10 October 2012

NaNoWriMo prep: finding a story

It’s still early in October, so there’s still lots of time to get ready for NaNoWriMo. One good way to help prepare is to, you know, come up with a story. Some people do just start writing on November 1st without a plan or even an idea, but having a story before you start will give you a direction.

I’m writing LitFic this year, so my story is sort of...complicated. It’s one of those “Do you want to know what happens or what it’s about?” kind of stories. But I do have a story to get me started.

As you think about how to approach NaNoWriMo, the important thing to remember is that the goal is simply to get you writing. You don’t have to have the plot for the next great American novel. You just need a story to tell. It might be serious or funny or silly or full of plot holes. All you need is a story.

I’m a big advocate for outlines, but I know it’s not everyone’s favorite background work. So instead of an outline, think about Freytag’s Pyramid. The elements are: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement (resolution). If you fill in basic events for each of those elements of Freytag’s Pyramid, you’ll have a basic story for NaNoWriMo. It can be as simple as that.

You may decide you want to sit down on November 1st and just start writing whatever comes to mind. If you do, great. I admire that; I can’t do that. But if you need a starting point, the best place to start is a basic story arc. If you know where you’re starting and where your story is supposed to go, filling in the rest will be easy.

Do you have a story idea for NaNoWriMo already? If so, what is it?


  1. I've never done NanoWriMo, but I'd like to. Unfortunately, November is a really busy month during the school year, so I can't. But good for you for doing it.
    I think NaNoWrimo is great, though, because it motivates a lot of people to start (and keep) writing.

  2. The organization that does NaNo also does "Camp NaNoWriMo" in the summer. You should look into that instead of November!


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