NaNo Prep For Non-Planners, Part One: Ideas

November is National Novel Writing Month. If you don’t know what that is, check out their website. This will be my eighth year to participate in this writing challenge. It’s tons of fun, if you’re into this sort of thing.

So far, each year I’ve jumped into this event with little to no plan at all. But this year, I’m doing things different. I’m going to spend a little time planning my novel before I start writing it. I thought it would be fun to invite you along with me.

Whether you’re a planner, or not, now’s the time to get started. And the place to start is generating ideas.

Where do ideas come from?
If you’re a writer, or any other sort of creative person, you know that ideas are out there, sort of floating about in the universe. No one really knows where they come from. You probably also know that those ideas can be a bit elusive, slippery, hard to hold on to sometimes.

Whether you are a NaNo participant or just trying to start a new writing project, here are a few plot generator websites that promise to get your creativity flowing:

  • This story starter site offers a sentence with a character and a scenario as a jumping off place for a new story. Writing for young people? There’s also a story starter version for kids.
  • Or try this Story Idea Generator which is similar to the first story starter site. 
  • This plot generator offers ideas for a variety of creative writing – short stories, films and more. It even breaks things down by genre – fantasy, paranormal romance and more. There’s even a category called Bronte Sisters.
  • Finally, this Random Plot Generator gives you the opportunity to mix and match various story elements – characters, setting, situation, etc – to find a combination that inspires you. 

These options are by no means perfect, but they can be a place to start.

Is my idea big enough for NaNo?
So you have an idea for a novel. Great! Then you sit down to write it only to run out of steam half way through. Ever happened to you?

I have a tiny little idea for a story that came to me a couple of years ago while I was in the middle of writing about three other novels. I wrote the idea down and set it aside. I didn’t have the time to pursue it right then. Now I’ve decided to pull it out for NaNo 2017. But it’s barely an idea. Little more than a character and a beginning.

How then, do you know if an idea is big enough to support an entire novel? Brainstorm. Play with the idea and build on it. Here are some brainstorming techniques that might help you build your idea into a full-size novel idea:

5 Brainstorming Strategies for Writers

Your assignment for NaNo Prep week one
If you’re just taking the first steps to writing your first novel, or if you’re like me, and don’t usually plan ahead for one, I hope you’ve found here some strategies to get started. This week, use the resources and ideas here and find and/or build on your novel idea.

Here are three questions to focus on:

  1. What is your story about?
  2. Where does your story take place?
  3. Who is telling your story?

Use the brainstorming exercises and see if you can come up with the premise, or theme, of your novel. Do the exercises suggest a location or time? Will you write in first person point of view or third person?

Best wishes to you on your noveling adventure! I hope these ideas and resources have been useful to you in some way. Next week, the focus will be on characters. Happy writing!

2 thoughts on “NaNo Prep For Non-Planners, Part One: Ideas

  1. Pingback: NaNo Prep for Non-Planners, Part Two: Characters – TAwrites

  2. Pingback: NaNo Prep for Non-Planners, Part Three: Plot & Structure – TAwrites

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