I hear you, lovely. Jamae, several NaNoWriMo posts are already floating around in literary space.
Starting out, I wrote myself into several dead ends in my first novel Shifting Shades. During those kinks, working on a combination of prewriting resources helped push me to the end of a full draft.
Whether you’re a plotter who starts out with prewriting first or a pantser like me who needs a way to write yourself out of a full stop, the following is a compilation of novel writing resources that led me to a strong story.
- Authentic Writing from Hint of Jam
- The Plotting Workshop from Ninja Writers
- Novel Outline from She’s Novel
- One-Page Novel Outline from Eva Deverell
- Day-by-Day NaNoWriMo Outline from Better Novel Project
- 100 cards Exercise from Chapter after Chapter
Although some of these resources may not suit you or maybe you might use ’em differently, the purpose is to find the ones that help you reach your NaNoWriMo goal. Feel free to pick and choose. This is your buffet. Adjust as needed.
1.) Authentic Writing
As a pantser, I like to start with authentic writing, which I explain in detail here. After emptying my heart and mind of all the images that bubble up of their own accord, I then backtrack to the prewriting resources to help me fill in the gaps.
However, in preparation for #NaNoWriMo2016, I’m taking a bit of a different approach by actually prepping. Gasp! Yes, you heard right. I’m preparing for the 50k ahead instead of fully pantsing it, but the resource I’ve used to stay true to my pantsing spirit while still having a solid path to follow is . . .
2.) The Plotting Workshop from Ninja Writers
After my friend Haley from Whatever Bright Things recommended Ninja Writers, I was instantly drawn to The Plotting Workshop. From the What Is a Plot? website, Shaunta says, “This class was specifically designed for writers who have been pantsers and want a little more structure, while maintaining flexibility and intuitiveness in their stories.” That’s me!
But even if you consider yourself a plotter, this workshop will give you the chance to explore the realms within each act of your story. Plus, the 8-week course arrives in your inbox at no cost. Win-win!
As of today, I’m on week 2 but have gone through 14 assignments. Say whaaaaat? Maybe my forever student mentality automatically thrives on the idea of homework, but fear not! The assignments are all about exploring your story world and will guide you through each stage. And you can take it at your own pace.
3.) Novel Outline from She’s Novel
THIS. The She’s Novel Novel Outline is all the yes, friends. Kristen gives you a full outline with a detailed explanation you can follow along in her blog post to build a firm foundation for your work. From genre to character sketches, she covers them all. You can use the worksheets as printouts or as a guide for digital notes (which is my preferred method through Evernote. Go green!).
4.) One-Page Novel Outline from Eva Deverell
When you couple Kristen’s and Eva’s outlines, you have a double whammy of awesomeness. As a pantser, the One-Page Novel Outline keeps my story from going too haywire (which it does all the time, and that’s totally fine). Eva’s outline focuses on the story’s plot using an eight step process. Although she uses a steampunk example to illustrate, the outline can be modified to suit the genre you’re writing. For my urban fantasy, the skin fit well.
5.) Day-by-Day NaNoWriMo Outline from Better Novel Project
See a pattern? (Outline, outline, outline.) This one’s more geared towards YA, but I’ve used it on my NA novel. Works like magic. The Day-by-Day NaNoWriMo Outline is a composite of the important scenes in a novel from start to finish. And Christine lays out each scene for all thirty days of NaNoWriMo. All you have to do is refer back to your outline and call the scene to mind as you engage in authentic writing.
In addition, Christine just released the Day-by-Day NaNoWriMo Outline: Characters and Themes Edition. This is an opportunity to switch between focusing on scenes and character / theme development, depending on what works best for you on that particular day.
6.) 100 Cards Exercise from Chapter after Chapter
You can use the exercise in Chapter 8 of Chapter after Chapter to fill in the blanks from what you began working on through Better Novel Project’s outline. On each index card in your stack of 100, you’ll write instructions for the general direction of each scene.
Which characters will be present? What’s each character’s goal? Where are they at? What will they do? The cards act like prompts specifically geared towards your story. In this way, you don’t have to hunt for writing prompts ’cause your index cards are already telling you what needs to get done.
Feel a little daring? SHUFFLE THEM, pick one at random, then write. 😉
Many, many more NaNoWriMo resources are out there, but this particular strategy mix works for me at present.
You can decide at what point in your journey you’d like to use your bouquet of resources for your novel — before writing or towards the middle when you’ve written yourself into a plot hole . . . or two. (Hey, I’ve been there. We’re in a no judgement zone, okay?)
Use the strategies that fuel your awesome story forward. Whatever you do, see it to completion. The world needs your words.
Go on, lovely. Get to it.
If you’re participating in or have ever participated in NaNoWriMo, write “You know it!” in the comments below and share your username so we can buddy up. 😀 Happy writing, warrior!