Nanowrimo, national novel writing month fast approaches. Pounding out a novel in a month can be both exhilarating and exhausting, but with the right tools you can make it easier on yourself. So, grab your favorite beverage and join me in plotting Nanowrimo success!
Planning’s the thing…
Pantsers, don’t let that other p-word scare you! There’s always a huge debate between pantsers (those who tackle the blank screen, letting their creative muse lead the way) and plotters (those who plan scenes and story structure).
When I started writing, I definitely sat in the pantser camp. I’m a very unstructured, creative person, but I’ve learned story structure is like a GPS. Structure keeps me on track, it gives me prompts about where to turn, and I seem to get where I’m going faster because I don’t meander on the wrong roads. There’s nothing wrong with meandering, young Jedi, but sometimes the direct route is the easiest route.
The novel I wrote last year, I spent some time plotting, first the structure then the scene-by-scene road map, and I wrote the first 92K-word draft in about 5 weeks. More amazingly, when I got around to reading it, I was surprised at how well that first draft flowed. So…structure! It’s like the Force–not your enemy. It’s your friend and guide to fast writing.
Some different free resources for structure:
1. The blog IconoclasticWriter.com provides information about using storyboards and the Save the Cat structure format.
- Blake Snyder Save the Cat! Story Plot Development Storyboards blog post.
- Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! Storyboard PDF
2. Larry Brooks of StoryFix.com offers several fantastic books on story structure, including Story Engineering and Story Physics. And his website is a wealth of information. He will break books down, scene by scene, into a beat sheet, which is a great guide to structuring your own stories. Here he breaks down HUNGER GAMES into a beat sheet.
- Here is the link to Jami’s Save the Cat worksheet.
- Here is the link for Jami’s Larry Brooks Story Engineering worksheet.
- Here is the link for Jami’s Master Beat sheet combining Save the Cat and Story Engineering.
6. Writer, teacher, editor, and all-around plot Jedi Master/ninja, Jeff Gerke offers numerous books on writing, and his book Write Your Novel in a Month is a wonderful step-by-step guide to planning, writing, and publishing your novel. Jeff includes information about story, genre, types of heroes, creating the hero’s personality, inner journey, plot, structure, and craft know-how. Once you’re finished, Jeff also offers awesome editing services. He’s like Yoda without the syntax issues.
7. Jeff Gerke also runs WheretheMapEnds.com which is filled with a wealth of writing tools and tips–all for free.
So, fear not, young Jedi friends. Use the Force of structure and you’ll be amazed at how much faster you can write.