In yesterday’s ROW80 post I was talking about how much I’d achieved during my preparation for NaNo, and someone asked me if I’d talked about how I’ve been going about my plotting for NaNo. I was planning to write this post on Friday, but I realised it might be more useful for me to post it NOW instead of the night before NaNo begins. Obviously everyone approaches plotting and prepping differently, but this might help out a few of you!
For the first time this year I have been using the snowflake method. Well, sort of. More like an abridged snowflake method/general prepping/regional forum discussions method*. Links for snowflaking are pretty easy to find, so I’ll just go over how I’ve gone about it here, using parts of my plot as an example (because I still need a title and I’m hoping all your writery brains will be able to help!) The underlined sentences are the ones that went on to form the next section (you’ll see what I mean).
Step 1: The basics.
My novel summarised in…
1 word: Decisions.
3 words. Love or duty.
1 sentence: When a young man unexpectedly becomes the leader of an uprising against his government, he may be forced to choose between his duty, or his love.
This gives you the starting point. You now have a sentence.
Step 2: Use this sentence to create a paragraph (max 4 sentences) that explains your plot.
1 paragraph: Taneka, like the rest of the empire, is rocked by riots and talks of civil war, but Rolando is more focused on his future with Nette. When his family history sweeps both of them into the underground uprising planning on overthrowing the government, their future together changes dramatically. As he embarks on a journey to fulfil his duty, Nette follows, refusing to be pushed out of his life by those around him. Once they reach the capital however, it becomes clear that perhaps Nette’s decision to follow Rolando was the most dangerous decision of all.
Step 3: From here, I expanded each sentence of my paragraph into a paragraph (max 4 sentences). This basically gives you a synopsis of your plot. I won’t share all of it because spoilers and length, but here is paragraph 1:
Rioting throughout the major cities has pushed the empire to breaking point in the east, leaving Taneka in the west the final outpost for the empire. In Taneka, the Council retains control through brutally putting down any riots, forcing discontent for the regime underground. Whilst Rolando’s friends busy themselves with secret meetings and strange symbols, Rolando is more focused on creating a future with Nette, the love of his life. As Rolando’s friends increasingly try to pull them into their underground world, Rolando and Nette dream of peace and their future, despite Rolando’s past.
Step 4: Once you have your synopsis (4 paragraphs, around 16 sentences), break each sentence down into another paragraph. This will make your chapter outline (so each sentence is a chapter). So, sentence 1 from my synopsis becomes:
The Council receives word that cities across the empire have begun to riot against the government, threatening the empire’s already fragile control. A riot is organised in Rolando’s town to join multiple occurring across the empire, but is halted when they receive word that soldiers have been sent out to subdue rioters. Nette wants to go out to the villages to help care for those injured by soldiers during rioting, but Rolando advises her that it may be dangerous. News reaches the town that the empire has collapsed, but that the Council is still holding power in Taneka.
Step 5: You can either stop here if you feel that gives you enough information, or do what I’m currently doing, which is break each chapter down into detailed chapter notes (scenes), and then even further if you want, with a paragraph for each scene. So you’d end up with around 16 sentences per chapter, which is pretty detailed!
It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s a relatively easy process and really helps you work out your plot. I have about 2,000 words of plot notes so far, which I know will be SO helpful when NaNo actually begins!! I did all of this in a few hours over the weekend. Before that I spent most of Thursday afternoon/evening doing it all for my earlier plan for NaNo, which I then realised what way too broad and what I actually wanted to do was explore Rolando’s background prior to the events of Rebellion.
So that’s basically how I’ve been prepping for NaNo. I’ll have some more NaNo-y tips throughout the week, so let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to cover!
Also, if after reading this you have any ideas for a title for my NaNo novel, let me know in the comments! 😀 If you want to be writing buddies on the NaNo website, I’m there as RachelAlsoWrites 🙂
*This was suggested to me by a few people in my NaNo region, so this isn’t my invention.