NaNoWriMo for Newbies – Part 4, Outlining

Brace Yourselves

Unfortunately, because of a computer breaking only a month after I got it I MEAN SERIOUSLY WTF A MONTH??? malfunction this post is coming a little late, but better late than never, right? Write. (Heh, see what I did there?)

So, for me, outlining is simple. Very simple. I was taught rigorous outlining methods in middle school for our research papers. Here was the basic format:

I. Something
A. Something more.
B. Something even more.
1. Oh lala, more detail.
a. more detail about that detail
b. Ron Walrus for president 4030
2. And you gotta have at least two for each section with more detail
a. dunno
b. why
i. stupid
ii. rule
II. Something else.

Obviously, to do it with that method you just have to make the roman numerals into chapters and break down everything in the chapter. That’s what I usually do, that way I can know what happens when and look right to the next thing when I need to write on, with the roman numerals and the letters having the real action and the smaller ones having the detail I came up with when planning the scene. I did NaNoWriMo with an outline like this one year and it was the easiest NaNo I’ve ever done, hands down. Need to get ahead on your word count? Your next scene is right there. All the detail is right there, all in chronological order.

Now some of you, myself included, either don’t have time for such detail or can’t come up with so much on the spot for plot ideas. Well, that’s fine too. This year I’m going a general outline, which just looks like this.

  • Wild meets the outlaws and agrees to be the princess.
  • The Queen finds Wild and wants to behead her, but the King doesn’t. Says they need her.
  • Wild tries to sneak out but can’t find the outlaws.

Basically like that. Just all the points I can think of now, without assigning them to a chapter or putting significance in the bullet. I wrote it out (though those of you who don’t have to run to the computer lab for computer access may want to type it) and left spaces in-between bullets for new ideas that came to mind. I just bulleted my way from start to finish, though there’s an easier way to do that for those of you who are terrible at outlining.

Fill out these:

  • What happens to start the story off?
  • What is happening in the middle?
  • What happens to set off the final events?
  • How does it end?

Once you answer those, fill out the points between them, even if you don’t know anything. If you know that MC and his love interest will hook up in the second half, put that in there. Will the MC see a bad omen in the first half? Slide that in. Any ideas you take the time to write down will help you when you’re stuck and you don’t know what to write. It’ll make everything so much easier if you have some sort of outline, even if it’s just a general direction of where you want each chapter to go.

Next time I will be covering general tips for reaching 50,000 words (assuming my head doesn’t implode from the stress of not having a computer).

If you missed it, part one on plot was here, part two on your main character was here, part two and a half on your love interest was here, and part three on your subplots was here.

NaNoWriMo for Newbies – Part 3, Subplots

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Okay, so the picture is completely unrelated, but I found it on the NaNo page on Facebook and I think it perfectly sums up how it feels to be a writer.

Anyways, today I’ll be talking about subplots. So, here’s all we’ve got so far with parts 1 through 2 1/2:

My story is about a fun-loving girl who needs to keep her secret hidden in order to continue impersonating the princess until the real one is found. When Wild meets Daviat, she thinks he’s boring and rude. Then, he’s assigned to guard her at all times, and they are forced to put up with each other.  Daviat proves his love when he runs away from the castle with Wild to protect her.

So, it’s hard to distinguish what is plot and what is subplot, so I’m going to call it safe and say that both the romance and impersonating the princess counts as the main plot, because they’re really tied to each other, and I can’t have one without the other. To keep things interesting, you need a subplot. Or two. Or six. Really, this being NaNoWriMo, I’m not going to tell you how many you can have (especially since my novel Kiss of The Fey has more than a few, though they are tiny) but here is a quote from another blog on the matter:

That being so, here is my formula for the maximum number of subplots, by word count, you can have in your novel (a novel being a minimum of 60,000 words).
60k words: 1 subplot (e.g., in a category romance, you might have the female Lead plotline, and the love interest plotline, which intersect)
80k: 2-3
100k: 3-4
Over 100 k: 5
James Scott Bell

So, since NaNoWriMo’s goal is 50,000 words we’ll focus on one subplot today. Because I like them so much, here’s another fill in the blank:

While (MC) (blanks), (blank) happens to (character). (Character) must (blank) to make things right.

Yes, that’s very vague, but there is so much room for subplots that it’s hard to narrow down. I’m not trying to give you ideas, but to help you translate your imagination into a paragraph you can work on to write you novel.

Here’s my fill in the blank:

While Wild learns to be a princess, the real princess is taken by the kidnappers and kept as a hostage. The real princess must survive the savage band of barbarians if she ever wants to see her family again.

Again, it’s not exact, just a general guideline. This is a reminder that there are adoptable in the NaNoWriMo forums, so if you still can’t think of a plot, a character, or a subplot, you can snatch one from over there. Here’s another example of how a subplot would fit into the fill in the blank: While MC fights the villain, she begins seeing a dark figure lurking out of the corner of her eyes. She must find the source of this shadow before she can hope to send the villain back to the dark realm. (If you want that plot, you can have it. It was from the adoptable.) 

I hope that helped some of you. Next time I will be covering outlining, and then there will be one post on general tips for reaching 50,000 words.

If you missed it, part one on plot was here, part two on your main character was here, and part two and a half on your love interest was here.

NaNoWriMo For Newbies – Part 2 ½, Your Love Interest

As you can see, I’ve labeled this as part 2 ½ because I know that many of you aren’t writing romance. That’s fine. Tune back in for part three, but for those of you who want to put that spark into your writing, this is the place to be. (If you missed it, part one, the plot is here and part two, your MC is here.)

Alright, so your MC is going to fall in love with this love interest, who’ll be called Squishy from this point on. If you’re writing a romance, you likely considered Squishy when writing your plot from part one. However, you might not have. I didn’t:

My story is about a fun-loving girl who needs to keep her secret hidden in order to continue impersonating the princess until the real one is found.

Because there are other elements in my story, there’s no hint of romance in it. So we need another fill in the blank.

When MC meets (Squishy) he/she thinks (blank). Then, (blank) happens and they (blank).

That’s very broad, but here’s how I would apply it to my story:

When Wild meets Daviat, she thinks he’s boring and rude. Then, he’s assigned to guard her at all times, and they are forced to put up with each other.

Clearly, just from that sentence you can see a plot emerging. Wild is fun-loving, but Daviat is a stick in the mud. He guards her to keep her in line while she’s impersonating the princess, and you can think of all the situations where they could connect since they’re together 24/7.

Here’s another fill in the blank to be applied to the second act of your novel (or at least it shouldn’t happen in the beginning if you’re writing a romance):

(Squishy) proves his/her love when he/she (blanks) for (MC).

My example: Daviat proves his love when he runs away from the castle with Wild to protect her.

Once you’ve completed that, here are some general romance tips:

  • If your main genre is romance, you need subplots. You can’t have an entire novel of MC and Squishy falling in love.
  • Avoid love triangles, please.
  • No matter what genre you’re writing, your characters CANNOT fall in love instantly unless they acknowledge that it is way too sudden but they can’t stop it OR you’re using as a plot device in YA like, “Oh silly teenager you think you’re in love.” By taking out the slow progression of romance, you’re killing the genre.

Anyways, I hope this helped! Part three will be sub-plots!

NaNoWriMo for Newbies – Part One, The Plot

So you wanna write a novel, huh? In one month? I mean, you’re crazy, but alright, I’ll give you a few tips. I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo for four years now, and I only lost once (and it was only because my personal life when crazy during November). With my vast knowledge, I’ve decided to write short tips through now till November to help some of your newbies along.

The month of November is full of writing madly to reach 50,000 words, but October is for planning. The most important thing to plan is your plot. You can’t write without it.

For now, we’re not going to outline or go into any details, we’re just going to figure out the basics. So, what is going to happen? Gunfights, romance, Jumanji? Fill out the following sentence:

My story is about a (blank) who needs to (blank) in order to (blank).

Example: My story is about a fun-loving girl who needs to keep her secret hidden in order to continue impersonating the princess until the real one is found.

Fill out your own and write it somewhere. Feel free to expand on it, but you don’t have to go beyond that just yet. This is all for now.

Until next time!