PitMad is Here!

And I am going for it! Courage, I feel, isn’t something I am good at. Realizing I want to be a published author has already been an up and down journey and it has made me find my bravery.

Even if I don’t get one like from an agent I am going to start submitting to them. Just one yes to change my life! How insane is that?!? I know the odds aren’t in my favor to find one quickly but a girl can hope and wish and pray and beg for it to happen!

Good luck to all my fellow authors out there who are participating in PitMad! I’m proud of all of us for trying to live our dream!

Planning a Novel: Setting

One of my favorite and most challenging parts of planning a novel is the setting.

So far I’ve created towns based/influenced by a real location. The current location I am basing my town off of is the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont. I was reading an article…think it was listing the beautiful places you’ve never heard of type of article…and instantly I knew I wanted to base my new novel in this area.

Along with choosing different names and body types I want my settings to be different, in a town that is not used a lot. I’m not sure what it is but lately I’ve been drawn to small town mysteries. Another reason I chose to base my town, Lander, in the Northeast Kingdom is because of the somewhat isolation of the area.

How do you chose your setting? Do you use real life influences or make up your own town?

Planning a Novel: Characters

Once I have a good meaty outline and have conducted some or most of my research I move on to defining my characters. The ones I focus on first are the: protagonist, antagonist, supporting characters and minor characters.

After figuring out the name of any character I focus on their physical descriptions. Along with wanting the names in my novel to be unique/not commonly used, I try to do that with using different physical features.

Protagonist

For the main character I need to create a back story. What has brought them to this moment? What key elements of their life do I need to share?

Antagonist

Simply put…why is this person the villain? Are they just evil? What has caused them to do harm to others? Do they hide under the radar? Treat others differently after the crime has been committed? So many possibilities! So many questions!

Supporting Characters

How do these people become friends of the main character? I like the term support. That is their main purpose in my novel. To support the MC and help them navigate through the story. I firmly believe they are just as important as the MC. Without them telling the story would just not be fun. Like in real life we need family and friends to make life worth living and enjoying.

Minor Characters

These are the people that provide a moment of relief, comfort, or simply a distraction. I love using them in that way. Let’s say the MC is grieving…insert a minor character with a weird flaw that the MC finds funny and can clear their mind and enjoy the simple human interaction.

With any character I try to make them relevant to the story I am telling. I want the reader to care and believe in my characters. I want them to compare or hopefully relate their family/friends to the ones I have created.

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What do you think about when creating your characters? What do you struggle with when creating them?

Planning a Novel : Research

After outlining for my mystery novel I start my research. There are four areas where I mostly conduct my research: Names, Job, Setting and Similar Stories.

Names

I always start with character names when researching. Part of me feels like if I know their names before I start creating them I will know more about them very quickly. I like to pick somewhat different, unique names. I also like to look at their meaning, hoping it will describe the character somehow.

Below are a couple of websites I use for names:
Nameberry
Babynames.com
Sheknows

Job

Then I move onto what my characters do for work. If I don’t know too much about their jobs then I will look up a brief description of their duties. If their job is important to the story then I will dig deeper so I have plenty of references to use.

Right now the main characters are hairstylists, a teacher and of course law enforcement.

Setting

Next I decide where the story will take place. Either in a real city or one I create. So far I’ve only created the cities for my stories. Mostly because I can create every aspect of the town instead of learning every minuscule detail of a real town.

The town where my novel takes place is in the fictional town of Lander, VT located in the Northeast Kingdom. Personally I’ve never been but the pictures are absolutely beautiful. I’m excited at using this location.

Similar Stories

Since this is a mystery novel I’ve been reading more crime novels and researching similar cases. I like to see how other authors set up their characters and how the investigation unfolds. It helps me gauge if my story is flowing smoothly and makes sense.

Do you research? How does it help you? What websites do you use?

Planning a Novel: Outlines

The current novel I am working on is a mystery series. I had actually intended it to be a romance novel but I learned very quickly I am just not capable, at this time anyway, to write in that genre.

Once I figured out I wanted it to be a mystery I needed to plan out what would happen. Ideas, characters flooded my mind. Quickly I decided on the main characters, a short background history, who the victim and murderer were and why the act was committed.

I found myself labeling each section as scenes. Scene 1 I introduce the main character, Scene 2 I introduce her work life, etc. Sometimes a scene is just a couple of sentences, other times it includes very detailed description of events and dialogue.

I firmly believe there is no right or wrong way to plan your outline. Some people know what they want to write and stick to it while I am sure others change their minds daily on what direction they want to go.

For me an outline lets me see what I’ve built, what I need to add, if there are any plot holes and how it’s all going to come together.

Do you outline? How detailed do you get? Do they help you or just add more stress?

Below are a couple of helpful links on creating outlines:

Writers Digest
The Writing Cooperative
The Write Life

Facing Obstacles 

So I’ve realized that I don’t have enough material to finish my novel. *sigh*

The last couple of days have been filled with brainstorming, index cards and lots and lots of editing. *double sigh*

Think my next step is to research crimes similar to the ones that happen in my novel. Thinking it might help me see what steps I might be missing in an investigation or provide inspiration for the narrative.

This is definitely a set back in regards to the timeline I gave myself. I’m trying not to be negative or down about the situation but reminding myself that this is all new to me and that it is important to learn now and grow as a writer so in the future I will have a better grasp of how to complete a novel in a timely manner.

Most importantly I must not give up and keep going forward!

Hope your writing adventure is going well! Let me know of any setbacks you’ve had and how you overcame them! 🙂