NaNo Prep for Non-Planners, Part Three: Plot & Structure

November is nearly here, and soon it will be time to begin writing this novel you’ve been prepping for this month. So far, you have a story idea you’re ready to run with and you’ve created some fantastic characters who are ready to tell your tale. Now, let’s put all this into a form, or structure. Here are some ideas about how to do that.

Two classic story structures
Two classic story structures are the Three Act Structure and The Hero’s Journey. While these aren’t the only ways to structure a novel, they are time tested methods, and work well for most any story you want to tell.

Others have already explained how to use these structures, and done a far better job than I could. See these posts for:

Your final NaNo prep assignment
We’re down to the final week before NaNoWriMo begins. You’re assignment this week is to begin putting together an outline if you haven’t already done so. Use one of the plot structures above, or simply write up a timeline of key moments in your novel.

As you work, consider the backstory of each of your most important characters. What elements of your characters’ past are relevant to the story you want to tell? Do the hero and the villain share a history? What sins in your hero’s past life might create greater conflict in the current situation?

Take a look back at the premise you wrote in week one. Now that you know your characters better and have a better idea where your story is going, does this premise still apply? Or has it changed? Rewrite this sentence if you need to. Now, post your sentence in your favorite writing place, brew yourself a pot of coffee, or tea, or whatever and get ready to write!

One last thought on NaNo Prep: Research
Originally, I had planned a fourth NaNo prep post on research, but I’ve run out of time. So I’ll include a bit of it here.

Are there things you need to know about your world before you begin writing? Are you writing historical fiction? Or a science fiction novel set on an alien planet or space ship? Learn what you need to know about your time period, or the technology critical to your plot. Spend some time this week finding answers to questions that have come up in your planning process so far. This will save you from losing precious writing time later.

Here are a couple of articles about research for fiction writers:

It is really easy to get lost in research, so take care to spend your time wisely on the most critical elements of your story. Once November arrives, avoid research unless it’s absolutely essential in order to continue. Make notes for yourself instead, and go back later to answer the questions that arise while drafting.


Ready or not, NaNoWriMo will be here before we know it. I hope this little series of posts has been helpful, or at least useful in kick-starting some ideas about the novel you want to write. Best of luck on your noveling adventure!

Happy writing!

One thought on “NaNo Prep for Non-Planners, Part Three: Plot & Structure

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

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