National Novel Writing Month, “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing”, challenges you to write 50,000 words during the month of November. My head in the fog of nonstop bad news reports and squeezed in the chaos of the 2020 Presidential election, I nearly forgot all about NaNoWriMo this year. The entire event would have slipped by unnoticed if not for a recent spike in sales of my plot and scenes books for writers. Ah, ha! Writers are preparing for NaNo. The idea formed for NaNoWriMo with a Twist.
NaNoWriMo was the brainchild of Chris Baty as a way to encourage people to write a novel in a month. He invited people to simply write – “No plot? No problem.” For those of you who find writing without a plan daunting, might I suggest you go ahead with NaNoWriMo … with a twist.
Rather than end the month with a whole lot of words and not much of a story, use the remainder of October to pre-plot for November. In other words, stretch your imagination now. Come up with at least the four major turning points or Energetic Markers in every great story for your novel.
Each of the four equal parts of a story – the beginning, the light middle, the dark middle, the end – has its own energetic marker that defines that part. So long as you have an idea, no matter how vague, of what your main character does or what happens to her at each of those major turning points, come November you start NaNoWriMo with a twist — beginning the month with a plan and the start of a plot.
During each of the four weeks in November, write one part. Even having pre-plotted, go ahead and write by the seat of your pants to your heart’s content. Simply remember to see that by the last day of every week, your character arrives at the right place at the right time for that part’s Energetic Marker. Each part has its own particular parameters to help keep you on track. For help pre plotting the four parts and the four energetic markers for your story:
If you’ve attempted NaNo in the past and never achieved your goal, might I suggest you undertake NaNo while, at the same time, following the exercises in Boundless Creativity: A Spiritual Guide for Overcoming Self-Doubt, Emotional Traps, and Other Creative Blocks. Use the structural tension created by the one-month deadline to confront what stands in your way.
That way, if all goes well, at the end of November, our country and the world will have started the healing process toward a bright future and you have a rough draft of your novel. Best of all, at the end of the month, you’ve also freed yourself of your demons, and seized the prize.