably as Halloween hasn’t fallen on a Friday or Saturday since I started participating), but all over the forums tell me there are novelists ready to head out for their first write-in as the clock hits midnight.

What the forums also tell me is that a number of plotters out there are feeling the crunch for figuring out the ending of the novel they’ve spent much of October outlining.

For those who aren’t familiar/haven’t heard me use the term before, NaNoWriMo tends to divide participants into one of two groups: the Plotters (who outline their plot before the start of NaNoWriMo to work off of) and the Pantsers (who “fly by the seat of their pants” and write whatever comes to them at the spur of the moment). Both for November and in general, I tend to be the latter. If I don’t have a good reason to work out some rough outline (namely it’s a part of a series) I tend to start writing whatever comes to me. So far it has served me pretty well.

So why, then, do I feel at all qualified to address the plotters out there about their style? Mostly because, even if you need everything else plotted out, I feel there is some merit in not knowing your ending. If your story doesn’t spring to life with the ending already in place in your mind, there is no need to stare at your outline worrying about how you can’t write until you know if the Main Character (MC) is going to die, if the final game will be won, or really anything that happens after your climax. Once you get to that point, where you’ve been with these characters for thousands of words, figured out the tone of the book, and seen how everything actually fits together–sometimes it suddenly makes sense.

And so, if you are furiously wracking your brain trying to come up with an ending before the stroke of midnight, relax. Sometimes outlines change as you are writing. Sometimes you just need all the pieces before the last one will fall into place. Just certainly don’t feel like you’re going to fail November if you can’t think of an ending right this second. NaNoWriMo is about being a little crazy, so go with the feeling and just start. Who knows, you might be like me and find it more interesting when you don’t know how the story will end before you get there.


To learn more about NaNoWriMo, go to Good luck to all participating! 

Your Character as a Roommate

Put together by WriMo “IAmTheFadingYearbookPen“, an interesting thought experiment that takes character questionnaires to the next level. If you were going to live with your character, what would that be like? Some questions to consider:

Would you trust him/ her to pay their share and on time? Why?

What annoying habits do they have?

Which of your habits would annoy them?

What state is their bedroom in?

What five things would you most probably find in their rubbish bin/ lying on the floor?

What five things would they definitely have in their room?

Are they domestic or domestically challenged?

How much of the time do they actually spend in the flat, or are they out most of the time? 

Do they sleep in or run out of the house already late for the day?

Are you friends with them? Do you get along?

Have you ever had any serious spats?

What has caused them to move out/ on/ into sharing a flat with you?

If you gave them the opportunity to decorate, what colours are likely to be painted everywhere?

                     – any patterns?

                     – objects/ decorations.

                     – posters? 

Would you be horrified if you walked in to this newly decorated flat?

                      – or would they be too lazy to even accept your offer? 

What three items of clothing would most likely be thrown over the back of the kitchen chair?

Do they do their own washing? 

What DVDS on the shelf belong to them?

What books on the shelf belong to them?

What music do they like to play?

Do they play it at inappropriate times/ too loud?

Does it annoy your neighbours?

Would they care if it annoyed your neighbours. 

Do they have guests over often?

Do they ask your permission first, or assume you’re fine with it?

Do they ever bring any trouble to the flat?

How many times, if any, has the police been called to the flat/ has the police came to the flat/ dropped your character off at the flat? 

What trouble would this most likely have to do with?

Do you help them, or give them your notice to move out?

What refrigerator magnets do they own?

What mugs do they own?

Do they bring an income?

What food is theirs?

What food can they not go without buying?

If you kept a pad on the fridge door with things to do on that day, reminders etc, what would your character have most likely written down? Would they bother to write anything down at all?

Do they have any medication/ cosmetic products etc. in the bathroom cupboard? 

Do you think they’ll ever move out? 

Would you keep in contact if they did? 

NaNo Prep

To read my guest blog today about working with a small publisher click here (thank you to Marianne Sciucco for hosting!)

For those looking for help preparing for NaNoWriMo (starting in just over a week) read on.

Anyone who has spent any time around my blog knows that I am a big supporter of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)–both The Bleeding Crowd and soon(ish) to be released The Copper Witch spending at least part of their writing in the whirlwind that is NaNoWriMo.

And with November fast approaching, I, like many others, am once again full swing into NaNo planning. While I tend to be a pantser (someone who “flies by the seat of their pants” while writing) at heart, I at least like to get some world building and characterization started before jumping into NaNoWriMo full-force. Everyone, however, has their own way of preparing (if they do at all) for the literary abandon that comes in November.

Luckily for everyone, there is the twitter hashtag #NaNoPrep which is really heating up as October progresses. So, in the interest of helping all the Wrimos out there, a digest of my favorite #NaNoPrep tips:

– From Kristen Grace (@KayEeeGee) Tips for doing NaNoWriMo while also being a student:
– From Heather Mihok (@HeatherMihok) Some tips for what a Nano Plot might look like 
– From NaNoWriMo itself (@NaNoWriMo) The Adoptable Forum, where you can pick up abandoned characters, setting, and full plots to use/inspire yourself
– From io9 (@io9) Tips for writing an amoral main character: 
– From Mary (@Maryiswriting) tips on things to consider before you start NaNoWriMo: 
– From Matthew Wright (@MJWrightNZ) Some things to think about before starting your novel:

And before we leave off, an awesome tip from veteran WriMo, Skye Fairwin (@SkyeFairwin):

Delete nothing, no matter how bad you think it is. Often what you write during NaNo seems terrible at the time, but when you go back to it a month or two after November, you find it’s actually not that bad at all. Sometimes it’s great!

You can keep up to date on NaNo Prep tips on Twitter your self, or (as always) get writing tips from my blog right here–many of which will be NaNo-based for the next month as I try to knock out yet another 50,000 words this year. Hopefully I didn’t use everything up for Camp NaNo.

Good luck to everyone planning on participating!

[X] Types of Plot

Not too long ago, I touched on the idea of “Accidental Plagiarism” that is, the experience of writing something that seems original and then finding out that there’s something already out there that seems to have stolen the idea straight out of your head. It’s more common than I’m sure any writer would like, but it’s understandable. The more you read, the more you realize that there really seem to be no original ideas out there. That idea of having ancient gods live in the modern world? It might have popped into your head from seemingly nowhere, but if you look into it, American Gods, Gods Behaving Badly, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, mention it to a couple of people and the list of people who have used the same idea goes on and on.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this phenomenon I’ve recently seen comes from this thread in the NaNoWriMo forums (yes, yes, I’m always there, I know). A poster stated:

So, I had this idea pop in my head. Where it came from, I have no idea. The very depths of my brain I guess. Anywho, I saw this scene, and a story fell into place. A world where Death is a man. He knows exactly who is going to die, when, where, why, etc…. If he touches someone, they will die… One day, walking down an alley or street, a door bangs open in front of him and a girl tumbles out… She looks at him, and that’s it, he falls in love. The problem, he can’t touch her or she will die.”

I have no doubt that the idea did pop organically into the poster’s head, but what does that sound like? The forum helped with that:

Family Guy actually does a joke version of that [“Death Lives” for those who care] Death is in love with a pet shop owner, and actually ends up touching and killing her at the end.”

Sort of like “Pushing Daisies.” The guy there can bring people back to life with one touch, but then they die again the next time he touches them. He brings the girl he was in love with back to life, but can’t touch her ever again or she’ll die irreversibly. They have a really cute romance with kissing through plastic wrap and stuff since they can’t touch skin to skin.”

Isn’t that what “Meet Joe Black” was sort of about? I’ve heard the movie described kind of like that.” / “Yup, and “Meet Joe Black” is based off an old black-and-white by the name of “Death Takes a Holliday[sic]“.

Have you ever read “On a Pale Horse?” It’s not exactly the same idea, but it is about the person of Death and he does fall in love.”

It hardly means the original poster shouldn’t write their story, but obviously the idea that popped into her head also popped into a lot of other people’s heads at one point or another. And, as I pointed out in the forum, all stories that use the “can’t touch the thing you love” plot tie even further back to the Ancient Greek King Midas myth. The newer stories might not have the greed factor (turning things into gold) but it is still the idea of a life where touching something will destroy it.

These shared “out of nowhere” ideas are so common that Carl Jung came up with the idea of a Collective Unconscious, which has been described as, “a universal library of human knowledge.” Simply, it’s the idea that there are some ideas so innate in us that the mere fact of being human means it shouldn’t be at all surprising when you have the same ideas as others.

Whether or not you’re willing to subscribe to Jung’s theory, people at least seem to agree that there are certain similarities you can break down all stories we tell into. The Reduced Shakespeare Company, for example, in their performance “Complete Hollywood [Abridged]” says that all movies are one of three general plots:

1. Boy Meets Girl
2. Coming of Age
3. The Jesus Story

They then go on to take examples from the audience and break them down into one of the three (in a very amusing fashion. I got to see them when they were at The Kennedy Center).

Of course, as with any theory, there are plenty of suggestions about the “right” way to break down stories.

Foster-Harris, in The Basic Patterns of Plot also breaks stories into three categories:

1. “Type A, happy ending” (the central character makes an “illogical” sacrifice for the sake of another).
2. “Type B, unhappy ending”(the central character does what seems logically “right” and thus fails to make the needed sacrifice).
3. “Type C, the literary plot” (the central character’s decision doesn’t matter as much as fate [such as often seen in Ancient Greek plays])

Another suggestion is “The Seven Basic Plots”

1. man vs. nature
2. man vs. man
3. man vs. the environment
4. man vs. technology
5. man vs. the supernatural
6. man vs. self
7. man vs. god

Ronald Tobias, in 20 Master Plots, has twenty :

1. Quest
2. Adventure
3. Pursuit
4. Rescue
5. Escape
6. Revenge
7. Riddle
8. Rivalry
9. Underdog
10. Temptation
11. Metamorphosis
12. Transformation
13. Maturation
14. Love
15. Forbidden Love
16. Sacrifice
17. Discovery
18. Wretched Excess
19. Ascension
20. Descension

And, because twenty sometimes isn’t enough, Georges Polti gives us thirty-six in The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations:

1. Supplication (Supplicant must beg something from a Power)
2. Deliverance
3. Crime Pursued by Vengeance
4. Vengeance taken for kindred upon kindred
5. Pursuit
6. Disaster
7. Falling Prey to Cruelty of Misfortune
8. Revolt
9. Daring Enterprise
10. Abduction
11. The Enigma (a temptation or a riddle)
12. Obtaining
13. Enmity of Kinsmen
14. Rivalry of Kinsmen
15. Murderous Adultery
16. Madness
17. Fatal Imprudence
18. Involuntary Crimes of Love
19. Slaying of an Unrecognized Kinsman
20. Self-Sacrificing for an Ideal
21. Self-Sacrifice for Kindred
22. All Sacrificed for Passion
23. Necessity of Sacrificing Loved One(s)
24. Rivalry of Superior and Inferior
25. Adultery
26. Crimes of Love
27. Discovery of the Dishonor of Loved One(s)
28. Obstacles to Love
29. An Enemy Loved
30. Ambition
31. Conflict with a God
32. Mistaken Jealousy
33. Erroneous Judgement
34. Remorse
35. Recovery of a Lost One
36. Loss of Loved One(s)

You can argue about the exact types of plot, or even if it’s possible to classify all plots under any amount of categories, but assuming you can (I believe you could with all my novels/short stories) it really shouldn’t be surprising that true originality seems to be all but impossible. Death falling in love? It could be 15 from the 20 (Forbidden Love) 28 of 36 (Obstacles to Love) 5 of 7 (man vs. the supernatural) or any of the 3 depending on how the author writes the story. And so, once again, it seems that struggling for originality seems futile. Does that mean we should stop trying and write the same story over and over again? Of course not. It just means it’s that much more important to know that it isn’t the plot that will make the story special, it’s how you tell the story.


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NaNoWriMo and Me

Ok, it isn’t November, I’m aware, but there is at least still some life over at the NaNoWriMo Boards (I should know, I’m there pretty much at least once a day.) Even without the furious tapping of all of us NaNoWriMo participants typing away trying to reach 50,000 words by the end of the month, the organizers over at the Office of Letters and Light (OLL) are still hard at work keeping the site up and running until the next year. Something for which I am very grateful.

See, NaNoWriMo might have been one of the things that finally got me to buckle down and actually finish a novel (rather than getting distracted by a bright, new, shiny idea halfway through a manuscript) but it’s perhaps the forums that have been the most important part of NaNoWriMo to me.

The Braintrust that is the NaNoWriMo reference desk has answered more than a few questions for me while writing a story (and I’ve answered my fair share for other writers) because, really, how much Jello would it take to fill a swimming pool? I might not know, but it seems at least one or two WriMos do.

The All Ages Coffeehouse gives us all a spot to talk about writerly things.

Writing 101 answers all those tough grammatical questions for us (is it lay or lie?)

And Marketing and Self-Promotion, of course, gives all us writerly types a place to talk about our outside NaNoWriMo projects.

And those forums are up all year, helping us all even when we aren’t technically NaNoing.

For anyone who has ever wanted to try NaNoWriMo, or who did it this year but only goes to the site in November, I urge you all to come back and drop by the writing community that sticks around all year. (And donate if you’re able to.) We’re a very welcoming group. And I might not need NaNoWriMo to finish a novel anymore, but I fully admit to being a fangirl.