#NaNoPrep 7: Plan Your Assault

Step 1: Do not go away for a week on the 24th of October.

But if you do, it’s not the end of the world. You just need to make sure you find a little bit of space to, for instance, write your blog posts on preparing for NaNo.

Now, there are two ways to do NaNo, which are Planning and Pantsing The official blog explains it so much better than I can, but basically a planner plans and a pantser doesn’t. The only way to get through the month is to do what works for you. If you’re a pantser, you can stop reading at this point and come back for the next blog entry.

I can’t pants it. I have tried in the past, and I lose steam in the middle of the month. The words stop, because I don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing. If I know how I want the story to end but not how I’m going to get there, it’s actually worse than starting out with no plan at all, because I feel like it’s not doing what it should be doing.

Again, different things work for different people, but there are some simple methods that should help anyone.

The Eight Point Arc is a useful story structure. It’s more detailed than the five point (for obvious reasons), but not so detailed that it pushes you in a particular direction, or that you can miss a step by accident. Once I know the direction of my stories, I like to grab the arc and fill in the gaps. I may have the Stasis and then nothing before the Critical Choice, but until I attach the plot points to a label I don’t actually know which bit is which, and therefore don’t know what’s missing. Once it’s all laid out I can see where I need a catastrophic argument to send my characters towards the climax, or where one of them needs to switch sides.

With those laid out, I can actually break each section down into its own eight point arc, if I so wish, and then I’ve got 64 individual events, ready to be grouped into scenes and chapters and acts, and then plugged into my layout of choice. For me, that’s WriteWay, which makes that layout the simplest thing in the world.

Other ways of figuring out your plot can includes doing a timeline of events (a bad idea for me, as a) I need a wider view and b) go through the timeline in such detail that I no longer want to write the story), mapping out the route of the characters’ journey, or doing a full storyboard. Since I found the eight point arc, though, I’ve not looked back.

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