Let me paint a picture: You’re sitting at a cafe having a little lunch, maybe doing a little work, and sipping on a glass of iced tea. You look up and out the window, and you see a man passing by. Hat on his head, hand on the hat to hold it down against the wind, silver, hardshell briefcase in his hand. 

And then your eyebrows lift. 

You get an idea about the man with the hat, the man with the briefcase, the man in the wind. 

You blink, then scramble to flip to a clean sheet of paper, where you quickly jot out a few sentences of story idea. Pen scribbling across the page, you look up a few minutes later to realize that you’ve written down a paragraph containing the single. Best. Plot. *Ever.*

Um, but now what?  (And if you’re planning to write for this year’s NaNoWriMo, you need a fast “what”.) I thought I’d offer up some ways that you can think about turning that story idea (henceforth, the “Three Sentences”) into a full-fledged novel.  Long story short, once you’ve encapsulated the story you’re going to tell into your Three Sentences (which, believe it or not, is quite a skill (check here), it’s time to think about expanding them into 60,000 to 100,000 ( of gloriousness. 


To prepare a synopsis, write a bigger encapsulation of your Three Sentences in paragraph form. Opinions about the best length of a synopsis vary (check out, but the basic idea is that your expanding your Three Sentences to include more detail about the events and emotional development of your characters. 


Yes, it’s the dreaded thing you learned to do in high school English. Use the Outline function in Microsoft Word, a little Word Bullets and Numbering action (or your own method) to create an organized, step-by-step bullet-pointed list of the scenes in your novel. PBWriter has created a nice guide to outline development HERE, and she offers suggestions for outlining by chapter or by scene. 

You can be as formal or informal as you want. You can organize your outline in perfect sentences or the exact dialogue you’d like to include later, or, instead, you can just write out key phrases to help you trigger your memory. 

The benefit of this method is that it gets a lot of the heavy-duty plotting work out of the way; you’ll do the bulk of your plotting as you outline, so the only thing left is to actually do the writing. And, once your outline is complete, you can print it out and carry it in a folder or notebook to pencil-in ideas on the fly, or help guide your coffeehouse writing.  


If you like the idea of writing down each scene in a chapter, and/or each chapter in your novel, but you’re not sure you want to bother with formatting an outline, think about using index cards. 

Write each scene, each witty bit of dialogue, or even a scene location, on an index card. As you build your plot, you build your stack of index cards. The biggest benefit of using the index cards method is that you have utter flexibility to move the scenes around in your novel/stack. 

If you’re very fancy, you can buy personalized 3×5 cards ( to give your stack a personal touch. And, of course, this method is very, very portable. You can slide a rubber-banded or ring-bound stack [] into your bag when you leave the house, and you’ll have your novel with you all day.  


Storyboarding could be a subset of Index Carding (in that you could storyboard on index cards). With storyboarding, the idea is to visualize the major scenes in your novel, and actually sketch them out. This form of plotting is great for visual types, as you’re imagining a story in visual form–a building, a glance, a movement. It’s also geared toward big picture plotting, in that storyboarding focuses on major scenes, rather than on every bit of dialogue in the novel. 

A Moleskine storybook notebook ( might be particularly handy for this one. 


It took four novels for me to realize that I can’t use any of the above methods. I’m a visual person, but in the sense that I need to have a sense of the ENTIRETY of novel in a glance (or at least a few glances). So I figured out a new method: First, I take a blank work document and write out the days of the week in sequence in a relatively smallish font. Then I go back and fill in the events of the novel in chronological order (single-spaced) under each date heading. These are only general references to scenes, not a lot of detail regarding the content. But the succinctness allows me to get a good, overall view of where the novel is going, and of the scenes I still need to fill in. I also use Word’s Highlighting feature to keep an eye on my progress; scenes to be written get highlighted in yellow, then turned back to white when the scene is complete. 

I hope these suggestions give you some ideas for getting that novel underway. Thanks so much for reading, and thanks to BCC for hosting me!



Chloe has also been kind enough to answer a few questions for me too. 

BCC: Hi Chloe! Can you tell us a bit about your latest book, Some Girls Bite? 

CN: Sure! Some Girls Bite is the first book in my Chicagoland Vampires series, which tells the tale of Merit, a 28 year-old graduate student turned vampire in contemporary Chicago. She must learn to deal with the trials and tribulations of the fanged world, including a pretentious Master vampire and she-vamp who’s out to get her.

BCC: The next book in the series, Friday Night Bites, is released 6 Oct, can you tell us a little about it and how it has evolved from book 1?

CN: Friday Night Bites takes place about two weeks after Some Girls Bite ends. Merit is coming to grips with her role as Sentinel of Cadogan House, and the changes her Commendation into the House might have on her relationships with her friends and family.

BCC: What are you working on now – book 3 or something totally different?

CN: I just finished writing book 3, Twice Bitten, and I’m now moving on to the second book in my new young adult series, the Novels of the Dark Elite. 

BCC: Have you always been interested in Vampires and the supernatural?

CN: Yes, although it’s taken different forms. I was a big Star Wars and Star Trek: The Next Generation fan. I think the evolution for me has been into urban fantasy and paranormal romance, where we have fabulous women leading the scifi/fantasy charge. 

BCC: You have another book coming out Jan 2010, Firespell, which is separate from the Chicagoland series. Can you give us  some details?

CN: Absolutely. Firespell is the first book in my new young adult series, the Novels of the Dark Elite. In this series, we meet Lily Parker, a 16 year-old high school junior who’s sent to Chicago for school when her parents take an academic sabbatical. Lily makes fast friends with Scout Green, a fellow boarding schooler, but when Scout starts disappearing at night, Lily realizes that there are strange things afoot at St. Sophia’s.

BCC: If you wasn’t a writer what job would you be doing now?

CN: I have a full-time dayjob; so, probably that. 😉 In the evenings, though, I was always pretty crafty. When I had time, I scrapbooked, knitted, and did lots of different hands-on crafts that I don’t have much time for now. 

BCC: What is your writing process?

CN: I sit down with my laptop–usually at home, but sometimes at a coffeehouse for a change of scenery–and I go for it. 

BCC: Do you plot and plan your novels or do you just write and see where they take you?

CN: About half of each. I know where I want a book to go, generally, so I try to block out the events that will take place each day of the book. The dialogue and content of each individual scene is a spur of the moment decision. 

BCC: What is the best aspect about being a writer?

CN: Definitely being able to talk to fans about the books. It’s so rewarding when people have enjoyed something I’ve written, or when they have questions about where things are going to go. 

BCC: Would you want eternal life?

CN: Hmm. Interesting question. Probably not. I hope that at the end of my life I feel like I’ve lived it well, and that I’m ready for a nap. I think eternal life would be exhausting. 

Thanks Chloe!

Okay, on to the CONTEST!

Thanks to Chloe, you can win a SIGNED copy of Some Girls Bite and a Cadogan House gift pack! All you have to do to enter is:

• Follow this blog
• Follow me on Twitter (use link on sidebar)
• Leave your email address with your answer so I can contact you. 

Open to UK and US residents only. Contest ends 31st Oct. Winners will be announced 1st Nov.




Carolyn created Book Chick City in July 2009 due to her love of books. A Brit chick obsessed with zombies, kick-arse chicks and sexy heroes. She's also seriously addicted to chocolate, shopping, and coffee. Her favourite genres are Urban Fantasy, Romance and Zombie Lit... Brrraaaaiiinnnnsss!


Alicia0605 October 13, 2009 at 7:28 am

Great Post

I follow your blog
I follow you on Twitter



natalierenae October 13, 2009 at 7:30 am

Thanks for hosting the contest!

I'm a follower of your blog and twitter (mindfulmusings)
Natalie @ Mindful Musings


RKCharron October 13, 2009 at 9:07 am

Hi :)
I am going to do #5 on your list, as I am a visualist too.
Thanks for sharing your writing wisdom & for the great interview.
All the best,


Amy1225 October 13, 2009 at 9:30 am

I guess I would use the outline. I'm all about outlines.

I'm a follower
I follow you on twitter



Mandi October 13, 2009 at 11:56 am

Don't enter me, just wanted to say great post and interview!! And SBG is awesome 😉


Scott Romanski October 13, 2009 at 11:57 am

Following you on both…..looking forward to reading this

lastrideusa AT yahoo DOT com


Jo October 13, 2009 at 1:41 pm

This might just be the most awesome post ever! I want to write, but I have trouble getting things sorted out, so these tips are awesome! I am adding this post to my delicious bookmarks for writing!

Also, great interview! Author interviews are always fascinating!

Contest stuff:
I follow your blog.
I now follow you on twitter (@jo_Scrawls)
Email: joannestapley[at]googlemail[dot]com


Kimberly B. October 13, 2009 at 2:31 pm

That was a great post! I'm planning to do NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, so all the plotting tips should come in handy!
I follow your blog.
I follow you on twitter.
Thanks so much!
beax0002 (at) umn (dot) edu


elnice October 13, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Great post. She gives some advise.

Current follower
Current twitter follower


Elie(Ellz Readz)


cait045 October 13, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Great contest!!!

Follower (cait045)
Follower on twitter @cait045



ObsidianMorte October 13, 2009 at 3:47 pm

I follow your blog.

I follow you on Twitter.



Jennzah October 13, 2009 at 4:32 pm

im following you on twitter! :)


Jennzah October 13, 2009 at 4:32 pm

oh, and my email :


Tynga October 13, 2009 at 4:36 pm

No love for Canada or are we considered part of US? *winks*


Ruby October 13, 2009 at 4:54 pm
These are some great ideas which I definitely intend to put to good use right away! I'm currently fiction-blogging but want to put pen to paper and write the old fashioned way some day soon…


...MY NAME IS ELENI AND I AM A BOOKAHOLIC... October 13, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Nice giveaway girlie!

I follow this blog
I Follow you on Twitter (@lafemmereaders)



Angiegirl October 13, 2009 at 5:16 pm

I love the name Scout! And I'm looking forward to both series. Please enter me. I follow you here and on twitter. Thank you for the great interview and giveaway!

angiegirl (at) gmail (dot) com


joder October 13, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Thanks for visiting us today Chloe and giving us your writing tips! I think your series sounds great and I have them on my wishlist.

I follow the blog (Jody F)
I follow on twitter (jone402)

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com


Ros Marshall October 13, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Cracking Interview and Cracking Contest!

Please can I be entered –

I follow your blog
I follow you on twitter


(cookinmummy on twitter)


Jamie October 13, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Thanks for the great tips and answering Q&A for us Chloe.

I follow you on Blog and twitter!!



jeanette8042 October 13, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Awesome contest! I'm a follower of your blog!


Sara October 13, 2009 at 8:41 pm

I loved Some Girls Bite – must pick up the second book!

I'm so excited about Firespell – it looks like it is going to be an amazing YA debut!

I'd love to be entered into the contest!

blog & twitter follower


throuthehaze October 14, 2009 at 2:56 am

Count me in please!

I follow your blog

I follow you on twitter @throuthehaze

throuthehaze at gmail dot com


confessionsofacountrygirl October 14, 2009 at 5:12 am

Sounds like an awesome contest! Count me in!

I follow your blog and I follow you on twitter as well.


Mary Ann DeBorde October 14, 2009 at 6:28 am

Mary D
zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

Really enjoyed your interview and would love to win = thanks for such a nice giveaway:)

New follower on Google


Kimberly K. Hodges October 14, 2009 at 8:00 am

Great Post and Contest!

Following your Blog and Twitter


gapyeargirl123 October 14, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Great interview, really interesting. I can't wait to see this book in the shops (haven't spotted it yet! Don't know why) so of course I'm going to enter.

Already a follower.
Our book review blog twitter follows on twitter (thebookbundle)


Serena October 14, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Love this guest post and interview. I've bookmarked it for the references to writing and outlining. fantastic information.

I follow the blog in google reader and on twitter.

savvyverseandwit AT gmail DOT com


Serena October 14, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Also, I would love to have eternal life simply because of all the reading and writing I could get done!


YA Vampire Books October 14, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Great guest post and interview! I have to say that I love the titles of the books in the Chicagoland Vampires series!

I'm a follower


Stacy~ October 14, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Same here, I follow both your blog and on Twitter. I already bought the book but can never have too many Chloe Neill books :)


Cherie J October 14, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Great post! sounds like some really good advice.

I am a follower.
I follow on Twitter.



Jessica Lawlor October 15, 2009 at 3:41 am

This was such a helpful post. I just starred it for future use especiall with Nano coming up!

I follow your blog and twitter!


van_pham October 15, 2009 at 4:03 am

Great post and Contest :)

+ i am a follower of your blog




donnas October 15, 2009 at 5:37 am

Great post and interview.

I follow your blog

I follow on twitter (donnas1)

bacchus76 at myself dot com


tenshinohanran October 15, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Thank you for doing this!
I am following you on Twitter and on your blog.



danie88 October 17, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Those are some great ideas to get a story idea turned into a novel. I'll definately be using them, I've had some story ideas roaming around in my head and on paper for awhile so I've been thinking about starting to write a book. Should be an interesting and fun experience :)

-I'm a follower
-Following you on Twitter (danibookaddict)


Heather C October 17, 2009 at 6:55 pm

Following blog & on twitter.

twitter id: heatwave316


Cherry October 18, 2009 at 5:24 pm

Please count me in!

I'm an old follower.

Re-posted your contest at: http://contests-freebies.blogs.....-with.html


Natasha October 18, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Thanks for this contest!
I'm following you, but I don't have a twitter account.. I know everyone does, but I haven't gotten around to getting one. I will look into soon and then you'll be my first to add!


Tena October 21, 2009 at 12:28 am

Wit woo another great contest!
Please enter me
– I am a follower
_ I follwer you on twitter (5150mommy)



Bella October 21, 2009 at 8:19 pm

Oh my, I have just learned about these books and I MUST read then! They sound awesome!

I am a blog follower and a twitter follower (@b42bella).

Thanks for the giveaway!

b42bella AT


BrigidsBlest October 21, 2009 at 11:08 pm

• Follow this blog
• Follow me on Twitter (use link on sidebar)
• Leave your email address with your answer so I can contact you.

Done, done, and ( done!


alterlisa October 23, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Sounds like an great contest! Count me in!
When I ride with my husband on the motorcycle, I visualize scenes for my book to pass the time. Something about riding on the back of a motorcycle that makes your mind free.

I follow your blog.


Anonymous October 23, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Enjoyed reading the comments. Good outline with good suggestions
I follow this blog often


Josef13 October 25, 2009 at 7:56 pm

I'm a follower of your blog and twitter (josef195). :)

makotolightning (at) hotmail (dot) com


Mitz October 26, 2009 at 3:42 am

Great interview, love Chloe Neil wouldlove this book…

am a follower


LizSara October 26, 2009 at 11:08 am

I don't *think* have have entered but i am a follower and on twitter and my email is ifmusicbetheniam[at]gmail[dot]com


emmziekay October 26, 2009 at 11:14 am

There are some really good tips in there for writing …which are very useful as I am struggling at the moment! Thanks so much.

Following your blog and on twitter and my email address is



lag123 October 26, 2009 at 11:16 am

I follow your blog.
I follow on twitter. @lag32583


Mandy October 26, 2009 at 12:58 pm

I enjoyed the NaNoWriMo post. I'm still deciding if I'm going to try this year or not.

Please enter me in you contest. I follow your blog and twitter (mandyfish)



Shadowofwonder47 October 26, 2009 at 4:28 pm

This sounds like an absolutely awesome book! Please enter me.

Became a follower on blogger.

Became a follower on twitter.



GFDesignz October 27, 2009 at 5:37 am

I follow your blog and twitter

girlfrienddesignz at gmail dot com


sassyele October 28, 2009 at 11:52 am

Please enter me for this!
fantastic interview with some great tips for aspiring writers!
i follow your blog and am a follower on twitter!


Ryan G October 29, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Great giveaway!

I'm a follower through Google Friend Connect

I'm a follower on twitter @Ryan_Groff


Debbie F October 30, 2009 at 12:58 pm

count me in on this one! I have this on my WANT list!

I'm a follower
I follow on twitter! @dcf_beth
dcf_beth at verizon dot net


Casey October 30, 2009 at 1:34 pm

awesome givaway! I've been wanting to read these books for awhile now.

I follow your blog
I follow you on twitter (@casey625)


Shawna October 31, 2009 at 4:34 am

YA!!! I love this giveaway!!! Thanks for the chance to win a signed copy of this book I have wanted to read it for like EVER!!!

I am a long time blog follower (weloveourdogs)
I follow you on Twitter (theblindcupid)

Thanks again,
Shawna L


thetruebookaddict October 31, 2009 at 9:50 am

I'm doing NaNoWriMo starting on Sunday and I'm really nervous. These tips good be of good use, but I'm not much of an outliner!

I follow

I follow on Twitter @truebookaddict



ladystorm November 1, 2009 at 12:22 am

I follow both blog and twitter



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