OH, so you thought NaNoWriMo started in NOVEMBER, did you!?!
WRONG! NaNoWriMo starts NOW, RIGHT NOW!
The secret to success in this venture is PLANNING!!!
“But I’m a PANTSER!” you say???
NOT THIS MONTH YOU AIN’T!!!!
Writing 50k words of aimless story you’ll just have to rewrite later DOESN’T COUNT.
You don’t want to go through the agony that is NaNoWriMo and then just have to turn around and SCRAP most of what you just sweated and bled!!!
Only newbies jump into NaNo without at least a loose, rough SKETCH of their proposed NOVEL!
And you are NOT a newbie, are you!?!?!? NO YOU ARE NOT!!!!
You are a story-slinging, world-building, character-creating badass muthafucka who eats 3,000 words for breakfast!!!!!
YOU CAN DO THIS THING AND YOU CAN DO IT WITHOUT CRYING EVEN ONCE!!!
“But it’s so haaaaarrrrddd??” you say?!?
GET YOUR SORRY ASS INTO THIS BOOT CAMP AND FIND OUT HOW YOU TOO CAN KICK NANOWRIMO’S ASS!!!
PREP WEEK ONE: THE TEN ESSENTIAL SECTIONS OF YOUR NOVEL
REQUIRED READING: “Book in a Month” by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
“Plot and Structure” by James Scott Bell
In Ms. Schmidt’s extremely helpful and amazingly awesome book which you should all go purchase and read especially if you are going to do this NaNo speal, she mentions how A-list movies generally have no more than ten to twenty scenes in the space of the entire movie, while B-list movies tend to have thirty to sixty. WTH does this have to do with this novel-thingamajig you’re supposed to write in 30 days??
A GOOD NOVEL should have only around ten total “scenes”, no matter the word count.
What what WHAT?!?!
Correct. Shut up, sit down, do it.
Now, for novels, we won’t call them “scenes”, as that can get confusing. We’ll call them SECTIONS. These sections can carry across scenes, events, and even across chapters. The point is that you are basically dividing your novel up into ten main parts, each one of which has a certain purpose and certain information it should convey to the readers.
BEFORE NaNoWriMo begins, it is incredibly helpful if you already have at least a very vague idea of what these ten essential sections of your novel will be. If you really haven’t the foggiest clue what you’ll be writing come November, you can still have the knowledge of what these potential sections SHOULD LOOK LIKE, so that when you get to them, you’ll know, and you’ll know what to include once you get there.
James Scott Bell, in his equally amazingly awesome book “Plot and Structure”, further breaks down the whole purpose and idea of the Two Doorway novel structure, which is just plain old essential if you want to create a book that actually makes any sense as far as books go. As he says, you can mess around with structure, but be prepared to never sell your novel. (Hey, this is a Boot Camp, we deal in harsh truths here!)
So, the basic skeleton of your novel should go something like this – and notice there are only NINE main sections here, so use the TENTH for your free-for-all:
SECTION ONE: THE INTRODUCTION
1) Introduce readers to all main characters
2) Introduce readers to the world (DO NOT OVERLOAD, however)
3) Illustrate characters’ roles within this world
4) Establish the problem/trouble and the characters’ roles in regards to the trouble/problem
SECTION TWO: THE INCITING INCIDENT or THE FIRST DOORWAY
1) Illustrate what happens so that all involved characters are then unable to return to their normal life, or to the way things were before this incident.
(This is The First Doorway… the characters have crossed a threshold and cannot go back to the way things were, no matter how much they might wish it. They are involved now, they HAVE to continue down the road that will lead to the climax… whatever this event is that drives them through this First Doorway can also be called The Inciting Incident – or at least it can as far as I understand it…)
SECTION THREE: THE FIRST TURNING POINT
1) The initial problem or trouble intensifies for the first time
2) A plot twist or character reveal is ideal here
3) This will be what ends Act 1 and propels both characters and readers into Act 2… so make it GOOD!
4) Leave readers wondering at the end of Act 1: Have the bad guys won already?!? (This can also be thought of as The First Setback)
SECTION FOUR: THE TEMPORARY TRIUMPH (Act 2, Part 1)
1) Events and happenings occur which make both characters and readers believe they are finally getting the upper hand on the bad guys!
2) This can be a physical or emotional (aka Internal or External) triumph, or a mixture of both
3) You need to be sure, however, that this triumph is foreshadowed in some way in Act 1!
4) Make note for possible subplot interplay here, however, subplots are NOT for NaNo, so just leave some crumbs for your Future Self to follow!
SECTION FIVE: THE REVERSAL!!! (Act 2, Part 2)
1) Both characters and readers realize their triumph was temporary and fleeting as the bad guy one-ups them yet again
2) Build tension and conflict like that story-slinging badass you know you are….
SECTION SIX: THE SECOND TURNING POINT or THE SECOND DOORWAY (Act 2, Part 3)
1) This will contain the events that then make the final conflict inevitable (after this, the heroes MUST confront the bad guys, there is no other choice!)
2) The hero’s decisions must ultimately cause this turning point!
3) This event must be foreshadowed as well, either in Act 1 or the 1st half of Act 2!
SECTION SEVEN: THE FINAL OBSTACLE (Act 3)
1) This is the final hurdle the heroes have to overcome before finally reaching the bad guys for the big confrontation
2) Can be internal or external or a mixture of both
SECTION EIGHT: THE CLIMAX!
1) The big showdown between protagonist and antagonist
2) This confrontation must be bigger and badder than any other previous confrontation, of course
3) This is the realization of all the agony and tension and conflict that has been building to this point (whether that was internal or external or both)
SECTION NINE: THE RESOLUTION
1) Show the fall-out from the big climax
2) Tie up any loose ends remaining
3) This should actually be kept relatively short and sweet
That’s all there is to it! Now, you have ONE WEEK, that’s SEVEN ENTIRE DAYS, to plan out the TEN ESSENTIAL SECTIONS of your NaNo Novel!
DO THIS, and avoid shooting yourself in the foot during your 30 days of literary abandon! Avoid curling into the fetal position in the middle of November because your novel is going nowhere and you don’t know what to do! Now you have a PLAN, fellow writer, a MAP TO AWESOMENESS – SO FOLLOW IT!
NO EXCUSES! NO WHINING!