Home | NaNoWriMo Preparations

NaNoWriMo Preparations

Posted by: Nicole Amsler | Filed Under Blog Posts, Random Writings | 2 comments 
Oct 29

Excerpts for a presentation I gave at Indy Reads Books on October 28th, 2013.

Plotting 101

Remember:  There is no ONE right way to plan, nor one right way to write a novel.

Story Conventions

Ways to approach outlining:

  • Plot mile markers (where are you going, what route will you take, what are some stops along the way)
  • How are your characters changed? What made them come out on the other side, changed?
  • What’s the problem?
    • Three solutions: 1.) uncommitted, 2.) makes it worse, 3.) works but costs something
  • Write your logline
  • Practice your pitch
  • Craft your synopsis
  • Create your back cover copy

Tapping Into Passion

  • Why do you want to write the story?
  • Write a love letter TO your book
  • What do you bring to the story?

 Story Engineering

        Part one: Setup

        First Plot Point (catalyst)

        Part two: Response

        Pinch Point 1 (usually an antagonist point of view)

        Midpoint contextual shift- new information which changes story

        Part three: Attack

        Pinch Point 2 (again an antagonist point of view)

        Second Plot Point

        Part four: Resolution


Snowflake Method

  1. Write a one-sentence description of your novel. (Summary)
  2. Expand your sentence into a one-paragraph description of the novel, making sure to include a description of the back-story, major complications, and resolution. (Summary)
  3. 3.        Write a one-page summary of each character’s storyline. (Character)
  4. Expand each sentence in your one-paragraph summary (step 2) into a full paragraph. This will yield a one-page summary of your novel. (Summary)
  5. Write a one- page character synopsis for each main character, telling the story from their point of view.  For secondary characters, write a ½ page synopsis. (Character)
  6.  Expand each paragraph from step 4 into a one-page description for each.  (Summary)
  7. Take each character and write a full character description. (Character)
  8. 8.       Take each page from Step 6 and write a one-sentence description of every scene that you will need for each page. (Scene)
  9. Now take each line from your spreadsheet and either write out and print a 1-2 page description of each scene. (Scene)
  10. Write your novel using your detailed synopsis as a guide


Save the Cat

Opening Image – A visual that represents the struggle, tone and conflict of the story.

Set-up –Present the main character’s world as it is, and what is missing in their life.

Theme Stated – What your story is about.

Catalyst – The moment where life as it is changes.

Debate – But change is scary and for a moment, the protag doubts the journey they must take.

Break Into Act Two – The main character makes a choice and the journey begins.

B Story – This is when there’s a discussion about the Theme – the nugget of truth.

The Promise of the Premise –Fun part, when the protag explores the new world and the reader is entertained by the premise promised.

Midpoint –The protag either gets everything they want (“great”) or doesn’t get what want (“awful”). But not everything we think we want is what we actually need.

Bad Guys Close In – Doubt, jealousy, fear, foes regroup to defeat the protag’s goal, and the situation disintegrates.

All is Lost – The opposite moment from the Midpoint: The protag realizes they’ve lost everything they gained, or everything they now have has no meaning. The initial goal now looks even more impossible than before.

Dark Night of the Soul – The main character hits bottom, and wallows in hopelessness.

Break Into Act Three – Thanks to a fresh idea, new inspiration, or last-minute thematic advice from the B Story, the main character chooses to try again.

Finale – The main character incorporates the Theme into their fight for the goal. Synthesis!

Final Image – Opposite of Opening Image, proving, visually, that a change has occurred.


  • Theme:                Lie that is holding the protag back
  • First Act: Reinforce the Lie in the protag’s life
  • First Plot Point:  shows how life might be if he stops believing the Lie
  • 1st Half of Second Act: Protag gets closer to the thing he Wants but not the thing he Needs
  • Midpoint: Begins strong effort toward gaining the thing he Wants
  • 2nd Half of Second Act: Able to act independently of Lie. Moving towards thing he Needs in 2nd Plot Point
  • 3rd Major Plot Point: Must reject the thing he Wants for thing he Needs
  • Third Act:  Low point. Character is remade and begins to rise, adjusting to new paradigm
  • Climax: Attack or battle will throw Lie in the protag’s face. He will fully reject the Lie and embrace the Truth. May earn the thing he Wants as well.
  • Resolution:   Life free of the Lie


NaNo Tips & Tricks

  • Momentum
  • Incentives
  • Delayed Gratification
  • Prep
  • Teamwork

Writing Tips

        XXX marks the spot (use XXXs when you need to research something or make a change later.)

        End in the middle of a passage to keep momentum for when you return to the page

        Use Pinboards for inspiration and notes

        Write ahead. Cram on weekends.

        Create a writing ritual (ie. special tea, lucky socks, fingerless gloves, spin three times before sitting down, writing totem.)


  • Writing implement
  • Backup
  • Outline
  • Timer
  • Notepad
  • Incentives

Further Reading and Resources

For Names:  http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/

For momentum:  www.writeordie.com

Beat Sheet Worksheets: http://jamigold.com/for-writers/worksheets-for-writers/

NaNoWriMo Primer (Beware: strong language):  http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/10/08/nanowrimo-cometh-a-terribleminds-primer/

What’s the Word?:  www.visual.merriam-webster.com and www.onelook.com/reverse-dictionary.shtml

Checkers:  http://prowritingaid.com/ and http://editminion.com/ and http://www.youngadultwriters.com/story-analyzer/

Printouts:  http://www.nowhitespace.org/writing/cheatsheet.pdf and



2 Responses to NaNoWriMo Preparations

  1. Nicole says:

    Thanks for posting! I had never seen the LIE method either but it really put a twist on the understanding of my novel. I like it!

    Good luck on your NaNo novel. I see you have been at it as long as I have. I love the NaNoWriMo community and as a frequent relocator, it is a great way to meet “my people.”

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