Monday, November 28, 2011

Last Monday Book: No Plot? No Problem!

Post by Jenny

It’s the last Monday of November, which means the end is in sight for you NaNo writers! Whether you finish the month with 50,000 words or 500, I hope the experience rewards your efforts with good momentum that lasts through the holidays and into the new year. After a nice rest break, of course.

This month’s book is for anyone who, like me, didn’t commit to NaNo this year but hopes to someday in the near (or frightfully distant) future. And it’s also for anyone who totally rocked NaNo and wants to do it three times a year instead of just once. The reason No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing A Novel in 30 Days is so helpful for NaNo participants is because it is written by Chris Baty, the founder of National Novel Writer’s Month.

I was surprised to learn that NaNo was not the brainchild of a grizzled literature professor at an obscure private college. Au contraire. In 1999, Chris and the other twenty who signed on for the first NaNo were in their mid-twenties, had “no idea what (they) were doing,” and their “combined post-elementary-school fiction output would have fit comfortably on a Post-it Note.” They knew only that they loved books and wanted to write them.

Section One of the book is devoted to laying the groundwork for the writing marathon to come. This includes scheduling writing time, rallying a support team, planning for meals, and preparing for the physical challenges to come. (NaNo is tough enough without carpal tunnel syndrome or a metabolic issue brought on by a diet of coffee and Cheetos.) And because it’s probably a good idea to begin with an idea that does not burn out its short half-life in four days, Section One also addresses planning—but not over-planning—the novel’s general plot, setting, and characters.

Section Two is broken into four chapters, each meant to be read at the beginning of its corresponding week. Without giving away too much, I’ll just say that every chapter deals with the elations and tribulations that typically arise as the month progresses. And at the end of it all comes the chapter entitled “I Wrote a Novel. Now What?”

I found Baty’s tips and strategies to be practical, funny, and wise. Should I ever decide to jump into NaNo, I’ll want to have a copy of No Plot? by my side. Has Baty’s book helped you with NaNo?

3 comments:

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Not having a plot isn't a problem? Phew! Good to know, LOL!

I don't NaNo because November is a tough month for teachers. But I am starting a new project and I really don't have a good sense of the plot yet. I just know what my character wants to do ...

So, I'm jumping in with her and giving it a shot.

Plot structure is for revisions anyway, right? ;)

Patricia Stoltey said...

I haven't read Baty's book but will put it on my list. The thing that helped me the most was blocking out the writing times for the whole month in advance.

I made my 50,000 last night (Monday) but still have a lot of scenes bopping around in my head...hopefully another 30,000 words before the end of January. I want to write every day, but I don't plan to keep up the NaNoWriMo pace.

Jenny said...

Dianne, Good luck with your new project! I'm not a teacher, but November never seems to be a good NaNo month for me, either.

Pat, Congratulations on reaching 50,000! Sounds as though you have enough momentum built up to carry you through the holidays.

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