Finish NaNoWriMo—Plan to Succeed with the Tools to Get There


Today I have a special treat from a long-time writing friend of mine, Kait Nolan, introducing a cool tool by another good friend Susan Bischoff. This is great information for any writer that will serve us far beyond November because this goes beyond NaNoWriMo.

I have said this before and will say it again and again. If we hope to ever make a living writing novels, we are not going to make our income off ONE book. We must harness the power of compounded sales. Aside from the rare fluke, this is always how writers have become pop culture staples. From Stephen King to Neil Gaiman to Anne Rice to Larry McMurtry, careers are made with more than one book.

But if it takes us five years to write the first novel and another five to edit the mess into a final product? We might want something to speed up the process and Kait is here to help with that. Additionally, NaNoWriMo is no easy feat. Great we finish, but better if we finish with something that can be shaped into something others want to pay to read. Ending up with an unsalvageable mess CAN be avoided.

I do a lot of teaching on this blog and feel free to roam the archives. But I also like taking time to direct you guys to the best resources to get you where you want to go.

Take it away, Kait!

National Novel Writing Month is nearly upon us.

Writers everywhere are making their vows to buckle down and crank out 50,000 words during the month of November. It’s one of the headiest times to be a writer all year, with hundreds of thousands embarking on the same mission. Never will you find more opportunities for sprint partners or writer camaraderie. There’s a fever that goes along with November that’s absolutely unparalleled. We are mighty! We are invincible! We are writers!

NaNo Meme

There are differing levels of preparation that go into NaNo.

A deep clean of the house (because you know you’re not cleaning a thing until December 1st). Maybe an epic weekend prepping freezer meals so that your family has something other than fast food to eat. A sharpening of the blade you’ll use to threaten whoever dares interrupt your precious writing time. And, of course, pre-planning of the NaNo novel itself.

The Pantser

Some people start with the vaguest of ideas and figure they’ll pants their way through it, fueled by Red Bull and raw enthusiasm. Most of those will fall by the wayside as the month rolls on, drowning under real world concerns or floundering in the land of asdfjkl; because they can’t think of what comes next. If they finish NaNo at all, they look something like this.


The Planner

Others may develop deep and detailed character dossiers or do massive worldbuilding, complete with annotated map. Still others may wander down that road of outlining so that they know exactly where they’re headed. Or think they do.

These folks are likely to get further in the process because they have, to some extent, eliminated the guesswork that is such a timewaster. Even some kind of plan will keep you plodding forward in your plot and get you across that finish line. And that’s AWESOME. Because hundreds of thousands of people never do that.

Finishing is HUGE.

But wouldn’t it be better if, when you crossed that finish line, you actually had a book that resembled…you know, a book? As in a story that bears strong resemblance to a salable tale? Because as fantastic as writing “The End” is, if you didn’t do the right kind of planning, chances are the crash from that NaNo high is going to be brutal when you realize you have to write the whole thing over from the beginning.

The Answer

Toolkit CoverI want to tell you how to avoid that. I want to share with you the deep secret I’ve been using for years to crank out novels that are, other than limited revisions, done right the first time. That system is The Story Toolkit by Susan Bischoff of The Forge Book Finishing.

Susan has been my editor for more than a decade, and the Toolkit arose, in part, because she kept seeing clients making many of the same mistakes, over and over. She wanted to create a tool that would, effectively, take somebody by the hand and lead them from idea to a solid, ready-to-write outline. And I’m proof that it works. This is the system that has allowed me to put out multiple books a year, despite the fact that I’m working one full-time and another part-time job, on TOP of writing. It’s all about efficiency and working smarter. Through a series of worksheets, The Story Toolkit asks the RIGHT questions to help you hone your glimmer of an idea into a viable premise and clear concept. Y’all, it’s like having a developmental editor sitting on your shoulder, helping point out the weak spots so you can shore them up before you even start! I don’t write my books without it.

So if you’re planning to NaNo (or if you’re just looking to improve your writing game), I encourage you to grab your copy of The Story Tookit today so that you can plan your novel the smart way and increase your odds of doing a victory dance come midnight November 30th! The ebook version is on sale for an introductory NaNoWriMo price of $2.99 until the end of October. Or you can nab the paperback for handy-dandy reference.



Thanks so much Kait! I am also offering a class this Saturday (Plotting for Dummies) and two hours of this class can literally save your Nano novel. Yes, this will even work for the Pantsers! All recordings come with purchase price even if you can’t make the actual class. And sure, the class is $35 but that beats the $3500 it would take to get a developmental editor to repair a mess. Also, feel free to peruse my archives for all kinds of free instruction. We really do want you to succeed!

What are your thoughts? Are you tired of starting stories that seem great to begin with then fizzle? Have you finished NaNo and what tools did you enjoy using? Have you ordered the razor wire to put around your desk next month?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of OCTOBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

Check out the NEW Plotting for Dummies class below!

All W.A.N.A. classes are on-line and all you need is an internet connection. Recordings are included in the class price.

Upcoming Classes


NEW CLASS! FRIDAY October 21st Plotting for Dummies

Are you tired of starting book after book only to lose steam and be unable to finish? Do you finish, but then keep getting rejected? Do you finish, but it takes an ungodly amount of time? Sure, great you land an agent for your book, but you don’t have FIVE YEARS to write the next one?

This class is here to help. The writers who are making an excellent income are not doing it off ONE book, rather they are harnessing the power of compounded sales. This class is designed to help you learn to plot leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner (even for PANTSERS!)

Learn the basic elements of plot, various plotting techniques, how to test your seed idea to see if it is even strong enough to be a novel and MORE!

SATURDAY, October 22nd Blogging for Authors

Blogging is one of the most powerful forms of social media. Twitter could flitter and Facebook could fold but the blog will remain so long as we have an Internet. The blog has been going strong since the 90s and it’s one of the best ways to establish a brand and then harness the power of that brand to drive book sales.

The best part is, done properly, a blog plays to a writer’s strengths. Writers write.

The problem is too many writers don’t approach a blog properly and make all kinds of mistakes that eventually lead to blog abandonment. Many authors fail to understand that bloggers and author bloggers are two completely different creatures.

This class is going to cover:

  • How author blogs work. What’s the difference in a regular blog and an author blog?
  • What are the biggest mistakes/wastes of time?
  • How can you effectively harness the power of algorithms (no computer science degree required)
  • What do you blog about? What topics will engage readers and help create a following?
  • How can you harness your author voice using a blog?
  • How can a blog can help you write leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner?
  • How do you keep energized years into your blogging journey?
  • How can a blog help you sell more books?
  • How can you cultivate a fan base of people who love your genre.

Blogging doesn’t have to be hard. This class will help you simplify your blog and make it one of the most enjoyable aspects of your writing career.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook



Kait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. This Mississippi native has something for everyone, from short and sweet to Southern contemporary romance to action-packed paranormal—all featuring heroes you’d want to sweep you off your feet and rescue you from work-day drudgery. When not working or writing, this reformed Pantser is hanging out in her kitchen cooking and wishing life were a Broadway musical.


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    • PHS on October 19, 2016 at 10:39 am
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    Reblogged this on Archer's Aim and commented:
    Gear up now and write smart!

    1. Thanks for the share!

      1. You are welcome, Kait!

  1. Just put the Toolkit on my Kindle! As much as I love the NaNo rush of writing with abandon, I’m all for ending up in December with something I can use, so thank you!

    1. You won’t regret it! It’s a little intimidating at first (it’s SUPER thorough!) but it’ll ask you all the right questions.

  2. Purchased! Thanks for this Kait. Every year, I say I’m going to be better at planning and actually do some outlining rather than pantsing / struggling. Then all of a sudden it’s the first and I’m on the ropes. This year – money where my mouth is. Great to have something to sit down with and work through. Full NaNo ahead!

    1. It’s SO hard to find the system that works for you. I’ve been picking and choosing pieces for years. 😀

  3. Thank you! Have just purchased. Sounds exactly what I’m looking for as I plan for my first ever NaNo!

    1. Best of luck!

  4. Just ordered my copy. I love plotting and I’m always looking for ways to strengthen my skills. I am excited to see what I learn!

    1. Isn’t it fun to try out new systems and see what works for you?

  5. Bought the Kindle. Can get a paperback later if I really like it. Wrote my first book as a total pantser, but at least one Professor and his brutal outlining and rewrite requirements for papers pushed me into building an outlining toolkit for problem solving if nothing else.

    1. Linked here from with a short blog post.

      1. Thanks!

  6. Totally annoyed. I wanted the book, went to the link…AMAZON.

    I’m a Nook reader. It’s available in paperback but not Nook.

    Very disappointed here. Really. I know Amazon tempts authors to be exclusive in ebooks but it really shorts the readers who are Nook or other devices that won’t accept the mobi files.

    I’ll have to wait for hubby to get paid and order the paperback and then wait for it to get here.

    I know, I want instant gratification, I’ll quit whining now.


    1. The book is not DRM restricted, so you can buy and convert for your nook via an ebook management program like Calibre. I did that all the time when I had a Nook!

      1. Thanks! So many are DRM. I have Calibre because I often get pdfs for review and I want to convert. 🙂

  7. Total panstser here, though log lines have helped. And they are short and concise enough that my Type A brain doesn’t kick in and follow that outline hell-or-high water.

    1. Everybody’s gotta find what works for them!

  8. I bought it when it released and am about one-third of the way through. I really should just print out the worksheets and get going filling them out now that I decided to follow my heart instead of my brand and write that elf story that’s been nagging the back of my brain for nearly a year.

    1. Did you get the free worksheets from her website? The link is in the front and back of the book.

  9. Pantser here. I found that shedding outlining advice (in most books) was actually the best thing to keep the story from fizzling. All that stuff was just getting in the way of what was already there.

  10. I bought it earlier and I’ve been going through the tool kit. Thanks for the recommendation. I’m reading the book. I’m looking forward to NaNoWriMo!

  11. Reblogged this on Kim's Author Support Blog.

    1. Thanks for sharing Kim!

  12. Glad I’m not the only pantser here! I’ve finished NaNoWriMo twice, both in print, one by indy publisher. I fizzled last year. Determined to finish this year. But do need good logline and rudimentary outline at least, I think.

  13. I just bought the Kindle version, and I’ll be reading it while I’m sipping hot chocolate by the seaside in Italy this weekend! Oh the hardship. Never done the NaNoWriMo before, but whatever I achieve, I hope it will be the start of a new mindset to make time for my writing every week, no matter what else is going on in my life. No more excuses!

  1. […] was reading an article by Kristen Lamb, found here, and realized that it will be time for NaNoWriMo in about a week and a half. This should tell […]

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