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Writing Tips: No Plot? No Problem

Before I start today’s post I want to announce that I hope to upload Beauty and the Beast to Amazon tonight or tomorrow. Due to Amazon’s publishing system even if it is available tomorrow I might not be able to get the book lined up for a free promo day. Because of that I’m pushing back B&B‘s freebie days by one day. You can plan for it to be available for free on Friday–December 13–and Saturday–December 14.

Ok, on to the fun stuff! I know I just recently did a writing tips entry, but this weekend I checked out a marvelous book from the library and once B&B is launched I will be filling this blog with B&B news. Plus I’m dying to talk about it and if I tried to bring this kind of thing up among my social circle most people would eye me oddly.

The book is called No Plot No Problem, and I cannot recommend it highly enough for new writers. The book is written by the creator of NaNoWriMo–or National Novel Writing Month–and the book focuses on the purpose of NaNoWriMo–writing a novel (50,000 words) in a month. What makes this book so valuable is that single idea.

The author is very upfront in saying that you probably aren’t going to produce the next great American novel by writing a book in one month, but the experience is priceless. I don’t mean to sound discouraging, but the first novel you write is like a set of training wheels. It’s what you learn on, it’s not an example of your finest work. I wrote at least four full length, finished books before I produced anything of worth. I went back and rewrote the punctuation off my earlier stories so they are great products now, but I would rather take a vow to be a hermit than to let you, Champions, read the first drafts of Princess Ahira or Life Reader.

So if you know your first novel is going to be less than stellar, why not write it fast and get it over with? Instead of starting with that Epic Fantasy you’ve been dreaming about for the past five years, write a shorter book that will teach you through experience about the craft of writing. Your dream book will benefit greatly and your rewrites won’t be as painful.

That is not to say your first novel is going to be trash. Lots of people who participate in NaNoWriMo take time to clean up their novels and make them into great books, but no one can deny that your first draft of your first book is basically an experiment. Even if you know that it is still a lot of fun, and I promise you’ll feel accomplished when you finish it.

No Plot No Problem also gives you the tools to figure out how to squeeze writing time into your life, and it talks about the importance of deadlines. In a nutshell, most people don’t write a novel even if they want to because they never give themselves a sense of urgency/looming deadlines. Having a goal will help you make yourself write. I use this method myself. My goal isn’t necessarily to write a novel in a month, but I do try to come up with a word goal for every month. (For instance I’ll say my goal is to write 30,000 or 40,000 words. All of my King Arthur and Her Knights books are typically written in 30ish days.)

No Plot No Problem also has a lot of great advice from people who have participated in NaNoWritMo. They talk about the midway slump, how to keep slogging through, keeping yourself encouraged, and more.

The biggest ideas I want to endorse with this book are 1) write with a deadline and 2) write that  first novel FAST and don’t be ashamed about it. Given that NaNoWritMo is a fairly big phenomena I’m pretty confident you’ll be able to find a copy of this book in your local library system. Find it, read it, embrace it! Believe me, as a writer I want you to succeed. Most people want to write a book, but very few people ever do. No Plot No Problem is a great tool to help you get over that first hurdle, separating you from the want-tos.

Thanks for reading, Champions!

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