4 steps to launching a group that will supercharge your novel-writing

Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

Plotting groups may be the best-kept secret of successful novel writing. “Find a plotting group” was Tip #3 in my post on completing a manuscript faster. Now, “How do you start a plotting group?” is the number-one question in the comments. There’s very little info out there. Google “plotting group,” and you get bupkis.

Author and plotter extraordinaire Lynn Marie Hulsman was the brains behind our operation, The Plot Mavens. She interviewed other writers about their plotting groups to distill these four steps:

1. Identify your genre neighborhood

The requirements of plot structure vary from romance, to sci-fi, to fantasy, to literary fiction. Some genres…


The five tips that improved my writing time from years to months

Photo Credit Pixabay

My first novel was a decade-long slog. My second took six months.

This experience taught me five key lessons to complete my manuscripts much faster.

1. Spend quality time plotting

The pantsers out there, who write ‘by the seat of their pants,’ hate this idea. I hated this idea, too. We writers want to write — not stare into the middle distance thinking.

But if you’re trying to pull off full-length fiction, plotting is key. The more time you spend plotting, the faster the writing goes. That means timelines, character arcs, and turning points.

Don’t let yourself off the hook until all of the major…


Here’s one thing you see a lot less of since the pandemic:

Selfie sticks.

It makes sense.

Hello? Masks?

At first, there was the novelty of, “Here’s me in my mask!”

Here’s me at the beach with my mask. Here’s me in the fall leaves with my mask. Here’s me in my muffler in my mask. Me in the rain in my mask.

It got old quick.


A timeline.

Do you know someone who’s not paying their rent?

Me too.

Photo credit Pixabay

The real estate industry is about to become the mother of all pandemic casualties.

Here’s what’s happening in NYC.

1. People are not paying their rent

No surprise, as there’s been a big increases in eviction complaints nationwide.

As the $600 a week in extra unemployment benefits evaporates, folks face a choice between food and the landlord.

Everyone is noticing more homeless on the streets.


Here’s what’s going on…

The 1984 graduates of a small girls’ Catholic school have been doing monthly Zoom calls.

Photo by Anna Murray

Now in our 50s, our experiences are a microcosm of the pandemic.

— Pandemic — Love it


Here’s what’s going on…

— End of days?

Sometimes it feels as if the world may be coming to and end.

First the virus, then economic collapse, now looting.

Photo by Anna Murray

— Peaceful protests

Here’s a view from my friend’s apartment in Sheridan Square. Vast numbers of peaceful protesters swell the streets.

We are grateful to them.


Here’s what’s going on.

—Central Park has a hall monitor

This NYC worker was walking around a sunny, crowded Central Park, handing out masks and reminding people to social distance.

Photo by Anna P. Murray

— “Close” friends

Here’s a socially-distanced group.


At Zoom cocktails, my friend Shirley was a-flutter. She’d just gotten an antibody test!

A health department site popped up outside the Fine Fare at the corner of 116th and Lenox Avenue.

Antibody test! Now we’re talking. So a couple days later my husband and I went.

Photo Credit: Anna P. Murray

Harlem was bustling and evincing near-universal mask compliance.

Alas, at the Fine Fare we found no health department personnel pin-pricks a-ready.

Just midday shoppers.

Anna Murray

Tech expert, novelist, and essay writer with an ticklish funny bone. My novel, “Greedy Heart,” is First Best Book Finalist in the VIVIAN Awards.

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