Q1. If you have a plot, summarize it in one sentence to the best of your ability. It will give you something to work off of. This, if it is a character driven plot, can even be your MC's goal. It could be as simple as:
- Boy takes back his kingdom.
- Girl wants to have her first kiss.
Q2. Now take your MC and think of why they are the force behind the story. What is their motivation? What is their why? For example:
- Boy wants to earn what is rightfully his and save the kingdom from tyrrany
- Girl wants to choose her future husband on her own and believes to give away the first kiss is to give away her heart.
Q3. Take your MC, as best you know them, and think of where they are in the beginning of the novel. List their:
- Emotional State - Physical State - Current Location
Q4. To help your character go from this starting point (both physically, location-wise and emotionally), what is the one thing that must happen?
For example from before: The boy has to have a battle for the castle. The girl needs to find her "true love."
Q5. Now expand on that. Think of three things (or characters) that can stand in the way of your MC reaching that step. Now think of three things (or characters) that can help your MC in achieving the goal.
(These may be things you use or do not use in the novel(la). This is just brainstorming.)
Q6. Choose one harmful and one helpful thing. How would they affect your character's emotional/physical state?
Q7. Choose a plot structure that I linked earlier (or one of your own). It doesn't matter which one. It could be the Story Circle, the Three Act Structure, the Hero's Journey... Whichever.
Look at those things you wrote out before (the big conflict, the help/harm, the starting point and the ending point) and add them into the structure via scenes that would exemplefy them (as basic as you'd like). See what you're missing from the structure now and list it here.
Q8. Take this bit of time to fill in rest of the structure to the best of your ability. If you're a panster, feel free to skip this step for now and just look at what you have done so far. Allow the story to drag you with it.
Q9. Go back to your MC and look at who they should be by the end of the story. How have they changed? Is their character arc one of growth? A negative one (they lose more than they had)? Flat?
Q10. Bonus! If you'd like, hand draw your structure and share it here.
Here is a list of questions that were asked in the WriYe Discord Chat during our July 20th planning party. Feel free to answer them here, in a plotting document, or anywhere!
Q1. How many POV characters do you have? Why did you choose those characters (if they are not your MC)?
Q2. Who is the person most important in your MC's life? Are they a POV character? Are they prominent in the story at all, if not?
Q3. Look at your antagonist (whether they are a person or not). You may have more than one. Depending on what their goal is, it can drive the stakes in one of five ways:
- Global (whole world) - International (two or more countries) - National (Within one country) - Public (between two or more people) - Personal (a very close, supporting character against the protagonist)
Which one is yours and which ones may need some minor antagonists to fulfill?
Q4. The main plot of your story usually revolves around an MC. The plot to this MC involves three different aspects:
- External Conflict (what we think of when we think plot - the battle, the thing they gain, etc.) - Main Relationship (an emotional connection, not necessarily romantic, to someone) - Internal Conflict (some sort of inner conflict regarding what the MC believes and what he must accept as truth)
So for this ten minutes, let's focus on:
What is the main relationship your MC has? Is it romantic? Friendly? Familial?
Q5. What is the main, external conflict? How does this affect the relationship from the previous question?
Q6. Lastly, what is the internal conflict? What does this external struggle reveal to your MC that causes them to begin undergoing their character arc?
Q7. Surrounding those three main parts of the main plot are smaller, supporting beams to hold up your story. These are the subplots. Novels usually have more than one but they all must support the plot. They tend to be one of four things:
- Minor Character Relationship/Conflict (someone your MC must interact with who has their own needs and wants that directly affect the MC) - Minor POV Character Goals (other POV characters with their own motives and goals that must be met) - Minor Antagonists Conflicts (Mini-bosses the MC must overcome/handle) - Minor Antagonist Goals (Antagonists who do not work for your Big Bad, but are also after their own goals which will directly affect your MC)
Take at least one of these four options and develop the briefest subplot for your novel. Bonus, make two.
Q8. Do you have a plot twist? If so, what is it? If not, do you think one could benefit the plot?
Q9. Think of a minor antagonist - mini-boss. Do they work for your main boss? What is their role if so? If they do not, why are they against your character?
Q10. Give your novel a tagline, like it was a movie. Write it somewhere where you can see it during the challenge/while writing it. Make it as fancy or simple as you'd like.
Look at your plot outline from last planning party (if you were here. If you were not, get whatever outline you may have). Take a highlighter, either digital or physical, and highlight the sections that are not yet filled in or have potential holes in the plot.
We're going to focus on one of those sections now, but you can repeat this question for as many areas as you need.
Q1. Looking at the missing section, make it into a question. So, if the plot hole is that you need character X to get to Point Y, write down the question "How does X get to Y?" in its place. What is your question?
Q2. Looking at the same section, think of all the ways to answer that question. This is your What If list. Share at least 3 of these possibilities.
Q3. Now look at your What Ifs and identify what the reader would expect. Mark these with a small "E" for expected.
Q4. Now look at the rest of your What Ifs. Are any of them completed unexpected? Unique? If so, write a "U" for unexpected. A good plot should have a mixture of both elements that follow the conventions of the genre (the expected romance in a romance) but also surprises the reader with a fresh look on things.
We've worked on plot and character. So let's focus a bit on setting. We need to know where your characters are.
Q5. There are at least three places you should know: Where your MC starts, where the climax happens, and where the MC is at the end. So, where are they?
Q6. Look at where your MC starts. Think about:
- Sights: - Sounds: - Smells:
Can you find any pictures to represent them?
(You can do this for all of your settings)
Q7. Does the MC need to travel to go from where they start to where the climax happens? If so, what is one place they have to go in between? If they do not travel, how does the setting change between the beginning and the climax (seasons, war, etc.).
Q8. At the end, does the setting reflect a change? Does the MC go back to the same setting with a new attitude?
Last Minute Things:
Q9. Try to imagine what scene to best start your novel with. If you can't choose one, list a few possibilities.
Q10. List anything else that may need to be finished before you're ready to start the novel and make an Action Plan. When will you have these things done by? Do you need to dedicate some time in the next few days to figure these things out?
Here is a list of questions that were asked in the WriYe Discord Chat during our August 17th planning party. Feel free to answer them here, in a plotting document, or anywhere!
First, how are you?
Q1. After the crazy month (plus) of writing you may have just undergone, it is wise to take a few moments to yourself for some self-care. Whether that is to recover from less sleep, ease up the pain in the hands/wrist, or just take an emotional breather, it's not a bad idea.
So, what did you do (or what can you do) to recover?
Q2. What is the next step in the story you are working with today? What is your biggest barrier in that step? What is supporting you in that step?
Q3. Look at the rest of your writing year. We have, roughly, a third left, with NaNoWriMo included in that. Right now, state what your minimum goal is for the rest of the year. And then state what your optimal goal would be.
Now, moving onto the novel...
Q4. Tell us about the most proud moment in your main character’s life.
Q5. Is there an animal or symbol that is revered among all others? Why? (This could be religious, sports-team-related, royalty, etc.)
Q6. Describe the way your main character sees the concept of love.
Q7. From the POV of the love interest (or favorite secondary character), give a physical description of the antagonist.
Q8. What aspect of your novel are you most settled on? The main character, the time period, the setting, etc?
Q9. From your antagonist's POV, what is the biggest fault in your MC? And vice versa.
Q10. From your MC's POV, which character could they not possibly complete their "quest" without? (Quest is whatever the plot of the story is)
Here is a list of questions that were asked in the WriYe Discord Chat during our September 15th planning party. It's time for NaNoWriMo prep! Feel free to answer them here, in a plotting document, or anywhere!
Q1. Prep: What is your current day-to-day goal with NaNoWriMo? Write 1,667/day? Binge write on weekends? Do you know you have to take certain days off so you're going to up your daily word count goal?
Q2. Headspace: What does winning NaNoWriMo mean to you? Is it the satisfaction of knowing you can write that many words despite all of the chaos of your life? Is it the freeing feeling of getting the words down on paper/computer screen? Is it the process more than the number of words?
Q3. Story: Every MC has a goal, but what is your MC's greatest fear if they don't succeed in that goal?
Q4. Prep: Are you outlining? If so, what method? Is it a favorite standard? Is it a new one? What do you like best about this method? What do you think may be lacking?
Q5. Headspace: I know I have asked this in planning parties before but... Why this novel? Is it pure fun? Are you trying to finish something that needs the competitive kick in the pants? Is it the novel of your heart or the novel of your fleeting whims?
Q6. Story: What is the most important physical thing to your MC (such as a piece of jewelry)? What is the most important non-physical/intangible thing to your MC (such as trust)?
Q7. Prep: Do you use a different sort of environment to signal to your brain that you are in writing mode? Do you use candles? Special gloves? Mood lighting?
Q8. Headspace: Let's get into the part that everyone hates: what is your biggest fear when it comes to this novel? What do you think you won't be able to succeed in? What do you think will be something that holds you back? How can we, your fellow WriYers, help you with this? (I am considering starting a Support Thread on the boards and maybe having an on-going support party in the chat. Likewise, look for the Today's Yay! thread so we can all brag)
Q9. Story: What is your MC's greatest flaw? They all have one. And they all have to have it exploited in order to make the story really shine. When you figure out what it is, think of one way their flaw will work against them either by being exploited by an antagonist or by self-sabotage.
Q10. Story: We should all have a pretty clear image of our MC in mind, I would think. So, from the best friend or love interest's POV, give me a description of the MC.
Here is a list of questions that were asked in the WriYe Discord Chat during a surprise October 26th planning party. It's time for NaNoWriMo prep! Feel free to answer them here, in a plotting document, or anywhere!
Q1. What aspect of your MC do you think you're going to have a difficult time with? Their personality? Their backstory? If you think about this now, you can come up with potential solutions or ways to get into characters.
Q2. [Prep] Look seriously at your schedule for November. Are there any days you are definitely not going to write? Have you made contingency plans around these days?
Q3. What is your Point of No Return (When your MC can no longer return to whatever their status quo was)?
Q4. [Prep] What are your plans for NaNo Kick Off? What do you envision yourself doing your the Thank God It's Over party?
Q5. What POV is your novel going to be in? Does this allow the reader the right distance from the POV character(s)? Why did you choose this POV?
Q7. Have you fleshed out your settings? While this is NaNoWriMo so we can allow for a lot of underwriting, having an idea of settings can not only make a stronger first draft, it can bolster word count! So tell me a little about the places where the following takes place:
- Your opening scene - The first time your MC feels out of place - The climax
Remember to use as many senses as you can!
Q8. [Prep] Do you have a Motivation Generating Plan? We are all going to have days when we don't want to write (not days where we cannot physically write). What are some of the things you can do to push through that lack of motivation? Can you set up a checklist of things to try before taking a break day?
Q9. What would be out of character for your main character when they are...
- Happy - Sad - Surprised - Angry
Q10. Timelines can be tricky, but in general: how much time passes between page one and page done? A week? Months? Years?
Here is a list of questions that were asked in the WriYe Discord Chat during a surprise October 27th planning party. It's time for NaNoWriMo prep! Feel free to answer them here, in a plotting document, or anywhere! Q1. What is your B-story? A B-story is the main subplot that runs alongside your A-story (main plot) and will converge at the end, providing the solution to your A-story. (Oftentimes, this a romance, if romance is not the main plot)
Q2. What is your MC's want, or your story goal? This is what is propelling your character through the entire plotline, helping them get from Point A to Point B.
Q3. What is something your antagonist (or MC's foil) fears the most? Can you use this against them in a way which assists the MC?
Q4. Your MC should have some sort of problem or limitation that we normally call their "flaw." They will either overcome this flaw during your main story or succumb to it. What is your MC's flaw and how do you think it will affect them?
Q5. What is the mood of your novel? Hopeful? Tragic? Dark? What sort of things do you plan on using to convey this mood?
Q6. Your favorite side character gets lost in a place they know nothing about. What is their first reaction and how do they find their way?
Q7. What do you appreciate most about your MC's love interest/best friend? This could be a personality trait or something you find you appreciate in writing them.
Q8. What scene do you already have in mind that you think will have the most fun writing?
Q9. Have you created a cover? Link it here (if it is on NaNo!) and tell us what your favorite part of it is. If you don't have a cover, what do you envision being on the cover of your book?
Q10. What is one unique aspect of your setting? This could be something small like a place, something larger like a fantasy race, or something even larger like a realm-wide rule!
Here is a list of questions that were asked in the WriYe Discord Chat during our December 21st planning party. Feel free to answer them here, in a plotting document, or anywhere!
Q1. On a scale of one to crazy gif, show me with a gif how excited you are for 2020!
Q2. How many projects are you working on in 2020? What is your main project? What phase of the writing process (editing, writing, revising) are you focusing on?
Q3. What monthly challenge are you looking forward to the most? (If you are new, here are some standards that will most likely make their return: Jan - 31 Original Character Challenge Feb - Keeping Warm in February March - Edit Hike May - MerMay July - Zombie July August - Salute Your Shorts - short stories)
Q4. What goal are you adding to your list that will help you expand some of your writing talents? (Are you editing more? Are you planning to do every genre stretch? Are you joining Finish What You Start, the challenge to have zero unifnished projects by the end of 2020?)
Q5. What is your "for fun" activity (that is not writing)? Make sure to allocate some time for this next year!
Q6. What is the project you will be working on first in January? Can you give us a title, genre and two to three sentence summary?
Q7. What is your wildest dream for your main project?
Q8. What other projects are on your list? (Again: title, genre, and short summary) Or are you open to a lot of inspiration?
Q9. How do you plan to keep track of your ideas as you get them in the coming year?
Q10. How long do you expect to be working on your initial January project?
Q11. What sort of ideas do you have to keep yourself writing the whole year?
Q12. Do you plan on having a progress thread? How often do you want to post to it?
Q13. Do you plan on having a critique/beta goal (a certain number a year, a month, etc)?
Q14. Do you plan on participating in word wars or in-chat challenges, as they arise? Sometimes, we will have groups doing 20 minute sprints, crawls, etc. Feel free to always start your own as well!
Q15. Do you plan on joining the blogging circle? There's a monthly prompt to blog about, and then a list of bloggers. If you have a blog, link it here and join on in!
Bonus: Pick a word for the year that you can focus on when writing gets tough. Write it down somewhere you can see it. That is your 2020 motivation word!