Tuesday, July 6, 2010

HIW - Starting a new WIP and tools to get the job done

HOW I WRITE is a blog series where writers of different genres discuss how they go about the business of writing a book. Like snowflakes, writers are unique and we have unique ways to produce our creative product, our books. So walk with us, learn from us, and help us become better writers in the process. Click HERE to visit the other authors in this series!

Starting a new story and tools I use

I was giddy to see this topic! Something I have knowledge on! Is it a problem that at any given time I have 6 WIPs? What can I say, I don't like writer's block. The more pans in the fire the more I can jump around.

I just started a new WIP - a sweet, adult short aimmed for a submission call of 20-25K. Since the story has such defined word count guidelines, I wanted to do things a bit different with this story (isn't there wisdom in the old truth that when we stop learning we die?) So in the spirit of that, I wanted to try something new. For this story I used character graphs *gasp* and I plotted the story from start to end, chapter by chapter. I am very excited to sink my teeth into it because there is zero chance I will run into a wall - I seriously hope I am not going to have to eat these words.

Here's the odd thing: The ending came to me before anything else. I had a vague idea of the story, but was unsure how to make it work. Then out of nowhere, boom, I actually visualized the ending. So I wrote that down in point form in a Word doc. Then I bugged my CPs, my husband, my dog - I'd say even my cats, but nothing bothers them - until the rest of the story fell into place.

I am attaching a copy of a character chart below, but in summary, I think this is a new way for me. I can't foresee any roadblocks or reasons why I can't work through things. I feel I can easily wrap up the story within the 20-25K guidelines. And I think I have a pretty great little story here!

Okay, off I go to write! Good luck everyone! If anyone would like a blank copy of the character chart (the pretty one in Word) send me an email at kendalashby@gmail.com or leave your email in a comment here and I will make sure I send it to you.



Here is the chart I used for the heroine, Amber Sinclair. (it has pretty colours and is divided into boxes, but I am not techincal enough to get it to appear that way here)

Character: Amber Sinclair
Role: Heroine
Height: 5'5"
Hair: Blond
Eyes: Brown
Body Type: Slim
Age during Story: 32
Profession: Runs the animal shelter in small town.
Background/childhood: Normal family life. Parents still together and live in the same small town she grew up in. Her husband left her last year, cheated on her with more than one person from town. She threw herself into the animal shelter and the animals, giving up on love.
Archetype: The Nurturer

Goal (physical need, what they THINK they need) To raise $8,000 to pay back taxes, insurance and repairs on the shelter – otherwise she will have to close it since government funding has dried up.

Motive (emotional need, what they really need) Her entire life is the shelter and the animals. She will be heartbroken and lose the purpose of her life if she can’t raise the money.

External Conflict (physical): The auction is a lot of work and she is determined to make it a success. When Em (bff) suggests they add a bachelor date-off part, she is hesitant but agrees. She is also worried about money, and with old Dr. Morgan retiring as the town vet, she is afraid the ‘new guy’ won’t give her a break on the outstanding vet bill or a discount on future services.

Internal Conflict (emotional): Worried about the attraction she is feeling for the new vet, Dr. Rick Barron. But since he’s so secretive and hot, she is determined to get him in the auction.

Positive Traits: Optimistic (not about love), Determination

Negative Traits:Unrealistic, poor book management, self-sacrificing

Fatal Flaw (Achilles heel, the one thing designed to bring them to a standstill in their present way of being): If she loses the shelter, her world, which has only been holding together since her ex husband left her, will fall apart.

Secret (the lie they tell themselves to get by): Her animals are all that she needs to feel love.

Epiphany: If she opens her heart to Rick, she might find love.


  1. Great post, Kendall. I love your detailed character chart. I'm not good at advanced planning -- I always want to dive right in, and then get discouraged by not knowing what comes next. Good suggestions!

  2. Nice character chart!

    I'm still in awe that you have 6 WIPs at any given time! Wowza!

  3. I've never used a character chart. I may have to give it a try with my next WIP. And definitely keep us updated on your progress with your new story. I love writing out of sequence.

  4. I too am in amazement that you are working on six WIPs right now. Wow! I don't really keep a chart as detailed but I might work on that for the future. Thanks for the post!

  5. I'm not generally a user of character charts, but I like some of the items your covers--I may have to try it.