Category Archives: links

helpful stuff found on the web, shared here

new files for download

Check out our new page for workshop-related handouts and files!

So far, we have some publishing resources and editing/critiquing advice up, with more to come.

Happy Writing!



Need to know more about our write-a-thon? Keep reading!


November 22nd, 2014

9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Fondulac District Library, Civic Complex

Come write with us! We’ll have donuts and coffee and snacks to get you started and keep you going.

The Civic Complex in East Peoria. It’s adjacent to the library, in the same building. There’s plenty of space and places to plug in your noveling device. Wi-fi is available.

Come and go as you have time! While the library is open, (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), the doors are open and we’d love to have you for as little or as long as you can make it. After 5 p.m., we will move to the Conference Room inside the library, and we’ll finish out the Write-A-Thon lock-in style (participants may leave, but re-entry will not be allowed). Throughout the day, we’ll be hosting friendly word wars (fifteen minute spurts of writing frenzy) and ice-breaker style games to keep your energy levels up.

What about food? There are a ton of places to pick up lunch and dinner near the library in the new and growing Levee District. We also have a sign-up thread going on the official site for people who volunteer to bring easy-to-eat foods and snacks. At lunch and dinner times, we will also organize a meal order, so if you wish to participate please bring some cash and include tip for delivery.

Please join us! We’re keeping track of all the words we write—our word count poster will grow and grow and grow all day.

nanowrimo goodies

In the past, Literature and Latte (creators of Scrivener) have offered NaNoWriMo winners a coupon code for 50% off.

This year, they’re doing the same, but if you want to try Scrivener during NaNoWriMo, they’re offering a free trial (larger than their regular trial) so you can Novel away until December 7th.

I really like this software. To be fair, it’s the only special noveling software I’ve ever tried, but I like it. So if you want to give it a try, now’s a great chance to check it out!

Link to Literature and Latte

prep your story

I am absolutely not going to panic that we have a month and 4 days left before NaNoWriMo. Nope, nope, nope, not gonna do it.

Instead of panicking, I’m going to talk story prep. We’re hosting a workshop on October 12th, but in the meantime, here’s a link I’ve found helpful in planning stories, from The Single Most Powerful Writing Tool (that fits on one page).

There’s a lot of balls for a planner to juggle. But one thing I’ve found is that if I can nail down the first plot point and set my character down the path of emotional growth and give them proper agency, then the rest of it comes together.

A few things to remember about the first plot point:

  • this is the moment your character commits to the story
  • there is no going back
  • it should be the protagonist’s choice, not coerced
  • it should show a shift in the protagonist’s emotions or thinking, for better or worse, a willingness to change or a realization that change must happen
  • the first plot point bridges the gap between part 1 and part 2 (of a 4-part story), in which the character goes from setup to response
  • plan this big moment between 20%-25% into your story

Don’t let first plot points scare you. They can be high-stakes or low-key, from betting the farm to admitting to yourself that yes, maybe the house is actually haunted. Both of these moments require a response–now the the farm is at stake, the wager (and work) begins. Once you admit the house is haunted, you have do something–either prove there are no ghosts, move out, call in a priest, or learn to play nice with your ethereal cohabitants.

In fact, your protagonist might have to do all those things, but first, they have to admit those strange sounds at night aren’t just mice in the wall boards. That’s the power of the first plot point.

candy bar scenes

Holly Lisle has many, many resources for writers. A website of advice, downloads, courses, videos, and a newsletter. Her stuff is great. Fantastic, even.

One of my favorite tools comes from her tips on How to Finish a Novel: candy bar scenes. In planning/writing stages, these are scenes you simply can’t wait to write, the ones where the important story-stuff happens.  Maybe you still haven’t worked out all the details yet, but you know these scenes are the reasons you need to write this particular story.

Her example is ‘hero discovers he has magic’ for fantasy. Looking back, I realize my own candy bar scenes have run the gamut of story types–plot discovery, relationship developments, confrontations,  complete and utter failures, and of course, realization of new magic powers, because what kind of fantasy writer would I be if my protagonists weren’t constantly pushing themselves?

In my Camp NaNo project, I’ve been spinning my wheels for a few days. The problem was essentially this: I didn’t have any candy bar scenes. I had the emotional arc for the hero, a strong antagonist, and a plot. But no idea what the actual scenes should look like.

My solution: concentrate on coming up with candy bar scenes. What events/story stuff can I already clearly visualize?

Answering that generally fills in a whole lot of other plot details, because once I’ve figured out some of these cool moments, I work backwards. Let’s say I want an angel to get her wings. To make that accomplishment have meaning, there’s work to do. I have to build the world–why a junior angel doesn’t start with wings, what she might have to do to get them, and what’s stopping this angel from achieving that. Oh, and why she wants wings in the first place–that might seem like a no-brainer (what angel wouldn’t want wings?) but every character wants what they want for personal reasons. Is it a matter of pride, status, envy, insecurity, proof of competence, or a need to look strong? Or something else entirely?

Candy bar scenes are a great tool in your writer’s toolbox. If you’re stuck planning or troubleshooting your story, give your candy bar scenes some thought.