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Plan Your #NaNoWriMo Novel

October 10, 2017


Note From Rochelle


Dear Readers,

It’s NaNoWriMo time! If you’re planning to participate in National Novel Writing Month or are hoping to finish a project before the end of the year, consider joining my Write-A-Thon Group Coaching Program. You’ll get great tips, support, and the accountability you need to write. And even better, I’ve made it super affordable. Check out the Write-A-Thon Group Coaching page to learn more.


Last week, I wrote about how to choose a nonfiction book topic for #NaNoWriMo. But many of you will be writing a novel. Today’s tip will help you plan your story.






How to Plan Your #NaNoWriMo Novel

By Rochelle Melander


If you are writing fiction, think like a god. Release all the power of your imagination; create worlds and destroy them at your will, create as many miracles as your story needs”

― Bangambiki Habyarimana, Pearls Of Eternity


So here we are, less than a week away from NaNoWriMo. If you have not had time to prepare, these last minute tools will help you get ready to write your book in a month. Here’s my simple guide to planning a novel quickly and painlessly:


Start with delicious

List your favorite novels, characters, and settings. I adore mysteries—my brain craves puzzling plots set abroad. I’m jazzed when I can follow a smart detective into a new country. How about you? List what intrigues you.


Sketch out your idea

No doubt you have some notion about what you want to write in November. Jot down your idea, including the genre, central character, goal, conflict, and setting.

Pro Tip: Write this as a log line that you can refer to during the month. Here’s IMDB’s log line for The Wizard of OzDorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.


Expand characters and explore their goals

Describing your characters might be the most important part of preparing for your month-long writing adventure. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Character is plot, plot is character.” Consider:

What do your characters look like?

What are they curious about?

What do they love? What breaks their heart?
What do they want? Why?

What is her core belief about herself?

What is his core belief about others?

What is her key fault?

What or who gets in the way of her getting what she wants?


Set the scene

Author Joseph Hansen said, “Put weather in.” Sue Grafton added, “Make us feel the sodden weight of a wall of water driven by winds gusting 60 miles an hour.” (From Writing Mysteries, edited by Sue Grafton, 49). Where does this story take place? What’s the weather like? What sights, sounds, smells, and more will your characters encounter? Describe the main sets and create a visual file, either on a Pinterest board or in a journal.


Create conflict

As your main character sets out to accomplish her goal—fall in love, create a family, become a Ninja warrior—what might go wrong? List everything you can think of, no matter how crazy it might seem.


Outline your story

Are you a pantser or a plotter or combo platter? If you’re a pantser, you might think plots are the work of the devil, sent to make stories feel wooden and contrived. If you’re a plotter, you may wonder how anyone finishes a book without a detailed TripTik. For those of you doing NaNoWriMo, think about creating a loose outline: what strange and mysterious things will happen as your character seeks his fortune or the secrets of her past? As Ray Bradbury wrote, “Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”



Pro Tip: If you want more detailed information on planning your novel, pick up a copy of my book, Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in Twenty-Six Days (And Live to Tell About It).



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