NaNo November and Plotting

Ahh, November.

Fall is officially here.

There’s a crispness and bite in the air, even here in the South. Pretty Fall colors abound, and it’s pumpkin spice as far as the eye can see.

For some people, November also marks the kickoff of NaNo. I’ve never gotten the NaNo bug, but I’ll admit I hit a NaNo kickoff party last weekend, at the urging of a writer friend. I’m blaming the Fall air. I’ll also admit that I went in already planning to cheat—I’m not technically starting a new project draft. Instead, I’m mid re-write (because sometimes even major revisions aren’t enough), plus I owe someone a short story.

The party was interesting, since the hosts had each participant write a brief summary or pitch for their project, tape it to a cup, and pass it around for feedback. We were encouraged to make a note as well, if we wanted feedback on a particular issue.

As the cups traveled my way, I noticed that the majority of writers asked for plot feedback. Others didn’t, and although I was only working from a brief pitch, it was clear that a large percentage of those had a premise, but no greater plot structure to hang it on.

What does one re-write + a new short + my sketchy party observations equal? Aside from the worst word problem ever, a hole that needs filled.

I’m far from qualified to fill that niche though—truly great plotting is a complex skill set and one I’m still working at mastering. Thankfully, a number of other authors do have some incredible insights, thus saving our collective behinds.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list (my second favorite thing, right behind coffee) of my favorite plotting resources.

Have fun and check back in December—we’ll compare word count and progress.

1. Hands down, my #1 (and 2, 3,4 and 5) source is Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. She has some incredible resources, and breaks them down further into premise vs plot and sub-plots.

2. Jami Gold is also an excellent resource. She also has some easy to understand beat sheets, to further map out plot. Plus! Plus, she has romance oriented beat sheets. Those can also come in handy if your SF/F has any type of romantic sub-plot.

    3. In case you haven’t heard of Blake Snyder, or lost your copy of Save the Cat, there’s a website. It’s invaluable, since the blog routinely breaks down popular movies and uses them as examples in order to help understand story beats and arcs.

If you guys have any favorite plotting resources or books to add, please drop your recommendations in the comments.

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