No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty: A Review

Next month, July 2018, I will be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo – a relaxed version of November’s National Novel Writing Month. In honor of this event (that begins tomorrow!), I decided I should reread Chris Baty’s No Plot? No Problem! and share my review with you.

I love Baty’s irreverent tone. He creates an atmosphere with his writing style that makes you want to believe anything is possible. Even something as crazy as writing 50,000 words in 30 days. But then, he turns around and gives you solid advice on how to make the impossible happen.

As a long time participant and winner of National Novel Writing Month, I’m already a believer, so this book didn’t have to work hard to convince me. Still, it’s a great book for anyone who’s ever considered trying to write a novel. Baty gives a no-nonsense, practical guide on fiction writing, but it’s a lot more than that. This book is more about completing a novel in a month’s time.

Part one of the book focuses on preparing for the month of writing. He gives a variety of tips and tricks learned from experience – things such as recruiting family and friends as accountability partners and stocking up on caffeinated drinks and sweet treats (or whatever else inspires you).

Part two gives a week by week overview of what the month of writing will likely look like. This book will prepare the participant for everything from the fanatical enthusiasm of week one to the pit of despair that is week two.

Baty’s approach is full of good humor that borders on sassy. His emphasis is on creating for yourself an atmosphere of freedom to finally write the story that’s inside you. He talks about “exuberant imperfections” and allowing yourself freedom to write a first draft that isn’t perfect, but it’s whole.

I realize National Novel Writing Month isn’t for everyone. Not everyone writes like this. But for me, it works. The pressure of the looming deadline and the enthusiasm of writing madly with thousands of other writers just works for me. If you’ve ever thought about giving National Novel Writing Month a try, this book is a great field guide stuffed full with practical advice and real-life tips from other writers who have been there and come out the other side.

For the beginning writer just starting out on this adventure, Baty’s book is as good as any as an introduction to fiction writing. Also, for the writer who has been curious about NaNoWriMo, but hasn’t yet convinced himself to try it, this book could be an excellent motivator.

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