BOOK REVIEW (34): No Plot? No Problem!

No Plot? No Problem!
So I may have decided to enter the NaNo run this year.
Okay, I did. I decided to enter. I’ve even created a novel right here.
So of course this wasn’t a whimsical decision. Nooooo way. I learned my lesson back in 2012 after jumping in on NaNo thinking I could write.
Maybe I could have actually completed my novel that month two years ago, but then maybe I wouldn’t be sitting here having had any reason to start this blog. These posts are might to document my writing journey off-and-on, but this last year I only recently realized it’s just probably something I need to do. It’s become a great place to publically announce goals and then fiercely do everything to reach them and avoid THE INTERNET SHAME. (‘Cuz real life isn’t that shaming apparently.)
But I decided to enter NaNo and before I made my decision I hashed out some hard questions and then hashed out some even harder answers. Like, why did I fail in 2012? And what motivated me to avoid attempting it in 2013?
Well I didn’t like the answers because they presented realities, such as it was plain cowardice that drove me to quit that first day in 2012 and never try in 2013. Also plotting!
Ah-ha! I’ve already mentioned—or hinted at—my dislike for plotting. Actually it’s not even mere liking or disliking, it’s a problem of fearing to plot. As if I might completely destroy my passion for the story when I find gaping holes of plot, bitter clichés and deus-ex machina prancing through my idea.
And that’s how I ‘pantsed’ both versions of Bad-Blooded Billionaire.
I don’t want to do this for NaNo. I need to plot. Lest I risk being driven insane by my internal editor…because she has a knack to do things like that…
So I did what any sane writer would do, I got myself some outside resource to help approach plotting. Because, hello!, how does one plot?
Should I write pages and pages—almost a novel worth of outlining, or should I just…well, just what?
Enter NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty’s No Plot? No Problem!
And I can say with total confidence that this book is a really great resource tool. Albeit designed specifically for NaNo, the tips he gives can be used by any writer at the start of the first draft.
And although I really loved reading it—at least the first part (the second part is on lockdown for now because Baty set it up for readers to use the book to follow along with each week of actual NaNoing)…still I found I disagreed with some points based off of my own writing style/preferences. Style and preferences I found only after finishing two MSS.
No Plot? No Problem! has a lot of point form notes that are placed alongside advice and experiences noted from NaNo winners interviewed by Baty. Here’s a sample of this advice, and by on opinions on it:
Don’t wait for inspiration to strike at a particular day. Don’t set deadlines to publish, set a deadline to write—a reasonable one. If you decide to use NaNo to kick start a novel then great! So as long as your plan is to stick it through to the end, it could take several years. But also understand that the perfect novel doesn’t = a certain amount of time. Some stories will probably seem to write themselves, where as other require you to edit/revise until you’re sure you killed the story.
Writing trajectory after two novels does not agree with Chris Baty’s perspective. And since both of these two finished MSS of mine were novel months, I think I can safely presume I’ll have an uphill journey. The first week (particularly those first few days) will be the hardest. Why? Because I tend to wig out over words—I’m also unused to the addition of responsibility. Like an extra ball has been thrown into the loop and I have to make sure the other—very few!—balls I’m juggling don’t fall.
Plot WILL come. It will. Unlike the Second Coming which is…well, still on hold, plot is sure to come. Something will happen as you write, even if you have no clue what you’re doing in the start. If you keep at it you’ll find your characters’ separate motivations/goals will conflict with each other = BOOM! You have internal/emotional conflict. But perhaps external conflict if that character actually is a body of judges in a kyriarchy government and they’re all targeting you, trying to flush your Robin Hood organization out.
I wouldn’t call writing a “low-stress” hobby or career—anyone who has written a book, regardless of its being a month-long adventure or not would probably tell you that they had at least one point of really high levels of stress. I would amend this to calling writing a ‘high-stress, but higher reward’ hobby/career.
One of those rewards is writing for the sake of writing—that the writing will…take over. Even if you choose never to write a novel again after a NaNo run…or a NaNo jump start to a novel that might take you a more time to finish, as Baty puts it writing your “own manuscript, [he] also found [himself[ able to appreciate [his] favorite books on a different level”.
The first part of the two parts in the how-to text is split into four chapters covering topics like snacking/meals during the month-long writing retreat, generating music lists for your WIP, brief researching tips, plotting and pre-writing that doesn’t overwhelm the story, writing in groups and the use of negative and positive reinforcement—I really like the idea of betting with others over word sprints—and all in order to avoid being the “one day” novelist for…well, one day more.
Setting back your dreams until they never happen for a tomorrow that will never come not only drains you of energy, but I believe one of the things writers all share in common is the need to want to write a story? Whether that story comes fully to us, or in separate chunks that gather like pieces of a Frankenstein monster: write now and not tomorrow.


Okay, maybe not now, but if you already started the novel use NaNo to finish! Use the community, donate to the site and always above all, have fun.
I’ll be going in-depth with PART TWO of the post for this review. And, yes, I’m planning another writing series during the 30-day fiasco. I’ll be doing weekly write-ins because I went to take away the experience of community and I’ll do a chapter-by-chapter of the second part. I haven’t touched the chapters for each week, and I’m taking Baty’s word that the advice in there will get me through the hump…
I’ll share what I can and hopefully we’ll all cross whatever finish line we set out to cross, whether that’s 50K in a month or 100K or maybe just adding and finishing up a novel you’ve already started.
It’s all about quantity in November, not necessarily quality.
EDIT: I just realized that I didn’t give this a rating. Given that this is one-half of the review–i didn’t finish reading the book–I’ll leave it for an overall rating once I’m done NaNoWriMo. (You know, if I actually compete.)

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