Sodaro's Stories

November 2, 2016

Grateful for: NaNo

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:42 pm
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About five years ago, I stumbled across the website for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I was intrigued. A novel in a month? 50,000 words is not a “novel” according to¬†Writer’s Digest magazine, but it is a solid first draft. And written in a month? 30 days? 50K in 30D? Interesting.

The first year my attempt was a mess. I went in with no game plan and figured I could easily get the 1667 words a day. I mean I write ALL the time…it’s kind of my deal. I started of getting 2000 words a day and I was thinking I got this. Then I slowed down. Then I slowed down some more until coming to a complete stop at chapter 12. I didn’t have this. What I did have was Writer’s Block and it was as disgusting as every author has ever described it to be.

I’ve never been an “outliner” for my novels thinking they would imprison my creative spirit with their rigid rules and that was something that had happened far too often already (fer people and fewer jobs can handle me at 100% ME). I am grateful to NaNo because it helped me to appreciate the beauty (and surprising flexibility) of an outline. My outlines are written literally in pencil and are not English teacher approved (sorry “Ms. Sodaro”) but they keep me focused on what comes next and what has to happen “here” for “this” to happen “there.”

I am also grateful to NaNo for it’s ability to help me focus. On my best days, I tend to have a rather sporadic attention span span (picture having 45-60 of your favorite television programs and you keep flipping channels to see what interesting things are going on in each one). That is my brain on a pretty daily basis. NaNo helps me have a primary project to focus on…helping me get a project’s first draft done instead of it joining the pile of about 10 projects I have where the first draft is half done.

So yes…I am grateful for the NaNo challenge as it has made my novel writing process more effective and organized, which I now use on non-NaNo projects as well.


June 28, 2016

30 Days of Blogs: Author things — Outlines

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:48 pm
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I really meant to write about this right after I wrote about prompts, but I got distracted. I know…I was shocked too. Me distracted? That hardly ever happens…ooooh…shiny….

I used to scoff at people who used outlines. I didn’t want to be confined to the constraints of an outline. I was a creative spirit. No outline was going to cage me. I would be free to write what I want and hear me roar. Oh sweetie, sit down.

So it turns out having a game plan (even one that is literally written in pencil) is pretty handy to keep the plot moving a long at a steady pace. Knowing where you want your characters to get and what (in general) is happening next, is rather effective…and surprisingly was not at all restrictive or confining as I had feared. So the protests died on my lips as I just picked up my pen and wrote the next scene for the draft.

My outline is not what I made my students do when I taught English. Not that formal, not that scary. I am not writing a five-paragraph essay where every paragraph needs a topic sentence and at least two supporting details. I am writing a novel and that is so much more complex and messy than any essay I have ever written…not to mention the novel trumps the essay in length, breadth, depth, and most other ways we have of “measuring” the writing that gets done.

April 18, 2015

Outlines -how they help; how they could hinder (A-Z blog)

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelle sodaro @ 2:04 am
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Okay, I feel I need to once again apologize to my English teacher friends, but I avoided outlining my novels because of the official outline rules…the Roman numerals and the precise spacing — the concrete rule that you can’t have a 1 without a 2 or an A without a B.
For me, trying to put a creative novel inthat rigid of a structure…well it’s like telling a creative person to try to “act normal and fit in” Sorry but that sounds absolutely dreadful.
This past October,to get readyfor NaNoWriMo, my writing and accountability partner and I both did outlines to keep is motivated…and I fell in love with the idea of the outline…but MY outline. My outline still allows for wiggle room and changes (I consider it written “in pencil” to change as the story progresses…sometimes literally written in pencil). Having this asa guide keeps me from getting stuck. It keeps me focused because I know the fight has to happen around chapter 12 because there has to be a resolution around chapter 15 so the story can get to where it needs to be by halfway.
Outlines keep me on track and make for a stronger story.


This is what my outline looked like for Driven West


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