You knew it was coming up for months. Your mail box was spammed by NaNoWriMo emails which you managed to ignore because you’ll find time. “I’ll plan my novel closer to November” you say and before you realise, you’re hangover from the Halloween parties (or spamming Stranger Things 2) and it’s the first day of NaNoWriMo. You’re still up to it though, so I admire your motivation! Here’s a comprehensive and quick guide to help you plan that novella.

You still have time to catch up!

Grab my FREE printable here:

NaNoWriMo Novel Planning Free Printable

Ideas are cheap.

Haven’t got a clue what you want to write yet? Have a character but no context? I got you! Take piece of paper and draw a grid (the bigger the grid the bigger a set of ideas you’ll have to choose from), or use the one attached in my printable. In the top title columns write the titles for random facts about your character and story, then write random possibilities in the columns underneath. Take a step back and look at it, are there any funky or striking combinations that carry a story idea? Go for it! If you feel like changing it up or adding more possibilities then do it. This exercise exists to show you that you can get ideas from anywhere and quickly. Note one important thing: don’t censor yourself and your ideas. It’s better to go with what you feel than what you think is a more “sellable” story.

Use a story arc for plot structure.

They say that there are two types of writers: those who plan and those who just go with the flow. The best way to plan is by using a story arc. This is attached in my printable. Basically, all stories follow roughly the same “guidelines” and have similar points in their plot. You can use them to plan key parts of your story. Once you have these, all you have to think of is how to join them together.

Think about the basic structure.

Have a clear beginning, middle and end. When your story is truly character driven, it’s difficult to find an ending. Think about what your character needs to achieve. When they come back from their metaphorical journey and are changed is where you want your story to end. Try and leave each bit at a cliff-hanger to leave your readers hungry. A good tip I was given about this and I stand by is “Start late and leave early.”

You can take a look at my free printable for a planning sheet.

Plan scene by scene

Once you’ve got this far, you can start panning scene by scene when you get to each story arc point. This will save you time and let you have space for development if you change where your character is going and how the story is changing. Imagine each scene visually, and focus on movement.

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15 Comments

  1. November 1, 2017 / 7:21 pm

    You perfectly described my situation, I never seem to follow through my “write a novel” plan. Thanks for the tips, I’ll definitely check it out .

    • Alicja
      November 1, 2017 / 8:17 pm

      Thanks for checking out the post.

    • Alicja
      November 1, 2017 / 8:16 pm

      Thanks for having taking a look!

  2. November 2, 2017 / 11:21 am

    These are great tips for people! I have considered going NaNoWriMo a few times but I just don’t have the time or commitment to be honest! It’s a very daunting task and I applaud anyone who even attempts it! xx

    • Alicja
      November 2, 2017 / 10:23 pm

      Me too, I’ve tried using it as a planning and “bitsy” writing. I’ve never managed a novel. As much as I’d love to, I’m a poet…

  3. Harriet Portman
    November 2, 2017 / 11:28 am

    I’ve always wanted to do NanoWriMo. How I managed to avoid doing it throughout my creative writing degree I will never know… one year I will do it! Good luck!

    • Alicja
      November 2, 2017 / 10:24 pm

      Hahaha, I understand. I’m in my last year of Creative Writing, but haven’t written a novel, I use it more for planning. I’m focusing more on poetry at the moment.

  4. November 2, 2017 / 1:44 pm

    I’m not participating, but great post!

    • Alicja
      November 2, 2017 / 10:23 pm

      Thank you, thanks for reading 🙂

  5. November 3, 2017 / 4:24 pm

    great post! If I get stuck on my novel I might use one of the tips mentioned in your post

  6. November 4, 2017 / 11:33 pm

    This is great advice 🙂

  7. December 30, 2017 / 2:34 pm

    Thank you for this! I’m always looking for ideas on how to develop a story. I’m currently working on my first novel, and get easily frustrated when I find myself “stuck.”

    • Alicja
      December 30, 2017 / 3:35 pm

      Good luck, It’s always an adventure even just to plan. I hope it goes well for you and you find your ideas.

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