Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then, she has earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and published four novels: Head Case, Beyond Lucky, Believe and her latest, a young MG series about the worst fairy godmother ever, The Wish List (Scholastic, 2017). Titles forthcoming include her first nonfiction picture book, Just Like Rube Goldberg (Beach Lane Books) Sarah loves working with other writers in one of her classes at Writers on the Net ( ) or the Highlights Foundation.

Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.

Dear Writers,

Although NaNoWriMo and I have never gotten along in the past, this year, I’ve got a series to finish (and a deadline!!!) and I’m going for it!

It always strikes me that November is a really busy month! Between holidays and writing events, my time this month is limited. And yet, I have to let down my guard and put a lot of words on paper! I have to be flexible about my normal process to create a working draft in a really short amount of time.

To prepare myself, I made myself some rules:

  • One chapter a day
  • Skip ahead if you need to
  • Start every writing day by stepping away from the manuscript and journaling about the story
  • If I mess up, no biggie!
  • Write spontaneously. But with a goal.

Normally, I write a discovery draft. But I don’t have time to do that. So instead, I wrote a Book Bible based on the questions:

  • What do you want to say? What is the point of this story?
  • What does your main character want? What do your secondary characters want?
  • What are her misbeliefs? When did they begin?

And a new one for me:

How do you think/want this story and series to end?

Let’s talk about why this is working.

I LOVE great endings. I LOVE books that make me think–that don’t end too neatly. I LOVE endings that surprise me, but that also feel inevitable and logical. I like when the writer seems to know JUST what I was hoping for–and fulfills my wish in a twisty and unexpected way.

Normally, I am a writer that doesn’t worry too much about where my story was headed until AFTER the discovery draft. But this is what is fun about writing a series. After three books, I know my main character really well. I have loved each chapter of Isabelle’s training. Now it is time for me to look at what I’ve written and finish the story.

Having a sense of where I’m headed is helping me in a number of ways.

–I am more aware of my secondary characters than I usually am. I know who is most important and who will create the most tension.
–I am more aware of the themes that are important to me.
–I am feeling more confident. 🙂
–I also know my characters are going to surprise me. (They already have.)
–I think I have a good sense of what my readers are worried about–and what they want to happen.

Are you ready to stretch? 

In yesterday’s journal, this is what I did. It really helped!

Ask ALL your named characters to confess!

Make sure they know that it’s strictly confidential! And that they HAVE to be honest! See what each of them has to say! I promise: it will help you gage their reactions to conflict in the story!

xo sarah

P.S. How about a Nano Writing Pal–with no pressure, no judgements, no deadlines… just hugs and support?

Join us on Facebook in The Tollbooth Writing Room. We’ll be there whenever you’re ready to write!

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Registration is open for: Manuscript Review for Children’s Writers ( GETTING TO KNOW YOUR NOVEL
Register HERE to join this online/in person workshop!