4 Ways to Pre-plan Your NaNoWriMo Story

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by Jacqui Murray

Few people can sit down and start writing. Most of us hem and haw as we mentally walk through how to get from introduction to conclusion. It’s called ‘prewriting’ and everyone does it. What differs is the method–what best suits our communication style?

Here are four approaches I’ve seen work for writer friends:

 


Brainstorm/Mindmap

Brainstorming, also called ‘mindmapping’, is a visual approach for collecting all the bits of a topic that may find relevance in the fullness of your manuscript. It enables writers to come up with many ideas without worrying about where they fit, leaving that for the writing process.

Here are basics for brainstorming your novel:

  • There are no wrong answers.
  • Get as many ideas as possible.
  • Don’t evaluate ideas–just record them.
  • Build on the suggestions of others (if you’re doing this as part of a critique group or writer’s workshop).
  • Stress quantity over quality–get as many ideas as possible. Sort them later.

There are many online tools that facilitate this process. If you’re looking for a webtool, try InspirationMindMeister, or another from this list. For iPads, try iBrainstorm, Ideament, or another from this list.

 

Timeline

Timelines are graphical representations of a sequence of events over a period of time. Researching and creating timelines appeals to the visual, mathematic, and kinesthetic intelligences in a writer’s mental toolbox. They are critical to developing the story’s temporal flow, making sure events are in the proper order, with necessary scaffolding.

They can be created in:

  • a desktop publishing tool like Publisher or Canva
  • an online tool
  • a spreadsheet program

If you want a webtool, try Piktochart, Canva, or another from this list. If you have an iPad,  try Timeline or another from this list. [ ]

 


Outline

Outlines are a tried-and-true approach to organizing knowledge on a topic. They:

  • summarize important points
  • encourage a better understanding of a topic
  • promote reflection
  • assist analysis

Once a general outline is established, they are a valuable method of curating thoughts on subtopics of a theme.

Outlines can be completed easily and quickly in most word processing programs (using bullet or numbered lists) or a note-taking tool like Evernote or OneNote. Excellent web-based options include OakWorkflowy, or Outliner of GiantsIf you’re an iPad user, try Quicklyst or OmniOutliner.

Digital note-taking

Note-taking not only collects information, but power boosts learning. Consider this from the 2008 Leadership and Learning Center:

In schools where writing and note-taking were rarely implemented in science classes, approximately 25 percent of students scored proficient or higher on state assessments. But in schools where writing and note-taking were consistently implemented by science teachers, 79 percent scored at the proficient level.

Regardless of whether you write fiction or non-fiction, note-taking is an important approach to remembering and activating knowledge. This includes quickly jotting ideas down as well as the extensive note-taking employed during your novel’s research. Doing this digitally allows you to rearrange, edit, and move thoughts into the order best-suited to the writing phase.

There are lots of digital note-taking tools that are both web-based or for iPads. One of my favorites is Notability.

 

 

 

 

Guest post contributed by Jacqui Murray. Jacqui is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman  and is the author/editor of dozens of books on integrating tech into education, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, and Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers. You can find her book on her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.  


ToolboxNeed help with your book or novel? Check out the Writer’s Toolbox, a list of free, discounted, and overall helpful links to tools and benefits to help you with what you do best: writing.


 

 

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10 thoughts on “4 Ways to Pre-plan Your NaNoWriMo Story”

  1. What I have trouble with is the outline. Ugh. I hate doing it, but it would help so much. I guess it’s because my story changes drastically as it gets down on paper (or the web), so the outline doesn’t help at all. I don’t know how to make outlining work for me. 😛

    Like

    1. You know, a lot of times I’ve found an “outline” works better after you get something written. It helps you organize all the thoughts that ended up spilling out of your brain. I use an amazing software for my novels called “Storyist”. It creates an outline of each chapter, and various sections of the chapter, and I can easily move pieces around in the outline, which then actually moves them in the story!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo, but I’m in the process of developing the elements of my first novel, so this article is perfect for me.

    I’m already brainstorming and outlining, but I hadn’t even thought of taking notes. I’ll have to try that.

    Like

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