NaNo 2015 — Simple Outlining for Successful NaNo-ing

Hello writers!

NaNoWriMo 2015 is right around the corner — 5 days and counting by my calendar. How is your prep coming?

Over on the forums, we’ve worked on one-sentence summaries of our novels and then moved on to basic outlining. For us creative types, outlining or ‘planning ahead’ can sometimes get a bad rap but I’m a big believer in the process of thinking through your story. When you have a short and punishing deadline, like the one coming up in November, it’s incredibly helpful to have some signposts to guide you along your way. Outlines can be short and sweet, like the assignment I gave in the forums, or incredibly detailed like the popular “Snowflake Method“, which drills your story down level by level until you’re left with essentially a per-scene guide from the beginning to end of your book.

But unless you have a lot of time on your hands, I would suggest not bogging yourself down with a monster task like the Snowflake. One of the surest ways to put off actually writing is to busy yourself pre-writing. With NaNo about to begin, I’d advise keeping your outlining flexible and easy.

Not on the forums? Here’s a glimpse of my outlining assignment:

For the purposes of this challenge, we’re looking to create the most basic of outlines – you’re going to identify what your story arc is, and then break it up into its basic three act structure. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, the three acts are The Setup, The Confrontation, The Resolution. It’s a formula found in in screenwriting, in novels, in comics, and in tv shows. You’re likely familiar with the beats of it even if you didn’t know the exact terminology.


Don’t forget — in order to join us in the forums and participate in the prep exercises, you need to register as a user. If you’re not a member already, sign up here and include a note with your application that you’ll be participating in NaNo 2015. We’ll fast track you through the approval process.

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