Nanoia: Chapter 3 is up!



The stairs creaked.

Tori hunched forward, the hard shape of the flashlight digging into her breastbone. She could hear herself gasping and tried to slow her breathing, tried to remember all the tricks the school nurse had taught her—breathe in for four, hold for seven, exhale for eight—but at that moment she could no more count than she could fly. All she could think about was the fifth step on the staircase, the one that always made that raspy creaking noise when stepped on, and remember every time she had stepped on it without giving second thought to the sound.

Calm down, she told herself firmly. Just calm down. It could be Dad! He could be home early.

Never mind that her father hardly ever came home.

Never mind that Frost was freaking out.

Never mind that every nerve in Tori’s body screamed with one desire:


Available now on Wattpad!


NO ADVERBS: The Reason Behind the Rule

If you’ve read any guide about improving your writing, you’ve heard the “No Adverbs” rule. Cross them out, delete them, take a tiny lighter and burn a hole through every –ly word that dares rear its ugly head until your manuscript looks like Swiss cheese, but don’t you ever, under any circumstances, ever use an adverb!

… Really?

Come on, folks. Adverbs are perfectly functional members of language society. It’s not their fault they’re so easily misused.

Adverbs are descriptors for verbs and adjectives, just like adjectives are descriptors for nouns. They tend to end in –ly, though there are adverbs that don’t (fast, regardless, seldom) and other non-adverb words that do (lovely, imply, gravelly).

(To quote a certain pirate movie: “Hang the code, and hang the rules. They’re more like guidelines anyway.”)

The problem arises when you use an adverb to support a word that’s not pulling its weight. ‘Said’ is a grievous repeat offender.

  • “You’re making a scene,” she said quietly.
  • “I’ll call the cops,” said the man angrily.
  • “Can I have some candy?” the girl said pleadingly.

Vanilla Verbs (or Vanilla Vocabulary), as I like to call them, are so bland yet so familiar that writers will use them as the first word that comes to mind. Examples: say, eat, run, walk, move, etc.

They’re words that have entire lists of synonyms in the thesaurus because they cover whole ranges of action that they cannot accurately convey without help (such as adverbs).

To return to our examples:

  • Said quietly – whispered, murmured.
  • Said angrily – growled, shouted.
  • Said pleadingly – pleaded.
    (That’s it. Go home. You’re shoring up a weak verb with an adverb made from the gerund form of a strong verb – stop the madness!)

Let me break for a moment for a quick disclaimer: ‘said’ is a perfectly acceptable dialogue tag by itself. It’s also perfectly acceptable to leave the dialogue tag off completely if your readers can infer which character is speaking from the dialogue alone. I do not advise using specialized verbs to tag every single line of dialogue. That way lies madness and pissed-off readers. However, if you are using ‘said’ and you feel the need for more description, then yes, I would suggest looking for a stronger verb rather than using ‘said’ paired with an adverb.

With that out of the way, back to our regularly scheduled programming!

So yes, adverbs are abused in ways that are easy to correct through proper word choice or careful rephrasing. Does that mean that you never use them, never-ever, cross your heart and hope to die?


Use adverbs when you cannot find a verb with the exact shade of meaning that you need. Use them to add description to verbs and adjectives that are already working to their full potential yet still need a little boost.

The train rattled along the track.

The train rattled briskly along the track.

Personification! The train has places to go and things to do. It’s moving quickly but not hastily, in a businesslike fashion.

The flower bloomed beneath the gardener’s fumbling efforts.

The flower bloomed feebly beneath the gardener’s fumbling efforts.

‘Bloom’ is a very specialized verb with few synonyms (blossom, burgeon, flower, unfold). So if you want to add more description to the action, you really do need some extra help. You can add another phrase – “The flower bloomed beneath the gardener’s fumbling efforts, though the growth was feeble.” – but if word count is a factor, that one adverb can look pretty attractive beside that five word phrase.

Or you can use adverbs to flip a verb on its head with unexpected meaning.

The baby wailed despite his mother’s cajoling.

The baby wailed defiantly despite his mother’s cajoling.

Here’s a new shade of meaning with a hint of anger and rebellion. Usually to describe a ‘loud, angry, rebellious noise’ you would use a word like ‘roar’ or ‘bellow’, but those don’t quite fit a baby’s cry, do they? So it becomes a bit of a language equation.

Loud baby noise + angry, rebellious = wailed defiantly.

So yes, adverbs can be misused, and they often are. If you’re mindful, however, they are a valuable tool for any writer.

Can you think of verb/adverb or adjective/adverb pairs that work together in unexpected ways?

Secret Weapons for Scattered Minds

ADHD Hack: The Miracle Cube Timer

It occurs to me that maybe if I talk about some of the things that help me work better, it will… well, help me work better. And help some of you work better, so it’s a win-win all around, right?

Say hello to my little friend.

The first and best contender that comes to mind is my cube timer.

Is it expensive for a timer? Not gonna lie, right now it’s clocking in at nearly $20 on Amazon, which… yeah, for a little cube of cheap plastic with a timer mechanism, that sounds pretty steep, but this thing has saved my mornings.

See, I am one of those people who is perpetually late to everything.

Let me emphasize: EVERYTHING.

The majority of my mornings during my middle- and high-school years consisted of setting an alarm for a good hour and twenty minutes before I needed to meet the bus, then hitting the snooze button until twenty minutes before I needed to meet the bus, then scrambling to get ready for fifteen minutes, then still occasionally getting sidetracked by that really freaking fantastic book that I couldn’t stand putting down for my remaining five minutes until my mom started yelling for me to get my rear in gear already because the bus was there and I was still trying to find my other sock.

(The phrase “Are you reading?” was often hollered accusingly through my bedroom/bathroom door. Let me just say for the record: had I owned a tablet or smartphone during my childhood years, I would have never made it to school on time ever. And let’s not even talk about when I went off to college. Here’s another tip: No morning classes ever. You will hate yourself. You will hate the world. You will miss so many lectures. It is Not Worth It.)

But back to my little friend, the Miracle Cube Timer.

After learning about the whole ADHD-minus-the-H deal, I found my little cube while link-hopping on Amazon. I had seen timers recommended for helping people keep focused on a task, but I couldn’t see them working well for me. I didn’t need something to limit how much time I spent on a project (usually), I needed something to keep me focused on working on the project in the first place.

And I certainly didn’t need to dither over whether I should set the alarm for 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, or however-many minutes. Choices and ADHD do not good bedfellows make.

But that’s what makes this little guy so gosh-darn good.

It’s a cube, so there are six sides: a zero, four choices for timer lengths (different colors have different times; the blue one has 1, 3, 5, and 7 minutes), and one side with the on/off switch and timer display and battery door.

Alternately, I also have the green timer, which has longer intervals (1, 5, 10, and 15), which I keep on my desk. I use this one when I’m working on something that might suck me into hyperfocus at an inopportune time (drawing, coloring, crafting, etc.) or if I’m doing pomodoro sessions for writing or cleaning. It’s handy, but it’s not nearly as vital as my little blue timer for the mornings.

Simply turn it on, flip it so your desired time is facing up, and it will start counting down. When it goes off, either flip it so the zero is facing up or turn it to start another timer. There’s also a little red light that blinks while it’s counting down and changes to a fast blinking when the timer is at thirty seconds or less. Easy-peasy!

When I’m first getting ready in the mornings (and I still give myself about an hour and twenty minutes, though I no longer hit my snooze button since I finally found an alarm set-up that works–I’ll talk about that later), I’ll flip the timer to 7 or 5 minutes. Then, as it gets closer to my time to leave, I’ll start using 5 or 3 minutes. When I’m down to the wire, I set it for 1 minute, over and over, until I’m ready and heading out the door.

It works great for several reasons.

  1. It keeps me aware. I do still read or browse the internet sometimes in the mornings (I am a weak-willed person, alas), but the timer keeps me from getting completely sucked in and losing all sense of time.
  2. The changing intervals give me a growing sense of urgency as my morning moves on. By the time I’m down to 1 and 3 minute intervals, I am focused and going full-speed to get ready.
  3. It only takes one hand! Any other timer you have to pick it up with one hand and set the time with the other. This one, you just reach over and flip it to the correct side. It’s genius, and I love it.

It has only one downside, and that is that I have to remember to use it in the first place. *sigh* Let me tell you, if I get out of my usual morning routine and put my timer off to the side for whatever reason, I’m screwed. Luckily I’ve gotten pretty good at making sure that it’s laying out in plain sight the night before–yay, progress!

So there you go! One secret weapon from my scattered mind.


Nanoia: Chapter 2 is up!


By the time she finished her homework, evening had arrived and joined forces with the clouds looming overhead, sending everything into near-darkness. Tori could see her reflection in the glass of the door leading out to the back patio, a pale figure outlined in yellow light against a sea of black. She rose long enough to lower the blinds over the door and was heading to get a drink from the fridge when she heard a faint scratching sound coming from outside.

She returned, opened the lock and deadbolt, and cracked open the door a scant few inches, and a sleek furry body squeezed inside with a faint mew and gave an almighty shake, scattering water across the floor.

Tori crouched down and scooped the cat into her arms.

“You’re late,” she scolded. She buried her face in the soft, slightly damp fur of the cat’s neck and breathed, feeling muscles down her back relax for the first time since she had left the house that morning. The cat kneaded happily at her arm and ratcheted her purring up another notch.

She pulled away, met the green-gold eyes, and said, “You would not believe my day.”

The cat, a pale gray tabby who occasionally answered to Frost, chirped sympathetically and started to wash Tori’s arm. Tori shifted the cat around until she could hold her under one arm and went to close the door when the lights flickered, and something outside groaned.

Available now on Wattpad!

Daily Life Whattheduckery

Confessions of a Scattered Mind

Confession time: I’m a perfectionist.

I’m also a well-read perfectionist, so I know that it has less to do with genuinely wanting to create something that is the best that it can be and more to do with social anxiety and fear of rejection and avoiding vulnerability. (Thank you, Brene Brown.)

I’m a hot mess, but at least I’m self-aware.

I also seem to work in cycles, the duration of which varies by how much effort and enthusiasm are involved in a particular project. The cycle goes something like this:

  1. Pre-Project Hyperfocus: A wild New Idea appears! Said idea slams into my brain and promptly takes over approximately 90% of my thought processes. This is the stars-in-my-eyes, love-at-first-sight stage, when I can see all the possibilities.
  2. The Flash: The work begins. Heart, soul, and sanity pour into the project. Planning and plotting are so much freaking fun, I swear. (Is there a job where you can get paid just to plot stories? I would rock that.) If I’m lucky, the Flash stage lasts into—or by some miracle, through—the writing process. That’s rare. So rare.
  3. Post-Flash Depression: The energy is gone, hope is lost, the project stretches into infinity with no end in sight, and the world is a cold, dark, lonely place. You know when I vanish from the web for days/weeks/months at a time? This is that. (Sorry. I’m working on it.)

I’m still trying to understand my own brain. The more I learn, the more I see how to work with my idiosyncrasies, and the easier my life gets. Sometimes. Also, the more I feel like my brain is actually a separate entity more akin to a sleep-deprived two-year-old.

There are certain things that help string the Flash out longer. Dropping back to planning/plotting can help, but it also tends to bite me in the butt—it leads to things like scrapping entire swathes of finished story, redoing outlines from the ground up, and basically starting everything over at square one. Repeatedly.

(Ask me about my Dominion novel sometime. Actually, don’t. Please. I think I’m on revision three-hundred and ninety-something…)

Slowing down can help… or it can send me into Stage 3 even faster. Rather, the key seems to be finding ways to increase momentum, yet not too much! Too much also leads to Stage 3. Surely there’s a happy medium?

Interaction helps, getting feedback and being able to talk it over with others, hear what works and what doesn’t, but that can backfire spectacularly. (“Did you just say you’re writing about giant alien lizards?” / “No. No, I did not.”)

I keep seeing the advice to “break it down”—take a large project and divide it into small, manageable chunks. And that can work for a little while, too, if I can trick my brain to give up the Big Picture and focus on the Small Picture, which it does not like at all.

I think this stems from certain chunks being less shiny than others, and my brain knows that there are really shiny chunks it could be working on but instead it’s stuck with this ugly, non-shiny chunk to finish first and it’s just not fair. (I mentioned that my brain is a two-year-old, right?)

So at the moment my projects break down something like this:

  • Nanoia planning – slowly pulling my way free of Stage 3
  • Nanoia draft – easing warily into Stage 2
  • Any Witch Way serial – so much Stage 1, oh, my god

Now, please excuse me. I have chapters to write, plots to weave, and self-help audiobooks to peruse. Until next time!

TL;DR—my process remains a work in progress, my brain is weird, and holy crap, I have got to get to work.

Nanoia, Stories, Write With Me!

Nanoia: Chapter 1 is Up! (And Other Things)

I’m so sorry for the delay, everyone, but I hope this will make up for it. I’ve just posted Chapter One of Nanoia up on Wattpad!

I’ve been doing lots behind the scenes, but I guess I’m pretty bad at translating those daily minutiae into blog form. It’s something I’m working on. (Do… do you guys want to read about the daily minutiae of my writing whattheduckery? Because that could be a thing, I suppose…)

113932719-176-k414308For example, I found a nice program to use to produce ebook covers—Canva! I will definitely be talking about it more in a future post, but for now I’ve used it to make up a really simple cover for Nanoia, so that it doesn’t look quite so naked out there on the World Wide Web with the other ebooks.

I’ve also been working on building a Patreon for a light-hearted urban fantasy serial series tentatively titled Any Witch Way, which I will squeak about more in the near future.

But in the meantime, new chapter! First chapter! An exciting day! I hope you enjoy, and I look forward to continuing this adventure with all of you.

Until next time!

As always, I am open to requests, questions, or suggestions! Drop me a line in the comments if there’s something you’d like me to talk about!


Step Six: Outline

We’ve made it! This is it, where you finish your Ultimate Outline of Awesome.

Now that you have your four Acts, neatly divided by your Tentpoles, you can use them as containers for all those handy plot points you came up with for your Hero’s Journeys.

That’s all that this step is, really. Compiling.

You can do it multiple ways. If you just want to bull through and put all your plot points in order in one go, you’re welcome to do so, but the reason I take the time to decide on my Acts and Tentpoles is because it gives me a handy guide and a sort of measuring stick for pacing. It can be unwieldy to try and shuffle 39+ plot points (my last outline had over sixty!) into proper order. However, if I take each plotline and divvy up which points belong in which Act, I can then organize each section individually and ensure none are too short or too long.

(Also, the Tentpoles are pretty distinct signposts, and it’s usually easy for me to decide whether a plot point comes before or after a certain Tentpole.)

So step-by-step, how do we compile? Well, this week you get very detailed instructions for your assignment.


1. Sort plot points under the correct Act or Tentpole.

I’ll start with my Acts and Tentpoles like so:

  • Opening
  • Act I
  • 1st Doorway
  • Act II
  • Midpoint
  • Act III
  • 2nd Doorway
  • Act IV
  • Closing

And my list of Hero’s Journey plot points like so:

(Note: […] denotes where I’ve cut content to make this a little less unwieldy.)

  • Public
    • Public 1
    • Public 2
    • Public 3
    • […]
    • Public 13
  • Personal
    • Personal 1
    • Personal 2
    • Personal 3
    • […]
    • Public 13
  • Private
    • Private 1
    • Private 2
    • Private 3
    • […]
    • Private 13

You get the idea.

And through the mighty power of drag-and-drop (if you’re doing this on a computer rather than longhand, but to each their own!), I’ll go through each plotline and sort each plot point under the correct Act or Tentpole. I don’t worry about order within the Acts at this point. This is just straight-up sorting.

2. Organize the plot points inside each Act and Tentpole.

After all the plot points are tucked under the correct heading, then I’ll go section by section and put them in order. You may have duplicate plot points (remember when I said some important scenes could pull double- or triple-duty?), so this is where you can combine the copycats into one. You may have a plot point that actually takes place over several separate scenes—this is where you divide it into however-many new points and sort them into the appropriate Act(s).

So your list winds up looking like this:

  • Opening
    • Personal 1
    • Private 1
    • […]
  • Act I
    • Personal 2
    • Public 1
    • Public 2
    • […]
  • 1st Doorway
    • Personal 3
    • […]

And so on.

3. Look for gaps.

(Hang in there—you’re almost done!)

Now you go through your plot points, line by line, and look for gaps. Maybe one plotline has your main character at home, getting ready for bed, and the next one has them on the run from a mafia hit man in a shopping mall. There should probably be a transition between those two scenes, don’t you think?

I’ll add an empty line to show a gap that needs to be filled. Continue through the list and do this whenever you come across a place that needs a scene (or scenes) to bridge between plot points.

4. Fill in the gaps.

This is where being able to “visualize in fast-forward” comes in handy.

Start at the top of your list and skim down. Imagine the scenes, how they fit together, and when you hit a gap, add in whatever scenes are necessary to get from Point A to Point B. But the key is to do it quickly—don’t get bogged down in details! Fast-forward, not slow-motion.

Things to look for here are:

  • Big gaps
    A big gap means there’s a big area of your narrative where nothing is happening to support your central plotlines. Consider whether you need to shuffle some plot points around to fill in this gap or whether you need to alter your story’s timeline to close this gap.
  • Gaps that have a repeated theme
    Is there a plotline that you haven’t looked at? Consider whether there might be a hidden Hero’s Journey that needs to be worked up and added in. If so, take this chance to create a new Hero’s Journey outline and sort the plot points into the correct places.

(Tip: I use a different color when filling in gaps, so I can easily see what scenes don’t directly relate to my main plotlines.)

“Fast forward” through your outline however many times it takes to close those pesky gaps. There may be quite a few! One novel I have in progress had most of the latter half of Act III as one gaping hole. It took some work fixing that, but I discovered a new plotline that worked to fill in other gaps, so it worked out in the end.

5. Remove the headings (optional)

Once everything is organized, I like to delete the headings and leave myself with a list of my plot points in chronological order. This is the outline I work from when drafting.

Once you’re finished, sit back and bask in a job well done.

Because you have done something awesome, incredible, extraordinary—you’ve created a detailed, multi-layered novel outline, ready to be turned into a first draft.


Write With Me!

Weekly Writing Wrap Up! Step Five: Acts and Tentpoles

Whoops! Sorry for the delay. But here we are, all the way through Step Five. Can you believe it’s been over a month already?

Soon it will be time to start on the rough draft itself. I may start posting writing exercises or drabbles on here. Comments, opinions?


The opening scene revolves around Tori’s “allergy” to computers, a key part of the plot that needs to be introduced early, and her isolation at school and home. It’s probably going to be a scene about frying a computer at school due to a substitute teacher being unaware of Tori’s particular quirk. (Her medical files state that she has a genetic condition of some sort, too much metal in her blood, who knows—suffice to say, the teachers and students think it’s bizarre but take it at face value. Let me just put the words PLOT POINT here in big bold letters. Okay? Okay.)

Act I

Act I is Tori’s introduction to the adventure and our introduction to her life. We’ll see her at school, at home, experiencing her usual day-to-day life, and her first introduction to one of the Wyswrii—the “invisible monster” that invades her home (probably Tabak). We’ll also see the inside of her father’s lab, meet the Nanoia, and introduce the other two Wyswrii.

1st Doorway

Tori crosses the threshold into Act II when she rescues the captured Wyswrii and the Nanoia escape confinement. Her father is left behind in the chaos.

Act II

Act II covers Tori traveling with the Wyswrii to the Intergalactic Council Whose Name Is Still Yet To Be Determined. Cue human/alien getting-to-know-you hijinks. She’ll learn the origin and extent of the Nanoia threat, why they’re on Earth, and the Wyswrii’s mission—the ultimate plan to destroy the Nanoia once and for all. Tori meets the Wyswrii’s mentor, Lra-Hna, and learns more about her own “quirk”.


Someone tries to sabotage the Council. The Council wants Tori to remain in custody. Tori stands up for herself, demands to return to Earth with the Wyswrii to save her father.


Back on Earth, the Nanoia are spreading, unknown to the humans, causing illness and, in some cases, death. Tori and the Wyswrii infiltrate a Nanoia “base” (for lack of a better word). Tori gets more comfortable with her abilities and grows closer with her new scaly friends. They uncover the true nature of the Nanoia’s plan—i.e. Big Bad Things For Everyone Everywhere. They learn the location of the Nanoia Central Core and Tori’s father.

2nd Doorway

The Wyswrii begin their assault on the Core, facing off against those infected by Nanoia, turned into loyal drones.

Act IV

The final battle to stop the Nanoia. Adventure, danger, confrontation, sacrifice, all those lovely things that make your pulse pound.


… Well, I won’t spoil everything.

Until Monday, lovelies! Next time—Step Six: Outline.

Write With Me!

Step Five: Acts and Tentpoles

In the last step, we talked about using the Hero’s Journey to structure your various plotlines. Today, we’ll learn about using Acts and Tentpoles to structure your story as a whole.

Now, what exactly do I mean by act or tentpole?

An act is a larger chunk of your story, and it can encompass multiple scenes in multiple places. A tentpole is more similar to the climax, where you can zoom in on a particular scene or even a particular second where something changes. When I outline, there are four acts and five tentpoles. Tentpoles (in bold text) divide the acts like so:

  1. Opening
  2. Act I
  3. 1st Doorway
  4. Act II
  5. Midpoint
  6. Act III
  7. 2nd Doorway
  8. Act IV
  9. Closing

Each of the four acts has a sort of theme to it. The Save the Cat! method for screenwriting designates them Orphan, Wanderer, Warrior, and Martyr.

  • Act I (Orphan) shows your main character in their ordinary world. They’re somehow alone or out of place.
  • Act II (Wanderer) shows your main character in the early stages of their adventure. They’re exploring, learning the ropes, but they’re still relatively passive, going where the plot pushes them.
  • Act III (Warrior) shows your character taking charge. They know what they’re up against, they understand the stakes, and they’re forging their own path.
  • Act IV (Martyr) shows your character in the final showdown. They will often sacrifice something important in order to achieve victory.

The tentpoles divide up your acts. The name comes from James Scot Bell’s book Super Structure (again, I recommend all of his books on writing). He says to picture the tentpoles like those of a circus tent, holding up the roof. His five tentpoles are Disturbance, the two Doorways, the Mirror Moment (aka Midpoint), and the Final Battle. I use:

  • Opening
  • 1st Doorway
  • Midpoint
  • 2nd Doorway
  • Closing

I put a lot of thought into the Opening scene, trying to choose the optimum place to start the story. It has to be early enough that you can introduce your reader to your world without just chucking them into the center of everything with no explanation whatsoever, yet late enough that they don’t have to slog through entire chapters before things get interesting. It’s not as much of a problem in stories set in modern day Earth, but easing your reader into a completely alien world a la sci-fi or fantasy can be tricky.

The 1st Doorway is when your character moves from Act I to Act II and they do so in such a way that there is no going back to the way things were before. That’s the key characteristic of the two doorways—no take-backs.

The Midpoint is a beat in the center of your story where your character flips from passive to active. Something happens that forces them to take charge—maybe they’ve hit their limit and refuse to be pushed around any more, or maybe they realize exactly how high the stakes are and start fighting in earnest. Maybe they learn something that flips their world on its head.

The 2nd Doorway is just like the 1st Doorway, except your character moves decisively toward the final conflict. You know in video games when your avatar crosses some imaginary threshold, and you’re suddenly locked in a battle with the Big Bad Boss with no way out? The 2nd Doorway is kind of like that.

For the Closing, look for some way you can relate it to your opening scene. I enjoy it when a book comes full circle—when something from the opening is echoed in the ending. It’s not necessary, but it’s a nice sort of crowning touch. A prime example comes from my favorite book, Watership Down by Richard Adams.

First line: “The primroses were over.”

Last line: “… and together they slipped away, running easily down through the wood, where the first primroses were beginning to bloom.”

If you don’t want to go the full-circle route, think of what final image you want to leave your readers with as they finish your story. Leave them with something to savor.


I considered using Avatar again as an example, but I’m seriously afraid you guys might hunt me down and pelt me with rotten fruit if I tried. So we’re going to mix it up. You like How to Train Your Dragon, right?

Opening: Hiccup tells us about living in Berk. “This is Berk. It’s twelve days north of Hopeless and a few degrees south of Freezing to Death. It’s located solidly on the Meridian of Misery. […] The only problems are the pests. You see, most places have mice or mosquitoes. We have dragons.”

Act I: We see Hiccup’s life in the village—more importantly, we see how he doesn’t fit in. He uses one of his inventions to shoot a dragon out of the sky, but no one believes him. He goes out on his own to search for the dragon and finds it—tied up, helpless. Hiccup could kill the dragon and return to his village a hero, but…

1st Doorway: Hiccup sets the dragon free, and the dragon spares his life.

Act II: Hiccup’s father enrolls him in dragon-fighting training. They tell Hiccup, “a dragon will always go for the kill” but Hiccup knows differently now. Hiccup seeks out the dragon and learns about it, about its injury, names it Toothless.

Midpoint: Hiccup approaches Toothless, throws his weapon away, and reaches out. Toothless approaches and allows Hiccup to touch him.

Act III: Hiccup and Toothless play and learn about one another. Hiccup designs a tail fin to help Toothless fly. After some false starts, Hiccup and Toothless learn how to fly together. They are discovered by Astrid. Hiccup, desperate to keep Toothless safe, kidnaps Astrid (for a little while). Together they fly and see the dragons’ nest. They learn about the monstrous dragon that is keeping all the other dragons in thrall.

Back in the village, facing off with a dragon in the arena, Hiccup tries to prove to the vikings that they don’t have to kill dragons by showing them how he can tame the dragon, but it goes wrong and Toothless bursts in to save Hiccup. The vikings capture Toothless. Hiccup’s father Stoic learns that Toothless can lead him to the dragon nest. Stoic sets out with Toothless chained to his ship and leaves Hiccup behind in disgrace.

2nd Doorway: Hiccup shows the other young vikings how to ride dragons.

Act IV: Final showdown. The vikings face off against the giant monster-dragon. Hiccup and his friends arrive and save the day. Hiccup rescues Toothless and they defeat the monster-dragon, but Hiccup is nearly killed in the attempt. He wakes in the village later and discovers that he lost his foot in the battle. He and Toothless are now matched: Toothless’ tail-fin and Hiccup’s foot. The vikings live a new life alongside the dragons.

Closing: Again, Hiccup narrates. “This is Berk. It snows nine months of the year, and hails the other three. Any food that grows here is tough and tasteless. The people that grow here are even more so. The only upsides are the pets. While other places have ponies or parrots, we have… dragons.”


This week, look at your plotlines and think about how they might divide up into Acts and Tentpoles. Hint: use your Central Change to figure out your Acts and Tentpoles. After you have the basic structure worked out, you can add in all the extra plot points from your supporting changes to fill things out a bit.

But we’ll talk about that more next week, in Step Six: Outline. Until then!


Weekly Writing Wrap Up!

Step Three: Climax

Without giving too much away, the climax involves Tori and the three Wyswrii (the giant-alien-lizard-warrior race now has a name–much easier to type!) infiltrating the Nanoia Central Core… basically a massive computer brain-slash-infestation with the creepiness factor dialed up (details still in the works).

Tori, against all orders, suggestions, and pleas to the contrary, does something stupidly dangerous and self-sacrificing to try and take down the Core before it spreads to the universe at large.

(Again, not sure how much detail to put into these parts… Do you guys want spoilers or suspense?)

Step Four: Hero’s Journey

The happy plotting fun-times has begun! There are still muzzy parts to be worked out, and some of the notes might not make much sense without more context (sorry!), but bear with me, please.

This will also be a little strange to read because the timelines overlap, but not in a really easy-to-explain way, and some steps may occur in a slightly different order than shown below.

All the plot points will be laid out in proper timeline order a couple steps from now. In the meantime, it’s probably easiest to read each column top-to-bottom on its own.

Table O’ Plots – Nanoia Version

 Ordinary World Tori sees the Nanoia container in her father’s lab. Tori lives a lonely life. / Wyswrii are trying to hide on earth while investigating the Nanoia. Tori lives mostly alone, goes to school, never makes waves.
 Call to Adventure Nanoia escaped from lab, infecting humans. Tori is home alone when the power goes out and an ‘invisible monster’ breaks into her house. In the lab, Tori feels conflicted when her father captures the ‘monster’ aka Giant Alien Lizard and hurts it.
 Refusal of the Call Tori and the Wyswrii flee to seek help. Tori runs away from the monster, gets a ride to her dad’s lab to try and get help. Tori obeys her father and leaves the lab where the alien is being held.
 Meeting the Mentor*
  • Wyswrii
  • Intergalactic Council Whose-Name-Is-Yet-To-Be-Determined
Master Lra-Hna (alien ancient-guru-type character) tells Tori about Wyswrii culture.
  • Wyswrii
  • Lra-Hna
 Crossing the Threshold Tori’s father is taken by the Nanoia. Tori helps the captured alien to escape the lab.
 Tests, Allies, Enemies Tori travels with the Wyswrii to speak with the Intergalactic Council Whose-Name-Is-Yet-To-Be-Determined. Tori learns about the Wyswrii, sees how they argue yet respect each other (new concept for her).
 Approach Tori insists on returning to earth with the Wyswrii to help fight the Nanoia.
 Ordeal Tori attempts to forge a mental link with the Nanoia to find it’s central core–almost loses herself in the hive mind. Tori and the Wyswrii take down a decoy Core. Tori’s mental link with the Nanoia.
 Reward Tori knows how to find the Core. Tori and the Wyswrii rescue the Nanoia’s hostage and learn the Nanoia’s endgame plan (to infect the intergalactic travel system to spread everywhere). Tori knows how to find the core.
 The Road Back Tori and the Wyswrii travel to the Core.
 Resurrection Hero Tori sacrifices herself to the Core to stop the Nanoia. Wyswrii hold off Nanoia drones while Tori makes her way to the Core. Tori disobeys the Wyswrii and does something stupid and self-sacrificing to stop the Nanoia.
 Return with the Elixir Nanoia defeated. Tori is officially adopted into the Wyswrii group. Tori lives with new confidence in herself.

That’s it! The bare-bones beginning of Nanoia’s plot. Are you excited? I’m so excited.

Thoughts, comments, questions?