Writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days is a great idea—in theory. In reality, it’s probably one of the most difficult writing challenges you could ever take on. It not only tests your skills, but it tests your commitment, your determination, your ability to block out distractions and, most importantly, to finish something you’ve started.
That’s why most writers either never attempt it or they attempt for a couple weeks, get overwhelmed, decide it’s too hard and quit.
Call it fear, call it writer’s block, call it whatever you want. Underlying the entire failure is one thing and one thing only: Not having a plan.
When you have a plan, when you have a direction, it makes the writing process a breeze. In fact, having a plan is so effective it’s an almost-guaranteed way to cross the NaNoWriMo finish line.
And it’s not against the NaNo rules to plan and create an outline beforehand. The rules only say you can’t start writing until November 1. Planning ahead is perfectly legal.
But how do you create a plan?
The Story Road Map
A road map tells you everything you need to know. And it can make all the difference when you’re on the road traveling. It can tell you the stops you need to make—or the cities you need to pass through—to get to your end point.
Without a road map you could end up driving in the wrong direction for two days before you realize you were supposed to make that left turn way back when.
The same goes with writing your novel.
Without a story plan, you might figure out your First Plot Point after you’ve already 25,000 words in, and you won’t want to turn around, so you’ll keep writing, keep telling yourself it doesn’t matter and that you can always edit it later.
But in the end you’ll either quit because you’re overwhelmed and your story is confused, or cross the finish line and then never touch the manuscript again.
And isn’t that a tragedy?
If you’re going to spend all that time writing all those words, you want them to be words you can do something with. Don’t you?
A story road map will keep you on track with your novel, which will help you stick with the writing.
“With the Story Road Map workshop, I was able to walk through the different phases of my novel and be ready to write when November 1st rolled around. I hit the 50,000-word mark with three days to spare and ended up writing close to 60,000 words before writing THE END. If you’re looking for someone to help you put some structure to your thoughts, I would highly recommend Jennifer’s Story Road Map workshop.”–Kerry
If you’re ready to get serious about writing your novel, it’s time to get planning. And that planning starts with my Story Road Map workshop.
Pay What You Can
Because I want to help as many writers as possible plan their novels before they write them in November, I’m offering this workshop at a Pay-What-You-Can above $30 price this year.
You decide how much this workshop is worth to you and your writing. Then click the “Add to Cart” button below and name your price.
This workshop is full and is now closed until September 2013.
What The Workshop Entails
Together we’ll work through your story structure and make sure it’s solid. We’ll make sure the stakes are high and the conflict is rising. And we’ll build out a road map that includes the basic scenes you’ll need to get from plot point to plot point when you’re writing.
You decide how detailed you want to get with the planning. The more detailed, the easier it will be to write your story in 30 days.
“I thought it was useful to go through the [Story Road Map workshop] process even though I don’t usually work that way. Through this workshop process, I discovered that my story was kind of lean and didn’t have enough issues. It was more of a short story idea and would need a lot more brainstorming to make it a novel. That saved me from having yet another unfinished manuscript.”–Cathy
Here’s how the 4-week workshop will go down:
Week One: Story Milestones
During this week, we’ll dive into:
- Your Story Elevator Pitch—you should be able to tell someone what your story is about in 1-2 sentences. A concise, descriptive elevator story pitch will make it easier to know exactly what needs to happen in your story.
- The First Plot Point—the most important moment of your entire story; so important that if you get it wrong, you can pretty much plan on rewriting your entire draft.
- The Story Set Up—what’s your story hook? what are you going to set up before the First Plot Point? How will you foreshadow what’s to come? How will you introduce your protagonist and show the world he/she lives in currently?
- The Midpoint—the point of the story where the curtain parts on the antagonist; readers finally know who is pulling the dramatic strings and why. What’s your story’s midpoint? And how does it shift the context of your story going forward?
- The Second Plot Point—the final bit of new information to enter your story; it’s the point of your story that pushes the protagonist to become the hero the story needs in order to come to a conclusion. What’s your story’s second plot point? And what new information does it give?
- Two Pinch Points—the two points within your story where the reader is reminded of the nature and implications of the antagonistic force; do you have two compelling pinch points in mind?
Week Two: Strengthening Your Characters
Now that your story structure is in place, it’s time to shape up your cast of characters with:
- Backstory—you need to know the complete backstory for every important character in your novel. Do you have to use all that backstory in the novel? Absolutely not. In fact, you should only reveal what’s needed to make the story work—about 10 percent of the full backstory. But even though you don’t need to use it all, you still need to know it all.
- Inner Demons—everyone has inner demons; the inner demon is the internal force that is holding your protagonist back in the story. In order to complete your protagonist’s character arc, you must demonstrate him/her overcoming these inner demons.
- Motivations/Stakes—for a character to be successful he/she needs to have motivation and stakes in the story. Readers need to know why the character wants what he/she wants and the stakes involved in getting it.
Weeks Three and Four: Creating Your Story Road Map
Once you’ve got your story structure and characters figured out, it’s time to create your road map. This includes:
- A working document for your novel—this will be the writing road map you will follow when writing your novel in November (or whenever you decide to write it)
- Scene planning—figuring out the basic scenes you need to make it from plot point to plot point is the best way to know exactly what needs to happen in your story and when.
- Restructuring—once you have your scenes figured out, then you can begin the restructure process where you review each scene to determine if it’s necessary, how it moves the story forward and if that’s really the best location for it within the narrative.
How The Story Road Map Workshop Works
Here’s how we’ll work together each week:
1. As soon as you register, you’ll receive your worksheets and instructions for what to do via email. You will complete the exercises, do the brainstorming and get your notes together.
You will have a deadline for when you need to turn your assignments into me. (You will receive a schedule of deadlines once you register.)
2. Once you turn each week’s assignment in, you will receive back via email notes from me that will help you clarify your story plan and characters. As long as you turn your work in on deadline, you will get my feedback returned within 2 days. (If you’re late, it might take me longer because the people who were on time get priority.) This will help you stay accountable for getting the work done.
3. You will have unlimited email access to me during the entire four-week workshop—so if you get stuck or have a question while you’re planning, you can ask me right away (I check my email throughout the day via my iPhone).
At the end of the 4 weeks, you will have a detailed road map that will tell you exactly what you need to write.
“I enjoyed the workshop and it was helpful to learn about story structure so I knew how to go about plotting my novel. Having a deadline and knowing that I had to send completed worksheets [to the instructor on a deadline] made me feel more accountable, and therefore I was able to make myself get everything done.”–Meghan
Who Is This Workshop For?
This workshop is for anyone who:
- Wants to have a fully developed story plan before writing their NaNoWriMo novel
- Needs help figuring out what their story is about and how to get from point A to point B
- Has the commitment to stick with it and complete the story plan
The best part is the process you work through during this workshop will help you plan all the rest of the novels you write throughout your writing career.
A Quick Recap
Here’s a quick overview of the details involved in this workshop:
Cost: Pay-What-You-Can above $30
Start Date: The day you register; registration runs from now-Sept 30
Workshop Location: Virtual (everything is done via email)
Weekly Module Releases:
- When you register you will receive Introduction instructions and worksheets.
- A week later you’ll receive Week 1 instructions and worksheets.
- A week later you’ll receive instructions and worksheets for Week 2.
- A week after that you’ll receive them for Weeks 3 and 4 (they’re combined weeks).
- Throughout the workshop you’ll have unlimited email access to me if you want to ask a question, bounce around ideas or just need some more guidance.
For whatever you can afford to pay, you can get the guidance you need to put together a story plan before NaNoWriMo starts on November 1. If this is the year you write your novel, let it also be the year you learn the importance of having a plan.
This workshop is full and is now closed until September 2013.
The doors to this virtual workshop close Sunday September 30.