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Tips for Avoiding Reporter Syndrome-author toolbox

Tips for Avoiding Reporter Syndrome-author toolbox

Reporter syndrome happens when the point-of-view (POV) character becomes a third party to the action in the scene, rather than being a direct participant

My Creative Outlets IWSG Feb 6

My Creative Outlets IWSG Feb 6

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Feb 2019

Hello all insecure writers!  

Things have slowed down at the website. For nearly two years I have posted almost every Friday on writing topic, but the schedule has changed in the last few months.


My attention is now split among too many areas. First is promoting my writing book, which has now been out for seven months. I’m happy that sales are steady. Unfortunately, they are also slow. But since it’s been consistently in the black, I’m counting it as a success.  

The second drain on my time and attention is my new job. I’ve returned part-time to the classroom. I’m enjoying it, but it has made my third venture trickier.  

My third venture is the upcoming release of a new novel. Yes, I’m writing more fiction (Hooray!) But this is a huge jump in genre for me, so I’ve paired up with a more seasoned author. The downside is that we’re also creating a publishing company (because Amazon won’t let you share sales with another author) and I’m publishing under a pen name. (Because I don’t want to be the primary school teacher who writes racy romance novels!) So not only am I trying to edit, promote, etc. I am also trying to work through the legal nonsense of setting up our publishing company.  

So that’s it for the news.  

Now, it’s time for another insecure writer’s post. This month’s question:   Besides writing what other creative outlets do you have?
The awesome co-hosts for the February 6 posting of the IWSG are Raimey Gallant,Natalie Aguirre,CV Grehan, and Michelle Wallace!  

Since wine and chocolate probably don’t count as a creative outlet, I’m going to go with my weirdest, most pointless obsession: planner decorating?

Yes, this is a thing.

Planner decorating is for people who aren’t busy enough to actually require the use of a planner. But there is something strangely satisfying about notating my single weekly appointment with about $5 worth of stickers. This isn’t just your average BoJo gone wild. This is a multi-million-dollar industry, run by bored soccer moms across the country (but mostly in Utah.) There are dozens of Instagram tags, hundreds of planner bloggers, and more Youtube channels than you would ever want to watch, all of women putting stickers in their planners. It makes no sense what-so-ever.

Here’s mine:

Yeah all this pink and hearts isn’t even my aesthetic, but for some reason, I really like doing it. Maybe it’s the illusion of being productive. Maybe it’s the instant gratification of slapping five or six stickers on a piece of paper and having a “finished layout.”

Other crafts are too time consuming. Knitting takes hours. Gardening takes weeks. Planner layout? About 4 minutes. And it requires no thought. That’s 4 minutes where I don’t have to solve a problem. Feed someone. Clean something. Fold something. Nothing. Just 4 minutes of easy.  

Ok, maybe I do get it.  

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Medieval Underpants: Recommended

Medieval Underpants: Recommended

Susanne Alleyn’s Medieval Underpants provides historical fiction writers with the tools to get their facts straight and

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method: Recommended-authortoolbox

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method: Recommended-authortoolbox

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method is a solid writing book, even if you don’t use the technique

Outlining Your Novel Review

Outlining Your Novel Review

Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland is a solid introduction to prewriting.

This book is billed as a beginner’s guide to outlining, but instead the bulk of the instruction focuses techniques and topics for brainstorming. These topics include overviews of the main aspects of story creation: plot, character, and setting. Exploring these areas is an important part of the prewriting process. The result of this process is what authors use to create their outlines.

Instructions for Outlining Too Thin

Unfortunately, Weiland does not give enough explanation about how to turn the information generated into a working plan for creating a draft. She names a few techniques like mind mapping and pictorial outline, but does not explain these techniques or show how they translate into a functional outline.

Mistitle mars an otherwise good book

The book opens with a lengthy argument for outlining. The aim seems to be to convince discovery writers to join the other team. She continues this theme throughout the book by interspersing author interviews discussing their views on outlining. While the aim appears to be validating Weiland’s position, they offer no new information and are less effective than Weiland’s own arguments in the the opening chapter.

This opening is followed by several chapters on topics for prewriting, but no discussion of the methods for incorporating these into the outline. Weiland missed the mark by not discussing some of the more common outlining techniques such as using index cards, graphing tension arcs, or beat sheets. She does suggest making a scene list that includes a two sentence synopsis for each entry. There is no mention of scene goals, scene/sequel, or plot points. This oversight is a missed opportunity to introduce beginners to one of the strongest advantages of outlining–fixing plot problems before the novel is written.

The purpose of Weiland’s scene list is to “look for trouble spots” which she defines as areas where she doesn’t yet know what will happen, rather than identifying problems with the story (pacing, plot holes, etc.)

A Better Brainstorming Guide

As an outlining book, it comes up short, but as in introduction to novel prewriting/brainstorming this book is a good resource. Weiland covers a lot of ground describing the elements that writers will need to consider when developing their stories. Many of these will come as a surprise to the beginner. These elements range from creating a compelling character backstory to technical writing issues like choosing the correct point-of-view.

Weiland follows her proplanning argument with the following chapters:

  • Premise- an overview of developing a vague idea in to a workable premise. This is a detailed discussion of the “what if” question and creating a compelling hook.
  • Scene List- creating a list of scenes in your story
  • Story Factors- discussion on themes, conflict, and other story elements
  • Character Backstory- brainstorming your character’s backstory
  • Character Interview- technique for delving deeper into character creation
  • Setting
  • Extended Outline- more writing mechanics: POV, intended audience, etc.
  • Abbreviated Outline- distilling scene list into single line summaries.
  • Using Your Outline- closing commentary.

I did enjoy her section on end of chapter hooks, which was an unexpected bonus and something I will definitely return to.



  • Covers lots of information beneficial to the beginning novelist
  • Provides a thorough overview of the prewriting process
  • Provides the reader with a better understanding of the amount of material needed for a fully-formed novel
  • Easy to follow and engaging writing style


  • Not enough information on outlining


Weiland’s book is a great choice for any beginner who needs help turning an idea into a full-length novel. She gives great information about the different areas of plot, character, and setting that must be fleshed out for a novel to work. By following her instructions, you will create a notebook full of ideas ready to craft into a story. If you are looking for help brainstorming your novel idea, K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel is a good place to start.

Outlining Your Novel is available here: (Affiliate link)

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Let The Manuscript Shredder help you with your next novel. Pick up your copy of Your Novel This Month today!

Amazon Ad Deception

Amazon Ad Deception

For most indie authors, Amazon ads are an unavoidable fact of life. But Amazon’s oversimplified reports can leave the author with the wrong impression. Getting to the truth of the numbers requires a little digging.

Takeover: Best Low-Cost Book Publicity

Takeover: Best Low-Cost Book Publicity

Author P.J. Friel talks about her upcoming takeover. Learn more about this easy and fun way to sell more books

Shameless Plugs Podcast Interview

Shameless Plugs Podcast Interview

I’m happy to announce that I am appearing again on the podcast Shameless Plugs. This time was are talking about NaNoWriMo and Your Novel, This Month.


I’m also happy to announce that Your Novel, This Month is now available in print!!!

Your Novel, This

If you haven’t picked up your copy, this is a great time. If you buy the print version, you get the ebook for free.

And if you are doing NaNoWriMo this month, best of luck!!!

Bad Writing Habits to Eliminate Now

Bad Writing Habits to Eliminate Now

Halloween is a good time to let bad habits die As a fantasy writer, I love all things magical, and recently I have turned that attention into researching Wiccan beliefs. (This is a purely scholarly pursuit, I promise.) One of the major Wiccan holidays is […]