Thursday, July 3, 2014

Outline Forward...Write Backward

Hi Everyone! Audra here.

I’m hot. Not in a super model way (no snickering!) but, rather in a very I-dislike-94 degree-hot temperature way. I’ve never been a fan of hot weather, except maybe when my kids were young and we spent the day at the lake – back in the days when I dared to wear a swimsuit in public, LOL! Ah the days, but I digress.

So, now it’s the middle of summer, it’s hot outside and…

I’m writing a Christmas novella.

Have you heard? The Seekers are creating two collections of Christmas novellas – one contemporary and one historical. I’ll be contributing to the contemporary collection using secondary characters, RJ Westin and Shayna Leon from my Love Inspired book, Rocky Mountain Hero. RJ and Shayna have a story, just not one long enough to stretch 65-70K words.

A novella! This is so exciting!! And frightening. I’ve never written anything this short and honestly, I had a hard time figuring out how to do it. Went back and reread some of my favorite Christmas novellas trying to find the key to creating a full-bodied, satisfying story using 15-20K words.
I know, I know. Write tight; no sub-plots; it’s all about the romance. That’s fine advice, but a novella, no matter how short, still needs the basic construction and elements of a novel. Every time I sat down to sketch out an idea, my brain couldn’t get past the concept of limited story.

So, I started thumbing through some how-to books on plotting. My favorites are:

From the Inside…Out, Susan May Warren
The Story Within, Alicia Rasley

And my hands down favorite –

Rock Your Plot by Cathy Yardley.

This little indie published gem holds a well-worn spot in my Kindle. There’s something about the way RYP guides you through the plotting process that connects with my mind…which in some cases, is a very dangerous thing! I’ll have to write a post entirely on RYP sometime, but right now, let me share how it took the fear out of writing short and put my brain right back into creating a well-rounded story.

The element I latched on to is Outline. Now, being the pantser that I am, trying to write a scene by scene outline is like trying to organize a bowl of spaghetti. My noodled ideas slip through the cracks and tangle themselves with other possible thoughts, digging me deeper into a book that could possibly rival one of Julie Lessman’s in length.

Definitely not good for a novella.

Rock Your Plot held my hand through the process, refusing to let go when the slippery slide of the pasta trail sought to tug me to the bottom of the glutinous bowl. For the first time in my writing career, the components of creating a plot outline clicked a compatible switch in my simple, little brain! Why did this take so long?

I applaud all of you who figured this out long ago. Wow. I finally stopped looking at a novella as a challenge, and started seeing it as an adventure.

As I said before, a novella is short, but it still has to capture the essence of well-rounded romance. Once I identified all the components of the story, I realized the trick was going to be using my few words to their fullest rather than cutting back on the expected components.

Rock Your Plot has you identify, and write down, the following elements:

Inciting Incident
Plot Point 1
Pinch Point 1
Pinch Point 2
Plot Point 3
Black Moment

I went old school on this. 3x5 index cards. I had just enough room on one side of a card to identify the element, the POV character, the conflict. It’s the conflict that keeps the story going people!! Conflict!! Those of you that know me well are probably laughing right now – I’m the queen of avoiding conflict!! Now keep this little tidbit of information in the front of your mind. I’ve overcome my fear of conflict and I’m going to tell you how I accomplished it…in just a little bit : )

Now, back to outlining. Completing the assignment suggested at the end of each chapter helped me define and refine the direction I loosely planned to follow. As I thought through the assignments, I filled out an outline chart that made me think of the why’s behind every action that led to the next scene.

As I identified each scene, I uncovered some new element about RJ and Shayna or their GMC that made me understand them better. I understood the deeply buried fears within them that they protected at all costs.

By the time I came to the conclusion of the story, I knew RJ and Shayna inside and out. A couple of secondary characters surprised me, too. Ahhh, things are never as they seem, are they??

There it is, pure and simple, I overcame my fear of conflict by recognizing and achieving my HEA. Going through the struggles RJ and Shayna faced – and overcame – step by step – made me see they could get through any obstacle thrown at them. Of course I know the characters in all my books have a HEA, but deep in my gut, I often wonder if they truly will. Anyone else ever wonder that? At least for this Christmas novella, my fears have been slain.

Now I have an outline. A step-by-step guide. My roadmap. I’m ready to go, right? Perspiration beaded on my brow at the thought of writing Chapter One… Isn’t this just the stumper? A blank page. After all the discoveries I’d made and issues I’d resolved, I still didn’t know how to begin the book…so…

I began my book at the end.

Think about it. It makes perfect sense. Having just struggled through an outline, I knew the entire journey of the story. Why in the world should I go back to the beginning and try to write it as if I were a reader opening it up for the first time? I just overcame all the tough stuff; I know the ending the best.

The End became my Chapter One.

I poured all the unlocked emotions into the scene I knew would give them a Happily Ever After … oops, did I need to post Spoiler Alert on that? LOL. Yes, HEA.

Drafting my novella backwards removed the brain freeze I always experience whenever I begin a new project. But you know what else it does? Writing the draft backwards identifies the little details I need to address earlier in the book for that HEA to make sense. I use Scrivener as my novel writing program so it makes it easy to scribble notes in already identified scenes reminding me to hint at the emotion, the fear, the dream – whatever the character is now confronting in their conflict or resolution.

Ha, it’s like seeing where to spackle all the holes before you apply the final coat!!!

Revisit Jane Choate’s excellent post here in Seekerville, Writing Cut and Paste Style with Jane Choate. I guess I’m not the only one who can’t walk a straight line down a yellow brick path. Anyone else?

Let’s talk about how you confront projects outside your writer’s ken. We all face challenges in this business, share how you’ve overcome yours.

I have three digital copies of Rock Your Plot to give away. Let me know if you’d like to be in the drawing!! Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

Second Chance Ranch

Once high school sweethearts, Jennifer and Zac have wounded each other, and the scars run deep. Jennifer is forced to reveal a secret she’s protected for twelve years. Will past mistakes jeopardize the future of both of their dreams or give them a second chance?


  1. Coffee is set to brew.

    Audra, I am so linear I don't think I could ever write the last chapter first and go backward. A time or two in the past I have written a lengthy scene for later in the book, but by the I got to that point in the story I had to rework the scene.

    Do you honestly think Rock Your Plot can teach a very old dog very new tricks??? :)

  2. Hi, Audra!

    How awesome that you tackled this head-on and came out the victor!!! I'm still learning about plot. Guess I always will be. There are so many different methods of looking at it--and describing it.

    One of the slowest-coming things for me to grasp has been Deep POV. But I read a book on it and started trying it out. And practicing helped! At first I wasn't sure what I was doing, then it clicked, and I started seeing Deep POV and/or the lack thereof when I read my previous work. I love Picasso's quote about constantly doing new things in order to learn how to do them. That has defined my writing journey, ha!

    Would love to be entered for Rock Your Plot. :)

  3. Oh! Talking about writing the last scene first...

    The end scene of my novel was one of the first I scrapped before I knew what plot was. It had no point. Whatsoever. It was just a sweet scene between the heroine's mom and dad. BORING and goofy.

    After rewrite #6 or #7, it became clear the scene and setting was perfect for the H/H HEA, considering their backstory. So a few changes here and there, and voila! It's the perfect ending. :) I love recycling scenes.

  4. I'm with Helen, I think I would have a difficult time of it working backwards. I get my outline laid out, also on index cards. I have a board of ideas and scenes I refer to often and add to. But the thought of completely working from end to beginning puts my OCD in a massive uproar! I'm willing to try, though. I'll have to let you know how that turns out! I'd love to check out Rock Your Plot!

  5. Hi Audra:

    I’m a big fan of the little novella. Here’s what I have come to believe. The below might provide some insights not yet covered in the many articles.

    1. start with a great ‘stand up and cheer’ ending. Think of this ‘ending’ as the first chapter. Now all you have to do is write a series of prequels to it.

    2. develop a story-rich situation that has the creative scope to generate many good plot lines. With such a rich initial state a pantser has many good choices to flit and fly in all directions.

    3. make the whole first chapter a hook. The entire first chapter of Mary’s “Spitfire Sweetheart” is a 'rollercoaster-ride' of a hook. (Novella chapters are short so this is possible to accomplish.)

    4. be sure to waste a great novel idea on your novella. A little novel needs to have an idea as big as a full novel. You should feel sorry that you used up such a great story line on just a novella. Aim high.

    5. create a series of interesting events that each advance the story line in unexpected ways. These events will comprise the individual chapters. This series of events make the novella different from a short story of the same word length.

    6. write short chapters that give your story wings. A novella should fly.

    7. set out to accomplish twice as many things per scene as you would in a novel and do it with half the words. A scene can do some of the below listed things:
    Mirror events
    Build a foundation
    Feed in backstory
    Foreshadow events
    Create red herrings
    Reward the reader in dozens of different ways
    Create an anticipatory event
    Resolve an anticipatory event
    Make emotional use of setting
    Develop and show character -- both virtue and flaws
    Demonstrate the writer’s voice
    Use dialogue to tag characters as 3D individuals

    A novel is cologne while a novella is perfume.
    A novella is not less, it is more. Done well, it’s pure essence. : )

  6. I need to try this! And I'm in for the giveaway!

  7. Thank you for sharing Audra. I believe Rock Your Plot is a book I could learn a lot from. Thank you for the chance to win a e-book copy.

    Well said Vince!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  8. Oh, my goodness, Audra, this struck a chord with me!
    I have already read it twice this morning and When I get home from a busy day, I'm reading it again! :-)

    Not sure about writing from the end... but, hey, I'll try anything!

    Would love to win a copy of Rock Your Plot! :-)

  9. Audra, I like the concept of writing backwards.

    By the way, I am looking forward to reading the Seekers novellas

    Please include me in the drawing.

    Have a Happy 4th of July everyone!

  10. This is great Audra. I am planning to do a Christmas novella for NANO this year and need all the pointers I can get.
    I've written endings first before. Depends.

  11. I'm always amazed and inspired by folks who can do this...

    I can see the end, I can see scenes, I know what I want to have happen, but I write totally linear from front to back...

    And this is why it's so much fun to have different styles/authors/ways of doing business...

    Because out of the 13 of us, youse are all gonna find someone who does it your way! And that's huge in a singular business like this.

    AUDRA.... I love me some westerns, girlfriend, and I am LOVIN' COWBOYS these days so readin' an' writin' 'bout this and that makes me smile! We did our virtual retreat last year on an Idaho ranch and I fell in love with the hills, the valleys, the wildlife and the cool peeps that went on retreat with us...

    And Jake, of course!

    My love affair with cowboys rages on! :)

    Helen, I hear ya', but isn't it fascinating to think of turning it inside out like that???? And lots of folks do it!!!

    Go them!

  12. Christmas novella almost done!!!!

    "Longing for a Miracle" oh my stars, I'm making myself all Christmasy and emotional with this sweet story and a John Stamos-type hero, a Greek guy with plenty of money but facing the worst....

    Time stands still at the very worst of times and rushes forward when it shouldn't. That's all I'm sayin'....

  13. I'm also a punster and struggle with straightening things out enough to get an outline. I really appreciated the insights you shared here!

  14. Thanks for the recommendation, Audra! I'll check out that book. You know me. I LOVE how-to books!!

    I keep thinking one will be the ticket to simple writing. HA! I doubt that'll ever happen. :)

  15. Vince, BRILLIANT

    That's all I have to say.

    Now excuse me while I go REWRITE A NOVELLA!!!! :)

  16. Oh, girlfriend, I am SOOOO glad you did this post on novellas because as we both know from your -- ahem -- innocent reference to the length of my books, I SO needed this today!!

    Actually, I need all the help I can get because I'm writing my novella based Charity/Mitch scenes that were deleted to shorten A Love Surrendered. That should give you some clue as to how "short" they are not ... :|

    Boy, am I in truuuuuuuble.

    Will definitely print this post off and every other post on novellas because God knows this CDQ needs 'em. Heck the last novella I wrote ended up being 115,000 words. Sigh.

    Hugs and more hugs,

  17. This is an interesting concept. I only write backwards when I am stuck. Then I find it very useful to write that way. Why waste time. Right?

  18. Morning, everyone! Coffee smells awesome. I brought some Krispy Kreme doughnuts...forget diets today -- I need some sugar!

    I'll be in and out today...hopefully more in than out. It's July and day job has a 10 day County Fair coming up in 4 weeks. I'm working like a maniac!!

    By day, I'm an admin assistant -- by night I'm a novel writer -- trying to mesh the two within the same hour structure can get very dicey : )

    Oh, it's all good...

    OKay, let's talk writing!!!

  19. Helen, I've been writing for over 20 years and found tidbits of info in Rock Your Plot that made me think. I don't think the concept is for everyone, but if it could organize a spaghetti brain like mine, even a tiny bit, its got a permanent space in my Kindle!!

    Very old dog. Silly goose. You've got more energy than I've ever had!!!

  20. Natalie, Deep POV is a bear to grasp! I read Jill Elizabeth Nelson's book on it and found it very helpful. She had a night class in Seekerville a couple of months ago. She's a wonderful POV mentor.

    Picasso is absolutely right. We can't be afraid of trying new things or we'll never learn how to do the things we do...better : )

  21. Hi amymmcnew! Oh man, writing backwards is NOT for everyone!! You have to realize how muddled my first drafts usually are to fully grasp the significance of my learning to outline.

    And in order for my outline to make sense, I need to understand a bit more about why things happen than the average person. I was so full of knowledge by the time I finished my novella outline, I couldn't help but fill in the blanks in the last scene. LOL!

    BTW, I'm ADD, so writing out of order (and Scrivener) is a God send. I can see how it would drive the OCD writer up the wall!!

  22. Natalie, you're too funny. I've written sweet scenes that have absolutely no bearing on the book other than I was in the mood to write it.

    Like you, I save them. Never know where they might come in handy with just a couple of tweaks here and there.

    Sometimes you just gotta write what you gotta write...

  23. My goodness, Vince. You are VERY eloquent this morning!! Can you see the conflict you've created? A short book with all the guts and glory of a single title.

    That's a tall order, but you're right, all those elements have to be there.

    BTW, I love the thought of writing a spectacular ending chapter and then a series of prequels to round out the novel. Brilliant. Now that's a concept my brain can work with!!!

  24. Good morning, Audra! Plotting is the hardest part of writing for me, too. Especially writing on proposal where I have to provide the entire story from Page 1 to the Happily Ever After in synopsis form in advance of writing the book. So I'm always looking for tips and tricks -- I'll have to check out Yardley's book!

  25. Good morning, Cindy W! Rock Your Plot has plenty of hidden aha concepts. And she teaches in a very natural way.

    Well, natural for me, LOL!!!

  26. HI Audra, Always great to get more hints for the novella, especially since I'm in the middle of mine.

    I always outline since I'm so not a pantster. I often start at the back. I read books that way too. I know. Its crazy but I just can't wait for he HEA. I guess I want to be sure its there. LOL

    Can hardly wait to see how our anthology of novellas turns out. This is so much fun.

  27. Mary Hicks, your praise humbles me. I was looking for a topic to make folks think about trying something new. Writing backwards is definitely not for everyone, but I hope Rock Your Plot sparks some ideas : )

  28. Happy 4th, Wilani! Thanks for looking forward to the Seeker collections!! Like I said, writing a Christmas novella during a hot July makes me want to crawl into the book and play in the snow, LOL!!

  29. Thanks Vince. I'm printing that checklist for my revision process.

    You are so correct. It is so much easier to write long. You have to make every word count the shorter it is.

    I discovered this when writing children's books. Good grief, it turned out easier to write a novel than a 500 word children's book. That's how important each word is. And it should be the same in novels. smile

  30. Great idea to write a Christmas novella for NANO, Kaybee!! You go, girlfriend!! November is a find time to break out the music and decorations.

    I was standing in the copier room at work waiting for my printing to complete and found myself humming, Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow...

  31. I am eagerly waiting for both collections. Wishing you whatever you wish a favorite, you rock author!

  32. Ruthy, you are doing some mighty fine cowboy writing these days. Who'da ever thunk you were an East Coast gal with all the creative time you've been spending in Montana??? His Montana Sweetheart coming in August!

    Cowboys, phew!! I gotta turn the speed up on my fan!

  33. Edie, I hear you. It is a struggle, especially when linear thinkers make it look so easy.

    (It's never easy...they just make it LOOK that way)

    I've got to go back to Natalie's quote from Picasso about doing new things because you never know when something will grab you!

    Hang in there.

  34. Missy, I"ve got to thank YOU. You invited Alicia Rasley to Seekerville and that's where I discovered her book The Writer Within.

    Great, great, book.

    Everyone, go check it out!! I've included the link in the post.

  35. Ruthy, doesn't Vince just have a habit of offering all his great suggestions AFTER the book has been written? LOL!


  36. Ruthy, doesn't Vince just have a habit of offering all his great suggestions AFTER the book has been written? LOL!


  37. Audra, I love this idea. I've never even thought of trying something like writing from the end. :) Hmmmm, I'll be thinking on this. As a definite plotter, I usually have a good feel for where my story is going when I start it.

    Where I get stuck is in crafting the perfect ending. Now, if you have tips for that, I'd welcome them! :)

  38. Audra, I am SO glad I stopped. By here this morning. Your recommendation of Rock Your Plot resonated with me. I've always been a pantser/mister, but writing my KIller Voices book for LIS taught me that I CAN write from an outline (even if the outline resembled a rough draft) and that it was way more efficient for me.

    Anyway, I raced off to Amazon to buy it (and I did) but I found something that I needed even more right now -


    Yes!!!! Cathy Yardley is going to help me make sense of this three inch thick binder of first draft pages I've been hiding from.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

  39. RYP sounds like exactly what I need. I would love to win a copy!

  40. "Conflict keeps the story going."

    Amen to that.

    I haven't written a story backward, but I do write scenes unchronologically during a rough draft. Then I go back and arrange them and start the editing process.

    I’m always searching for ways to improve my writing, so please enter me for the drawing.

  41. Audra, I am cringing!!!!!



    Oh, no . . .

    no no no no no!!!!!

    I am going to pretend I never read this post.

    Not that many others won't find it beneficial and perhaps even motivational and extremely instructive!!!

    No, girl, you go ahead and rock that plot on out!!!!

    Now please excuse me while I crawl contentedly back into my pantser hole and never stick my head out again!!!!

  42. Hi Audra,

    I struggle with plot too and am always on the lookout for a book that will click with me. So glad you found one that clicks with you.

    I have the opposite problem of a novella right now. I'm working on Book 2 in my historical series and it involves 2 complete romances, so it's tricky to integrate the scenes!

    I'm trying to learn Scrivener too! I see the benefits of the cork board and the index cards. But I still prefer doing my actual writing in Word.

    Please enter me for the draw! I have your book on my Kindle, but still haven't had the chance to read it yet. Must get into cowboy mode!

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  43. Great post! I keep hearing about Scrivener and meaning to try it out, but somehow I never feel like I have the time. From what I've heard it sounds like it would make writing out of order and staying organized a whole lot easier. Maybe I need to find the time to try it. :)

    Rock Your Plot sounds like a great read. Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!

  44. Julie. I thought I had remembered you saying A Light In The Window was a novella.

    LOL, my friend. I'm still giggling over that one.

    We will write tight;
    We will write short;
    We will write with passion.

    We will write novellas set during Christmas in July!!

  45. Tina, your comment made me think of rocking my car back in forth when I get it stuck in the mud : )

    Get unstuck and get going : )

  46. Glynna, I hope it makes your process easier. Writing on proposal makes goosebumps rise along my arms.

    You may get angsty at times, but you'd never know by the final results in your books!!

  47. Sandra! I read books that way, too!

    Some authors might be mortified because they've invested so much time creating the perfect ending. I'd like to reassure them right now, my peeking at the end in no way diminishes the quality of the story!!

    It's just the way I'm wired : )

  48. Jeanne, I don't really have any tips for the ending. It always somes natually once all my pieces fall into place.

    Anyone else? Any tips on writing the ending??

  49. Mary Curry, good for you!!

    Participating in the Killer Voices took a tremendous amount of courage and preparation. You go, girl!!

    And yes, Cathy Yardley has an entire ROCK series.

    Good, good stuff! Get those revisions done, Mary! You are sooooo close!!

  50. Marcy, I've got you on my list : )

  51. Natalie, how awesome that you were able to use the scene!!

    Audra, I'm not sure I can write the end first. Hmmmm...maybe I should give it a try.

    I'm always up for more craft books so count me in for the giveaway. :)

  52. Bridgett, I too rearrange scenes and write them out of order. Sometimes I just see it and can't (won't) wait to write it.

    I think the way WE write makes more sense than following things step-by-step. LOL!

    I call it spontaneity : )

  53. Myra, LOL. Come out into the sunlight, little panster. We'll both sit in the shade, K?

  54. Interesting concept, Audra! Like Helen, I'm also a linear writer, but I'm not a linear reader, lol. I often read the last few pages of a book before starting chapter one. The idea of harnessing those emotions at the end of the book into the beginning pages has really given me something to mull.

  55. Sue, it took a while for me to let go of Word for novel writing. I love being able to keep my pictures, links, calendars, etc all in one place. I never really have to leave the program if I have a question on research or anything. It's all there.

    If you take Gwen Hernandez's online workshop, she takes you through all the great functions of the program, step-by-step.

    And then it compiles your book in the push of a button.

    PLUS, you never have to save your work, it does it automatically every 2 seconds.

    I love it!

  56. Here I got all carried away with Scrivener when I meant to say thank you for downloading Second Chance Ranch, Sue! Let me know what you think of it!!

  57. Karen, if you write out of the linear process at all, you'll Scrivener. I was perfectly happy with WordPerfect for so many years. Now I cringe at the thought of going back to it.

    Oh wait, I'm writing in Word now.

    I miss WordPerfect. We understood each other.

  58. Audra! First of all, THANK YOU for this post. AND PLEASE put my name in the drawing for Rock Your Plot, and PLEASE do more posts featuring this book!

    My most complete manuscript (thanks to SPEEDBO 2013) was written along a very meandering path. I started with a vague outline, then skipped all over the place--middle to end to beginning to epilogue. I wanted to write the EXCITING parts first. (Which probably means I need to revise the unexciting parts.) It's good to know this wandering around method CAN work!

    I especially LOVED these two bits of advice: "I filled out an outline chart that made me think of the why’s behind every action that led to the next scene." And this: "Writing the draft backwards identifies the little details I need to address earlier in the book for that HEA to make sense." Perfect!

    I'm pleased to know your novella writing became a successful adventure because the two Seekerville collections are TREASURES to anticipate for Christmas! Yay!

  59. Courtney, and everyone else, remember you're writing a rough draft backwards. When you turn around for your final run through, you'll see where things fit and where they don't and where you have holes to fill.

    Got you down for the drawing, Courtney!!

  60. I sort of do this with my WIPs. I write the beginning, then I write the ending. Then, I make them meet in the middle.

    For my one novella, though, I wrote it straight through, then cut 20% of the wording. (I wrote 15k words. The requirement was 12k.) I also listened to Christmas music in the car.

  61. Audra, writing the last scene first makes perfect sense! I can see how this could dislodge many new story ideas. Please enter me for RYP.

  62. Audra, Your analogy is clever and has me hungry for pasta. LOL

    I like the sound of Rock Your Plot. Will have to take a look at the book. Thanks for the recommendation! I love Alisha Rasley's How To The Story Within but external plot is always hard for me so the more plotting books the better. :-)

    I knew conflict gave you hives.
    ;-) But in time you'll find it's fun to vent that bottled up conflict you're avoiding onto your characters.

    I've written one novella and I loved it. Probably because I had a huge desire to give secondary characters from Wanted: A Family their own story.

    I can't imagine writing the ending first, though I do try to outline, usually after I've written the proposal. Normally the first chapter comes easiest for me, then I get stymied. Isn't it funny how different our processes are? And how those processes change?

    Frankly each book I write is a challenge. I love the characters but giving them a story keeps me banging my head against a wall. LOL

    Love Christmas stories and can't wait to read the Seeker novellas!


  63. Julie, I'm chuckling at your 115k novella!! Are you kidding?


  64. Vince, thanks for more input on writing novellas! Excellent points all.


  65. Audra, you're a genius! I just did the same thing (tried outlining for the first time) with my novella and haven't been able to push past the first 2 scenes. I'm gonna give the ending a try and see if it flows better. Please drop my name in the giveaway hat and thanks for sharing!

  66. This is so cool, Audra! On Monday, I turned in my second novella for Barbour (whoohoo!) and I loved every minute (okay, that might be a bit of a stretch), of the process.

    And... I took a break to read Seekerville before I dive into my very first attempt to plot my next novella in SCRIVENER! I bought Scrivener a few months ago, but both projects I just completed were already in progress and I didn't want to reinvent the wheel. Now is the perfect time to experiment! :)

  67. Isn't that CLICK an awesome sound, Natalie? :)

  68. Hi Audra:

    I’ve just spent the morning with you – waiting in the eye doctor’s office -- reading “Second Chance Ranch” -- I’m at 89% and the story just keeps getting better. As my eyes blurred I just kept making the type bigger on my Kindle. The problems keep mounting up. I’m not sure at all how you are going to structure the HEA. I think it will be like “The Bossy Bridegroom” where reality wins out over the adoption problem. Mary faced the same problem you have in this book. If you have not read “Bossy”, I think you would really enjoy it.

    I can’t see well enough yet today to do my school work so I am visiting for now.

    BTW: the legislature never took up the real estate law changes bill. The Governor came in and took an executive action to make the changes go into effect but we have to wait for September for the effective date. This has been the most work creating and most chaotic situation I’ve had to face doing my real estate school in over thirty years. This is keeping me from my “Rewards” book but I am trying to sneak in revisions and current day examples.

    When is your novella scheduled to come out? Novellas go right to the top of my TBR list.

  69. Hi Helen:

    Not to worry. As an elder dog myself, I’ve discovered there are enough old tricks I’ve never learned in the first place to keep me as busy as I can stand.

  70. Audra,

    So looking forward to those Seekers Christmas novellas. I wrote a Christmas novella between last Thanksgiving and Christmas. Can't imagine writing one in July. It'll probably be cold weather again before I start editing it.

    No need to put me in the drawing. Plotting is the one thing I've never had trouble with. Description, how much and when, is my main problem.

  71. Hi Julie:

    I just had a vision of a creative novella situation for Mitch and Charity. They go on a second honeymoon (or a first one if they never had a first one) to the Catskill Mountains to fall in love again. There they see the greatest comedians of all time doing their skits. (It seems all the great comedians played the Catskills.)

    Now amongst all this historic funniness Charity goes into a rage as only Charity can. At a show, Henny Youngman gives one of his famous one-liners. “Take my wife. No, I mean it. Please take her.”

    Mitch laughs at this so loudly that Charity gets even madder at him. She says, for the whole audience to hear, “You think that’s funny? I’ll show you funny”, whereupon she pours a tall sweet drink on Mitch’s head.

    Henny quips, “hey, sweetheart, stow your slapstick shtick until after the show.”

    I can just see the title, “Charity Plays the Catskills”.

    Now here’s the thing: just start out writing a 2,500 word short story. With that goal in mind you should easily arrive at the end by about 20,000 words.

  72. Mull away, Lyndee : ) We all have our own rhythm of writing, but I love hearing new ways to maybe tweak my methods.

    I also realized what my strongest conflict of the book was by starting at the end. The point I thought would need the most resolving, took care of itself about three quarters of the way through. When I realized what the real issue was, I inserted it into the opening scene. Now I hope I won't have a sagging middle.

  73. Hi Ruth:

    If Julie does not like the “Catskills” idea, I think you would be a natural for such a story. “Christmas in the Catskills” – they also called them “The Jewish Alps” back then.

    I’m thinking the 1930’s here. You could use your Yiddish. Why the Catskills are even in your backyard. There are plenty of great years to choose from.

    Just a thought.

    Thanks for the nice words.

    I also like the title, “The Most Happy Novella”. (About Broadway in the 50's.) :)

  74. I think I'm a Scrivener failure.... :(

  75. Sherinda, you are too sweet : )

    You know, writers that embrace the all-over-the-place-writing like we do need to be careful when it comes to well-meaning crit partners. Sometimes CPs don't understand that we are essentially thinking out loud when we ask them to look over our work. They gasp at what I give them and then try to fix it...which completely stalls me out.

    I love critiquing with writers who look at problem areas and make me dig deeper to answer the WHY question. Too often, I've left something unfinished rather than wrong direction.

    The all important concept to me is: WHY.

  76. Exactly, Walt. Write the vivid scenes and color in the rest.


    Wow, a 12K novella. I'm still sweating the 15-20K.

  77. You got it, Donna.

    Backwards keeps me on track. Odd, isn't it?

  78. Hi Sandra:

    I agree about the animal stories. The children stories are not the same kind of writing with just words cut out. The animal tales represent a different kind of writing. It’s a very different kind of mindset. You don’t edit a longer story down to size. You find a way to say the same thing in a far different way.

    I knew you had an amazing economy of words when I first read the stories but I was very surprised to see how few words each story had when I counted all the words in all three animals tales. The rhyming story had just a few hundred words but it still told a full story.

    I’m writing my own version of a young animal who goes around asking “Which animal is the wisest of all”, and the wisest elder of each species says his is the wisest animal species and why that is. All the reasons make perfect sense. The owl is the only one who says he didn’t know and that makes the young seeker realize that the owl was the wisest of them all. But try to do this in a few hundred words! It’s about the hardest writing I ever attempted. In fact, I’m stuck. I have the whole story in front of me and I still can’t do it. I sure hope you come out with more animal tales. I need more great examples.

  79. Oh Janet, conflict AND first chapters give me hives, LOL! I write insanely long opening scenes trying to get a feel for my H/H. So many words left on the cutting floor.

    So sad.

    External plot is hard? Oh man, that's a piece of cake for me. It's the internal conflict that tears me to shreds.

    Let's write a book together sometime. I can do historical. It would be an interesting exercises : )

  80. Anna, I'll bet you have the rest of the Seekers ROFL!! A genius. Me? Wow.

    Thanks for the kind words : )

    Not so much genius as going through the same thing you are over the first two scenes time and again. It gets frustrating and slows the book down tons.

    Maybe I've found a way to manuver past the debris and go straight to the good stuff : )

  81. Yayay, Pammy. Second novella!! WTG!!

    You're gonna love Scrivener. I think it has the certain spreadsheet appeal...

  82. Ahhh, Vince. You warm my heart. I love hearing that you're enjoy Second Chance Ranch.

    Pssst, don't tell anyone...I brainstormed with Ruthy. She's full of ideas...

    I hope your eye appointment went well. I switched from progressive bifocals to single vision a few months ago. I just call the doc for a bifocal prescription again.

    Thought I'd give it a try and now I know better.

  83. Elaine, you have no idea how fortunate you are to grasp the whole plotting thing. I can come up with a good story idea, but dropping in the right elements at the right time...

    Boggles my mind.

  84. Wow! You explained that so well - I loved it! Please enter me in the drawing. I can't wait to read the novellas!

  85. I need to try plotting the way you've suggested, Audra! I keep getting stuck...I'm really excited about the novellas coming out! Can't wait to read them.

    I'd love to be entered in the drawing for one of the copies of "Rock Your Plot."

  86. oh Audra
    if i don't win a copy of Rock Your Plot in the weekend edition, i am SO going to buy it after the fact. i have a sneaky suspicion that my creative brain works a bit like yours - that and the wanting to avoid conflict thing.

    thanks for sharing your process. i think it is so cool to see how different authors accomplish the same basic goal - tell their stories. i am so glad there isn't just THE ONE RIGHT WAY.

    thanks again!

  87. Am I allowed to say if you haven't read Second Chance Ranch, you're missing a very good story?

    I guess I just did :-)

    This is the most interesting writing approach I've heard about in a long time. After a lot of experimenting I found that, for me, it's like Ruthy said, "I can see the end, I can see scenes, I know what I want to have happen, but I write totally linear from front to back..."

    I am so looking forward to the Seeker novella collections! Sending all of the Seekers wishes for a great experience -- so you'll consider more novella collections.

    Thanks for a thought-kindling post, Audra.

    Nancy C

  88. Thanks LTR! Christmas will be here before you know it!

  89. DebH, I'd be in BIG trouble if there was only the one right way, LOL!

    Plotters make it look so easy. It's not. But then, I think my method would make plotters running screaming from the writing process, too, LOL!

  90. Nancy C, you can certainly sing all the praises you'd like for Second Chance Ranch!! My humble heart thanks you : )

  91. A.u.d.r.a, I absolutely loved Second Chance Ranch and like so many others, can't wait for the Seekers Christmas novellas! If any writers need any inspiration during the heat wave of July, Hallmark is running Christmas movies for a week starting tomorrow, gotta make sure everyone gets into winter writing mode ;)

  92. Tracey, you are too sweet. I'm so glad you enjoyed Second Chance Ranch.

    And thanks for the heads up on Hallmark! I love their Christmas movies. I'll get all comfy in front of the swamp cooler with a tall glass of iced tea and an ice cream cone while snow flies around a romantic setting on TV.

    Gotta love it!!!

  93. Audra's a genius and Pam's using Scrivener.....


    But despite the unique ways we approach this job, I brought fresh strawberries dipped in WHITE CHOCOLATE and with sprinkles....

    I love Independence Day!!!!!

  94. Tracey Hagwood, this is only one of the reasons I love you!!!!

    How did you know this????

    I'm all over that Christmas movie idea!!!! :)

    Except that tomorrow I must watch 1776 with William Daniels and Blythe Danner.... I love that movie more than life itself.

    Here's the trailer, this is a family tradition for Blodgetts near and far!!!!

    1776 the musical movie

  95. Ruthy,
    I happened to be channel surfing and came across a movie, The Color of Rain(highly recommend it-based on a true story of widow/widower who befriend each other during commiseration of loss) Hallmark was already advertising Christmas, and in July, just what we need to cool us all off! 94 degrees here in Va. and humid as all get out. I'll be joining Audra in front of the swamp cooler with an ice cream cone!

    After watching your 1776(looks vaguely familiar but I was 16 when it came out so I probably had other things on my mind at the time) you'll still have the rest of the week to watch it snow and take sleigh rides and such. I'm just protecting my future Christmas novella reading by help everyone get in the mood! :)

  96. Tracey, your generosity knows no bounds! Thank for the delightful "cool-off" announcement...and of course the opportunity to sit back for hours and watch movies featuring candy canes and sugar plums!!!

  97. Ruthy, I used Scrivener for about 45 minutes. The tutorial was confusing.... too MUCH info.

    I'll go back to it and play, but it's going to take me a while to figure out where things go.

  98. Loved this, Audra - - and thanks for telling us about Rock Your Plot - - sounds VERY helpful.

    Even though I've never written from the end and gone backwards, it does make sense. Just wondering if I'd get too confused (okay, MORE confused than I am in my usual state, LOL).
    But it might be worth a try---it's exciting to find a different approach that really works!
    Hugs, Patti Jo

    p.s. I can identify with the HOT weather - - we've been having our usual July heat/humidity - - however our local weather report this evening said LOW humidity for the 4th of July - - YIPPEE!!

  99. Pam, the Scrivener tutorial is confusing. Check out Gwen's site instead

  100. Dear Audra, Thanks for the post. I've never thought of it as writing backwards, but sometimes when I exercise, I think of how I want to write certain scenes no matter where the scene goes in the book. In other words, there are some times where I've formed the details for the end scene while I'm still working on other parts of the book while I'm walking on a treadmill. Thanks for your post.

  101. Patti Jo, I don't know what I'd do if we had any amount of humidity! The 25-30% we have is killing me : )

    Enjoy your 4th!

  102. Tanya, yes! You understand! Sometimes the most clarity comes when you're preoccupied doing something else.

    I can't control when inspiration hits, LOL!!

  103. You're scaring me, Audra.
    Outlining, plotting and supermodel hot, that is all you, baby.

  104. Thanks, Audra. Please throw my nme in the hat. I need all the plotting help I can get!

  105. Ooooh, starting at the end, I'm a plotter but I suck at the emotional journey being consistent, I think writing the end would mess me up royally.......just plain sounds scary!!! :)

  106. We will write tight;
    We will write short;
    We will write with passion.

    Ooooo, I like that, Auds -- our new mantra ... ;)


  107. LOL, JANET ... yes and no.

    Yes, it was pitched to Revell as a novella, and they wanted it, but this was back in 2011, I believe, and they planned to release it as an ebook first, and then a print book ... but not till 2015, I believe, or some far, far date like that.

    SO ... I decided it was the perfect vehicle for an indie book (although I was trembling at writing a novella even back then), so I made it into my shortest novel to date, which for me, is almost like a novella, right??? ;)


  108. VINCE!!!

    LOL ... I LOVE IT!! Always liked that joke by Henny, although I'm not sure "CHARITY DOES THE CATSKILLS" relays both a message of hope (our theme) or Christmas ... ;)

    But if anybody could do the Catskills, it would be Charity, I agree. :)

    She is just SO fun to write!!!


  109. Great post. Definitely include me in the drawing, please. Still not sure about difference between a plot point and a pinch point, and writing backwards feels funny, but it just might get me over the plotting hump. Scrivener has brought me a long way. Writing is definitely not a forward only, linear process.

  110. Thank you for this insightful post.

    You've whet my appetite for this book, please enter me in the drawing.

    Many thanks

  111. Thanks for the post, Audra! I have never written backward before, although I’ve tried—but it would be good to try again. It’s great to be able to have a second chance.

    I’ve struggled with creating a good plot as well. And conflict is one of my favorite things to write! Isn’t it funny how different we writers are sometimes? I think the plotting part may be getting better…maybe. Practice certainly does make perfect—although sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever learn it right.

    Thanks again for the encouraging post. Please toss my name in the drawing if it isn’t too late—Rock Your Plot sounds very useful.

  112. Great post and idea of writing it backward. Thanks for all the info.
    Would love to be entered for Rock Your Plot.

  113. Hi Audra! Holy cow, Rock Your Plot sounds like what I've been looking and praying for these last few months! Thanks so much for the tips in your post and the chance to win a copy of RYP.
    Kristen Anissa
    kam110476 at gmail dot com