17 Things I Learned from Writing My First Novel at 17

17 Things I Learned from Writing my First Novel at 17 prettyinprint.blog

Writing a novel has been my dream for as long as I can remember. Ever since I picked up my first Junie B. Jones book in elementary school and fell in love with reading, I knew that writing was what I was meant to do with my life. I knew that I wanted to write something someday that inspired someone else as much as Barbara Parks inspired me.

Sometime a few years later, I made a promise to myself that I would write my own book before I graduated high school. At the time, it seemed so far off, and the books I wanted to write then are much different than the books I want to write now. It seemed like such a lofty goal at that age, and as my deadline started to approach this summer, it still felt so unachievable, especially with half a year left and nothing written.

So over the summer, I started my first novel. Long story short, it was terrible, and nothing actually happened in the 23,000 words I got written, so I abandoned that project for good. I was disappointed by this failure, but I wasn’t that quick to let my younger self down.

I started blogging about a month after my first failure, which introduced me to a whole community of writers who had their own experiences and advice to give, and I learned a lot. Most importantly, I was pulled into the hype of Nanowrimo, something I had tried in the past but never succeeded beyond a few words.

With the support of the blogging community behind me, I committed to writing 50,000 words in thirty days. I went into the month feeling nervous but excited, and I set my writing goal at 2,000 words a day. Overall, the experience was amazing. I had a few days where I wasn’t feeling up to it and I wanted to quit, but I knew that the feeling of finishing would outweigh the inconvenience of taking an hour or two of my day to just write.

And as a result of my persistence, I finished my novel and achieved my lifelong dream five days early, on November 25th. Needless to say, I was so proud of myself to have pushed through any obstacles and go after what I wanted. I kept my promise to my younger self with a month to spare, and I know little Bailey is smiling at me right now from somewhere in the past.

So with all that said, writing a novel at 17 was one of the most pivotal experiences in my life so far, and it taught me so many amazing lessons that I will carry with me as I go into any future projects.



You’ve probably heard this about a million times by now, but I thought it might be nice to start off with this classic cliché. I’ve read this phrase on more blogs and Pinterest graphics than I can count, but those words never really meant anything to me until I began my novel-writing journey. My story sucks. It is really, truly terrible, but one thing I love about this phrase is that it reminds me that it’s okay that it sucks, because there is so much room for improvement and it can only get better from here.


This is a mistake that I am unfortunately very guilty of. I went into my story knowing that it wasn’t going to be the best and that I had plenty of time to go back and edit it later, which allowed me to finish the first draft with less stress. However, when I started editing a few weeks ago, I realized that I may have let myself off the hook a little too much, and now my editing will suffer because of it. It’s okay to turn off your inner editor and just keep getting words on the page, but it’s also important to make sure the quality doesn’t slip too much because of it.


I’m not proud to admit it, but this is my biggest issue in my writing. I try to play it through my head like a mantra as I write, I’ve even considered getting it tattooed in huge letters across my arm, but for some reason this concept just goes right out the window for me when I write longer works, and that makes all the difference between a good novel and one a kindergartener could write. This is never an issue for me when writing short stories, but for whatever reason when the word count is longer my descriptions go downhill, and that’s one thing I will definitely be working on in my next project.


The main goal of Nanowrimo is pretty much just to get words onto the page as fast as you can, and that’s one of the things I love about it, but also one of its downfalls. In some instances, it’s better to just skip over some things (like detailed backstories, poems, or anything else that requires a great deal of time and effort), but sometimes quality should be prioritized higher. In the case of my story, my main character is writing a book of her own, but I mention nothing in the story about what her book is about. I planned on going back and adding that in later, but I realize now that her story could have affected major plot points and ultimately changed the course of the story, so I would have benefited from taking more time here.


Writing a novel always seemed like some far-off thing to me, something that somehow millions of other people managed to do but just wasn’t realistic for me. That mindset seems so crazy to me now, and I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t matter who you are, you are capable of writing a novel. It may seem like an insurmountable task, but once you get started it’s just putting words on a page from your heart. You can do it.


When it comes to writing, I definitely categorize myself as a planner. I even wrote a whole blog post on why I chose to outline my story, but I may have failed to mention one important thing about planning: your plans will change. I had my whole story planned out chapter by chapter when I went into it, but once you start getting to know your characters better you start to realize what would be natural for them to do in certain situations. With my first draft finished, I now have 2+ characters that I wrote nothing about in my outline and a whole list of new plot points, and that’s okay. Planning is great, and I still swear by it, but sometimes the magic of writing is in giving your characters a little room to think for themselves.


This is definitely a big one, and part of the reason I didn’t finish my first novel attempt. If you don’t believe you can do it, or if you don’t believe it will be good enough, you just aren’t going to be able to push yourself to finish. While I was writing, doubts would pop into my head constantly because I knew what I was writing wasn’t the best or even worthy of being read yet, but I forced those thoughts out and pushed myself to finish anyway. Everybody is going to doubt their abilities at one point or another, and that’s okay, but it’s important to remember that it’s a learning process, and nobody is going to be a bestselling author overnight.


This one is a little different from my other tips, but also true. If you think you don’t like coffee or don’t need it to survive your writing, you probably just haven’t found the right kind of coffee (I recommend the Donut Shop k-cups, they changed my whole view on coffee). I waited until the third week of Nanowrimo to discover this and I wish I would’ve known sooner, so don’t make the same mistake as I did. Coffee makes everything easier, no argument.


This is yet another thing I struggle with, mostly in my beginning chapters. I have a tendency to jump right into the story with only a few paragraphs of introduction, and when I read it over later it just sounds rushed and sloppy. I want to make a point to slow things down my next time around, paying attention to character and setting descriptions mixed in with a few back stories. Making sure your reader knows what’s going on and can picture it vividly can be the difference between them reading on and abandoning the book.


Being the perfectionist that I am, I was more than ready to jump into editing and wave my red pen freely over all my imperfections. Unfortunately, it only took about three pages for me to get so discouraged that I decided to put it away for awhile and revisit it later. I thought editing would be much more fun than writing and much less work, but it turned out to just be a big headache that I don’t really want to deal with. My best advice for this (though many people advise against it) is to every so often while you’re writing just go back and reread a few chapters. This can avoid a domino effect that comes from changing one thing early on and therefore having to change everything after it.


In most cases, your first novel isn’t going to be your best work or something that you’re going to want to present to a publisher (I don’t speak for everyone, but this is definitely true for me). Publishing is a daunting process to begin with, and when I decide I’m ready to give it a try I want to go in with something I’m confident in, and something I built from years of experience and plenty of failed novels behind me as a cushion.


This is probably the most common excuse for not writing, but in most cases, it just isn’t true. Again I can’t speak for everyone, but most people can take at least five minutes out of their day to sit down and write. Any little time you put in will add up quickly until one day you have a complete story to hold in your hands. Whether you wake up and hour earlier and write or go to sleep an hour later, there are always little things you can do to work toward your goal.


While it is important to make time for writing, it is just as important to make time for relaxing. If you’re constantly on the go working or going to school or taking care of a family and you use up all your free time writing, you’re going to burn out and you just won’t be happy. Just pace yourself and know your limits and every day you will make yourself a better writer.


My favorite way to take on a big project is to set little goals for myself and put in place rewards for when I meet them. For example, my goal for Nanowrimo was to write 2,000 words a day, and I would come up with rewards for every 10,000 words or so. They don’t have to be big things, it could be as simple as getting an ice cream or taking a break to walk your dog, just as long as it’s something you look forward to that will make you want to write.


Probably the best part of my Nanowrimo experience, and maybe the main reason I made it through it is because of the amazing community that comes along with this challenge. There are so many people going through the same thing you are at the same time, which gives you plenty of people to talk to and to motivate you. Without this blog and the Nanowrimo family to hold me accountable I probably would’ve given up in the first week. If you want to write and it’s not November, don’t worry! You can find like-minded people online or even ask your friends and family to hold you accountable for your word count every day, whatever it takes to keep you motivated!


This is something that absolutely everyone should remember. I would even say print it out and frame it if you think that will remind you because you should never forget that you’re doing something amazing. Writing a novel is hard, and it takes a strong and determined person to push through all the obstacles that come along with it and keep fighting until you’re finished. Don’t be afraid to celebrate, this is a huge win.


Finally, it doesn’t matter how old or young you are, your novel doesn’t know your age. Whether you’re five or ninety-nine, it’s never too late or too early to work hard for what you want. I always kind of thought in the back of my mind that only adults could write books, but I realize now how wrong I was. People of different ages have different stories and experiences to bring to the table that nobody else can. No matter how old you are, your story deserves to be heard.


This post is probably the longest one I have ever written, but it is also one that I have been excited about writing for months now. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to share with you what I’ve learned from my writing, and I hope you can learn something from it too.

I’d love to hear any advice you’ve picked up from your own writing experiences, so please let me know in the comments anything you have to share.

Happy writing,


New Year, New Blog, New Me

New Year, New Blog, New MeBack in November, I was at my peak of productivity, probably in my entire life. In just thirty days, I wrote an entire 51,000-word novel, uploaded nine blog posts to this site, and completed 12 full-length books. I came out of the experience feeling more confident and satisfied with myself and my abilities than I had ever been before, but needless to say, that kind of creative sprinting takes its toll.

I went into December with the bar set high for myself, ready to have another month full of lengthy blog posts and knocking titles off of my TBR, and ended the month with two posts written and no log of how many books I completed. Essentially, I gave up and allowed myself to fall off the radar in terms of this blog.

This was a welcome break for me, and while I am still somewhat new to the blogging world, my experience the first time around was tainted with unrealistic expectations and a foggy vision of what my intentions really were. I started off on the wrong foot, modeling my posts after what I saw on Pinterest and focusing too much on what the reader would think rather than focusing on writing from my heart, and writing what I really knew.

My first few posts were an absolute mess in this aspect: the posts themselves lacked any substance or lesson to be gained, and I spent twice as much time creating endless failed Pinterest graphics for the posts than I did actually writing them. In essence, I came up with posts that I thought people would like to read, but not really topics I had anything to say about.

When I started writing book reviews and writing updates, however, I started to feel more like I was in my element. I knew what I was talking about and I enjoyed it, and the content improved tremendously as a result, but when December rolled around it stopped being enough for me. I started to get the feeling again that I was doing it for everybody else but myself: I was more concerned about scheduling and making sure my posts were perfectly spaced out, even when I knew that my heart wasn’t in it, so I took a few weeks off.

To be completely honest, I had no intentions of returning to this blog when I gave up on it originally. It felt like it just wasn’t for me anymore, and I was willing to just appreciate that I had a good run and move on to my next big project. It wasn’t until recently that I started to change my mindset about why I burned out so quickly.

I love writing fiction, and while I’ve spent most of my life limiting myself to that genre, I found through blogging a new form of getting words out that makes me feel confident and keeps me working toward my goals. The reason I let this blog go in the first place is that, while I love writing and reading with all my heart, those two things just don’t encompass the entirety of who I am. I started to feel like those were the only things that mattered about me, but I’ve come to realize that there is more to my life than that, and I have a lot to share about plenty of other things as well.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to continue with this blog while also continuing to make myself happy is to broaden the scope of my blog’s content, and to write because I have something to say, not because someone is telling me it’s what will make me most successful. This time, it isn’t about the numbers. This time, it’s about writing what I feel and what I think the world deserves to hear, and I believe that will make all the difference in the quality of my posts.

This page will still feature the occasional book review and writing update, but I have other plans in the works as well. I hope to share travel stories, health and fitness tips, school and studying advice, short stories and general musings, and anything else that comes up in my life. From this point on, this blog is about who I am, and I’m excited to find out more about myself in the process.

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope that if you decide to stay and see what new things will be coming to my blog that you enjoy the change as much as I do.



WRITING UPDATE #1: After Nanowrimo

Writing Update One After Nanowrimo


As most of you know, I participated in Nanowrimo for the first time last month and hit 50,000 words on November 25th. My story continued on briefly after that, but while I had projected it would be in the 55,000-60,000 word range for the first draft, it actually ended up being less than 52,000.

So now that my first draft is out of the way, I’m left with the daunting question of what to do next. Do I give myself a break? Do I start editing? Do I try writing something else?

I’ve received a number of comments attempting to help me solve this problem, and the overwhelming response has been that I should wait so that when I return to the story I will be more distant from it and better able to look at it objectively. I was unsure about this at first, but when I caved in this morning and read a few pages I wasn’t completely repulsed by it, so it has definitely not been enough time.

So I’ve decided on option three: I’m going to start a whole new project, and only when I finish the first draft of that will I return to my Nano story. I’m hoping this goes as planned, because I’ve only successfully completed one full-length novel and expecting to finish another one in a short period of time may be a lofty goal.

I’ve already started planning out my new story, but this time I have taken a much different approach. I have always been a firm believer in the use of Google Drive and its automatically-saving, online-accessible wonderfulness, so it feels strange to say that I won’t be using Google Drive at all this time around.

That’s right: I have finally given into the hype of Scrivener.

I’ve always been a little skeptical about Scrivener, even though I’ve only ever heard positive things about it. I probably never would have even tried it out if it weren’t for the 50% off coupon for Nanowrimo winners. I figured that if everyone loves it so much, there must be a reason, and after playing around with the trial version I can see why people swear by it. I’m enjoying the ability to access my plans in the same document as my writing; it makes the process much more efficient, and I have a feeling it will help me to better stay on track.

I’m satisfied with how it’s helping me plan, and I’m even sort of excited about what this new idea might become. I’m not at all the kind of person who comes up with story ideas left and right (or at all, really: I have a decent one like once a year), so I’m crossing my fingers that this one might have potential. It centers around a heavy theme, so I’m going to do my best to pull that off!

I wish everyone the best of luck in all their writing endeavors! Now that Nano is over, I’m going to have to change a lot about my routine, and hopefully this new habit of writing daily will catch on in the long-run!

Happy writing!



Nanowrimo: Reaching 50,000 Words

Nanowrimo Reaching 50,000 Words

Five Nanowrimo blog posts, twelve years of dreaming about writing my own novel, twenty-five long days of reaching my daily word count, and 50,000 words that nobody would ever want to read later, I am officially a Nanowrimo winner.

Just one month ago, I decided on whim to write a blog post about my feelings on Nanowrimo, with no expectation that I would reach 50,000 words or even get to one. I learned about Nanowrimo about three years ago and have always dreamed of the day I would win, but despite my good intentions, I never gave it a try until this year. I always used the excuse that I was too young, or that I didn’t have enough time, or that I wasn’t good enough, but I put all those thoughts aside for the last twenty-five days and did what I never thought was possible: I didn’t give up.

Nanowrimo Winner

I’m still in shock that this day is actually here, but the winner banner is real and very, very beautiful. My story is not quite finished but it is close, and without this challenge I probably never would have started it at all. Right now it’s a complete mess, but it’s less of a complete mess than I expected it would be in the first place, and that in itself is a small victory.

The end of my story is well within view, and I’m happy with how everything came together, even if I did branch off a little from my original outline. In an earlier post I described myself as a planner, but looking back on the month I would say I am definitely more of a plantser, and it worked out well for me. I enjoyed the freedom of new characters introducing themselves by surprise and smaller conflicts cropping up in the middle of something bigger, while still having the structure of an outline and the guarantee that my novel will not reach a dead-end.

I haven’t decided yet whether I will edit this story right away or move on to planning my next project, but one thing I know for sure is that my consistency this month has formed into a new habit, and I don’t plan to take writing out of my daily routine for a long time. I feel this month alone has helped me grow as a writer more than anything else I’ve done before, and I don’t regret participating at all.

Overall, I’m proud of myself for sticking to my goals and working toward something I’ve wanted for so long, and I can’t wait to read my first novel when I’m finally finished. It’s not perfect and I still have plenty of room to grow, but I’m only seventeen and I have my whole life ahead of me to make my writing great, and now I’m confident in my ability to do that.

To anyone else who has reached their 50,000, congratulations! To everyone participating this year, whether you think you’ll make it to the finish line or not, we should all be proud of the hard work we’ve put in this month. And if you aren’t participating and you would like to, why not start now! Even though November is almost over doesn’t mean it’s too late to start something great. You’ll never regret trying.

Thank you all for keeping me motivated and accountable this month, and as always,

Happy writing!


Nanowrimo: Week Three Update

Nanowrimo Week Three Update

It’s the twenty-first day of Nanowrimo, and I’m ashamed to say that it took me until week three to discover coffee.

Coffee is mentioned on pretty much every single page of my WIP so far, but I have never really been much of a coffee drinker, so I had been avoiding this key Nanowrimo staple until finally, last week, I found some that I liked. I now credit all my writing for the past seven days to that coffee. Otherwise, I don’t know if I would have made it through.

This week was probably the best so far in my journey, and it almost feels natural to sit down and write those two thousand words at the point. I would love to keep this habit going even after the month ends, but I know eventually life will get in the way. As of yesterday, my word count stands at 40,390 words, and I’m on schedule to reach my 50,000 by Saturday, which is pretty exciting stuff.

At the beginning of the month, I honestly didn’t think I’d make it this far, and even wrote a whole post about why I wasn’t sure I should participate in the first place. But now that I’m twenty-one days into the month and still meeting my daily goals, I’m pleased with my decision to join. Had I avoided participating because of my worries that I wouldn’t finish, I wouldn’t be here today with 40,390 more words than I had at the beginning of the month.

I’m starting to dread writing less every day, and even though I stress about how horrible my story is about every other minute, I’m starting to enjoy the process of getting it onto the page. My words are starting to feel less forced, and my plot is finally moving along. I’m not sure how long my first draft will be once I’m finished, but I expect it will be between 55,000 and 60,000 words. Even though I plan to finish a few days early, I am still going to try to stay consistent in writing those last few thousand words before the end of November.

My overall feeling for the week is proud. I’m proud that I’ve kept going this far, and I’m excited to see the final outcome when all is said and done. It’s an amazing feeling to watch that blue bar get closer and closer to turning green, and I’m happy that I’m to the point where I’m fully confident in my ability to finish out the month, because the first week I wasn’t so sure I’d make it this far.

If it weren’t for this blog, I probably would have quit the second day, so thank you to anyone who read my previous posts and therefore kept me accountable to finish out the month. Without the pressure of an audience and the support from a community of fellow writers, I never would have made it this far. I hope your story is going well, and I hope you’re excited and prepared for the final stretch. No matter where you are in your story, stay positive, you can do this!

Time to go write those 2,000 words, let me know how your project is going and if you haven’t already, add me as a Nanowrimo buddy!

Happy writing!


FIRECRACKER by David Iserson

IMG_6846“Astrid Krieger lives in a rocket ship prototype in the backyard of her parents’ estate. Her recent expulsion from the elite Bristol Academy has won her a unique punishment: She’ll have to attend public school for the very first time…”

Firecracker was definitely an impulse buy, I’m-at-Half-Price-Books-and-the-cover-is-pretty-so-I-have-to-buy-it type of thing, so I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this story. I was interested by the idea of a comedy about a girl who lives in a rocket ship (a rocket ship which is, unfortunately, rather absent from the story), and I thought it would be something different to try out.

I went into Firecracker with low expectations, and they weren’t surpassed by much. The story was funny, and there were even a few parts that made me laugh, but the overall plot was scattered and seemed to be thrown together at the last minute. This would usually be something that would put me off completely to a book, but I’m going a little easier on this one because it was more of a light-hearted, funny read than something you’re supposed to really get something out of.

Even though this book wasn’t very powerful or life-changing in any way, that’s not to say it didn’t carry a few lessons within it. However, the lessons that are obvious in the text are pretty much as cliché as it gets. For example, spoiled rich girl who believes she is above everyone else thinks, “But maybe I was not the only person in the world who was more complicated than everyone assumes.” (And then, just after, goes back to acting exactly the same as before).

One thing about this story that I thought really stood out was Astrid’s confidence. Sure, she definitely errs more on the side of arrogance, but I still think it’s unique to have a main character who is self-assured and can recognize her good qualities rather than one whose main conflict is not believing she’s beautiful. Astrid may have a stuck-up attitude, but I think readers can learn from her independence and the way that she only has herself, but she has found a way to be happy about that.

Also, this story is unique because Astrid is not looking for love. There are a few boys that care about her, and sometimes she even reciprocates those feelings, but she is not dependent on anyone else for even a minute in the story. She doesn’t need love to be happy, and that is an important quality and one that is not often portrayed in young adult books.

Overall, the story was very enjoyable (though I was hoping for more about the rocket ship…) and I would recommend it as a lighthearted story if you ever need a laugh. It is a very quick read—I finished it in just a few hours without difficulty—and the entertainment value of the story outweighs the parts where it lacks in any real substance. David Iserson did a nice job in creating a funny story for readers to enjoy, and I’m glad I picked this one up.

3 Stars

I’d love to hear what you thought of the book, or what you think I should read next!

Happy reading!



Nanowrimo: Week Two Update

Nanowrimo Week Two Update

Today is day fourteen of Nanowrimo, and I’m pleased to say that I have not yet given up, despite how much I have sometimes wanted to.

My current word count stands at 26,048 words, and keeping up with my trend of 2,000 per day, I should be at 28,000 by tonight. The goal for today is 23,333 so I am still well ahead of schedule and I’m very happy with my progress.

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 1.35.06 PM

For one thing, I reached the halfway point yesterday, so my outlook on the rest of the month has changed a little. It’s nice to see that I have fewer words remaining than I have written, and I’m quickly approaching those 50,000 words! (At this rate, I should be finished on November 25th). On top of that, I beat my own personal best for word count, which was 23,000 in my previous attempt. This week has been stressful, but I’m satisfied that I have been able to stick to my goals and keep working toward the end.

The second week was a little bit better than the first; I wouldn’t describe it as painful like I did in my previous update, but that’s not to say it didn’t come with its own obstacles. On two separate occasions, I found myself not having the opportunity to write until my later at night (and I am a morning person for a very good reason), and both of those times I wanted to skip writing for the day and go to sleep, but I forced myself to stay focused and get those words onto the page first.

While some may argue that it’s okay to take a day off, and that it may not be the best thing for the quality of my writing to write when I’m so tired, I find that I work best when sticking to a continuous goal. For me, that one day off is an excuse to take the next day off, and the next and the next, until my story is abandoned for good, and I don’t want to see that happen. Two thousand words a day has proven to not be as big of a time commitment as I had anticipated, so I’m going to stick to that goal until at least the 25th.

Overall, I am still feeling confident and motivated to finish out the month, and I’m happy I didn’t quit on one of the many occasions I was tempted to. It’s not easy, but I really think it will be worth it to me when I have a rough draft to build on at the end of the month and hopefully form into a real novel. I haven’t lost interest in my story yet, so I’m hoping everything stays on track from here!

Also, thank you to everyone who has left me encouraging comments in these past two weeks, it really helps to keep me accountable when I know there are people who believe I can do this. Thank you so much for the support!

Now time to write my 2,000 words for today…I hope everyone participating is having a great Nanowrimo, whether you’re on track for 50,000 or not. As long as you’re enjoying yourself and working toward your goal, it will be a successful month.

Happy writing!


Nanowrimo: Week One Update

Nanowrimo Week One Update

Today marks the end of the first full week of NaNoWriMo, and I can think of one word to describe my experience so far: painful.

It’s day seven, and my current word count stands at 13,444 (the par for the day is 11,666, so I am a little bit ahead of schedule). I’ve made it my personal goal to go a little above the expected 1,667 words per day and shoot for 2,000 instead, which has been working well for me so far.

However, I feel my creativity is running out: I only have 556 words left to write for today, but I’m using any excuse I can find to avoid writing. I’ve already thought about quitting a few too many times, but so far I am still pushing through. But those 2,000 words are feeling like more and more every day, and where it took me only about an hour to finish for the first couple of days, it now takes me significantly longer.

Obviously, it isn’t an issue of the writing itself, because here I am, probably writing more words than I need for the rest of the day in this blog post. But as far as my story goes, I feel like it is a constant and difficult effort to keep the story on track while also keeping it from becoming boring. 2,000 words isn’t a lot, but it’s starting to feel like it when paired with my lack of inspiration.

That being said, I have no plans to give up. I will be writing those last 556 words for today, and another 2,000 tomorrow and for the rest of November. The idea is daunting and I’m trying not to think about it, but I’m grateful to have this blog to keep me on track and accountable for my progress.

As you may know, this is my first year participating in NaNoWriMo, so I don’t exactly know what to expect from here. Will it get better? (Hopefully!) Will it get worse? (Hopefully not!) Regardless, I feel that the only way to really give this experiment with novel writing the chance it deserves is to see this through until the end, no matter how painful that may be.

As far as my actual story goes, I’m liking this one much more than my previous failed attempt. In my past story, I was writing about things I hardly knew anything about, but with this new story I feel much closer to the plot (the main character is a reader and an amateur writer, much like I am). It’s not perfect, it’s not even good, but I see potential in this story that I didn’t see during my first attempt. With a whole lot of editing, it might even get to the point where I could share it with other humans! (Though I doubt it.)

I should probably get back to writing now (as much as I really don’t want to). I’d love to hear how your project is going, and if you have any advice for a new novelist like myself!

Happy writing!



Nanowrimo: Planning vs Pantsing

Nanowrimo Planning Vs Pantsing

Happy Halloween!

Tomorrow is the first day of Nanowrimo, and I’m already questioning my decision to participate. It’s going to be a lot of work, but hopefully I can push myself through it until the end!

With less than 24 hours until the challenge begins, I want to address one of the big questions when it comes to Nanowrimo, or novel writing in general: are you a planner, or are you a pantser?

If you are a planner, you’re probably finished with your outline already and just waiting to turn it into a story, and if you’re a pantser, you probably have an idea and a whole lot of build-up creativity ready for next month. In just about every aspect of life, I am a planner, and my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month will be no different.

When I started my first novel this summer (and quit at about 25,000 words, realizing it was going nowhere), I went in with a very rough outline, and about a million unresolved plot holes waiting for me. Needless to say, this was a disaster; however, at that time I knew that planning would have stalled the project forever, and if I wanted to get something written I just had to go for it.

This time around, I went with a different strategy and made a detailed outline, and I’m already glad I did. I feel as though I know my characters better, and it was almost like their goals and desires propelled the plot along on its own as I outlined. That’s not to say it’s perfect, there are still a few blaring holes I have yet to fill, but I’m satisfied that this will keep me on track during the next 30 days.

To make my outline, I strayed from my usual paper-and-pencil method and opted for a spreadsheet, which I made using Google Sheets (I use Google Docs for everything, I am horrible at remembering to save files). I made two separate sheets: one for characters and one for the outline.

For the characters, I mixed and matched questions from a few different “character questionnaires” I found online, and answered the questions which I felt were relevent for each character. For my outline, I made a column for each of the following: chapter/scene number, description of scene, time/date, setting, characters involved, subplots relevant, and total word count per scene (to be filled out as I write). I am not completely finished with the outline, but hopefully I can squeeze the rest in tonight before November starts and it’s time to begin writing.

For me, planning is a great way to keep my focus and stay on track with my goals, because it stops my story from reaching a dead-end. I know many people swear by pantsing, and if you are one of them I would love to hear how you keep your ideas organized! Regardless of which category you fall under, I wish you a happy Nanowrimo and the best of luck on whatever project you choose to pursue.

I can’t wait to hear everyone’s Nanowrimo updates throughout the month and I’ll try my best to keep blogging; until then, happy writing!


THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas

THE HATE U GIVE by Angie ThomasStarr Carter is caught between two worlds: Garden Heights, where she grew up, and Williamson, the prestigious private school where her parents send her to protect her from her own community.

Starr learns from a young age to stay quiet around the police, but nothing her dad taught her could prepare her for the night her old friend Khalil becomes a victim of their hate. On their way home from a party they are pulled over, and despite the fact that they were both unarmed and innocent, the officer shoots and kills Khalil while Starr watches from the passenger seat.

The Hate U Give is a beautifully crafted and compelling story that puts the reader in the shoes of this 16-year-old girl as she deals with the aftermath of her friend’s murder. I felt that the conversational tone of the novel helped to form a connection between the reader and the character, and the injustices she endures leave you feeling just as helpless as anyone would in that situation.

The story shines a new light on the already trending issue of racial discrimination in today’s age. We hear stories on the news constantly of police shootings and #blacklivesmatter, but it’s rare for someone outside of the action to really understand the feelings that come along with it.

Starr was the only witness to the events besides the police officers present, and she is caught in the unsavory situation of my-word-against-yours, which clearly puts her at a disadvantage in the trial process. Even after it is discovered that Khalil in fact possessed no weapons when he was shot, the media uses the fact that he allegedly sold drugs to justify his murder.

Starr is overwhelmed with processing with her friend’s death, and in the meantime she is forced to assume a whole different identity at school. She attends a private school called Williamson, surrounded by kids that come from money and live in high-scale neighborhoods that Garden Heights can’t compare with. She feels out of place at school despite her group of friends, and feels the need to censor herself around them to avoid being perceived as “ghetto.”

I found the opinions of her classmates to be very powerful to the meaning of the story, because they only farther outline the helplessness Starr is feeling. She puts up with a few racist comments here and there from her friend Haley, but things start to change when the conversation turns to Khalil and Starr begins to learn how to stand up for herself.

Throughout the course of the novel, Starr makes a transformation from a girl who is taught to keep her mouth shut to a girl who leads a revolution. Overall, The Hate U Give is an empowering and inspiring reading experience, and I believe it is important for people of every background to read this book and understand Thomas’s message in her writing.

5 stars