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Book: The Writer's Novel-In-A-Month Preparation Book - A Practical Workbook by Rayne Hall

Book: The Writer's Novel-In-A-Month Preparation Book - A Practical Workbook by Rayne Hall

categories: Book, Novel Writing Month, Novel Writing, Fiction Writing, Writer's Workbook, Writing Action Book, Creative Writing, Novel Plotting, Fast Writing, Quick Writing, Book Writing, Writing Marathon, NaNoWriMo


Rayne Hall

Rayne Hallabout this book: Do you want to write a novel in a month? Has your writer's group set its members a fast-writing challenge? Has your publisher given you a tight deadline for delivering your next book? Are you planning to take part in the next National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)?

If so, this book will help you gather ideas, develop a plot, do your research, and plan your project in the days or weeks before you begin writing, so when the marathon begins, you'll be in a great starting position, ready to sprint.

This guide will help you write a killer first draft, and write it fast. You'll gather ideas, recruit characters, plan your plot, and plan for the eventualities that could prevent your success.

This is not a 'How To Write A Novel' book. You'll find plenty of those in your local bookshop or online. Instead, this is a workbook. You can view it as a do-it-yourself workshop: you're in charge, you do the work, and you own what you create.

You can flip forward and backward between sections, working on the assignments you feel inspired to tackle, and return to others later if you wish. You can also go back to some sections and add to them as new ideas come up.

What you jot down in this book is not written in stone, so feel free to make changes later. During the month, new ideas will emerge, the novel will take detours, and characters will present you with their own agenda. Your advance planning should boost your creative freedom, not restrict it.

You may want to write some notes in pencil for easy erasing, or you can use coloured ink to make the exercises fun.

I use British English in this book. You can use American English or whichever language you're most comfortable with and plan to use for your novel.

When talking about characters, I alternate between 'he' and 'she'. You can give your characters whatever gender you like.

Now let's get started. The more assignments you complete before 1 November, the better you will be prepared.


Write About What You Know

"Write About What You Know" - This is good advice, because it gives a novel authenticity. For novel-in-a-month writers, this has another benefit: writing about what you know means you don't have to spend time researching.

Write down all subjects about which you know more than the average person. Include your current and former jobs ('waitressing in a grubby restaurant', 'dealing with a grumpy demanding boss'), your areas of education and training, your family status ('getting married for the first time at age 62', 'growing up in a polygamous family'), your hobbies, and anything else you can think of. Add to this list when more ideas come to mind.


Let some time pass, then circle or highlight the topics you feel have potential as a background for your work of fiction.

Location, Location

What locations do you know better than most people?

If possible, set your novel in an area you know well. This saves research, and you don't need to worry about continuity ('Did I put the cemetery uphill or downhill from the memorial park?').
You can add invented parts to a real city ('Wibberley Close, a road in the south of London, three miles from Brixton') or region ('Wibberley Holt, a typical Sussex village in the South Downs').

Write down all the places you've lived (cities, towns, villages, regions), and also areas where you have visited often or travelled extensively.



What genre do you want to write in? If unsure, pick the genre you enjoy reading most.
Your novel can also straddle two or more genres. For example, it could be 'Science Fiction Romance' or 'Steampunk Western' or 'Historical Horror'.


Which novels have you read in this genre?


If you have time before the writing marathon starts, consider reading another one, perhaps a recent bestseller, to immerse yourself in the mood.

Borrow Ideas

List five novels you've enjoyed reading.

1. ___
2. ___
3. ___
4. ___
5. ___
What were your favourite moments of each? ('When Lizzie turns down Mr Darcy's proposal', 'When psychologist Alex Delaware first meets the seven-year-old Melissa'.)

1. ___
2. ___
3. ___
4. ___
5. ___

Could those favourite moments occur in a different context, in a different moment? How? Brainstorm for ideas.


Let some hours or days pass, then highlight or circle the ideas which appeal to you.


What are your great personal values? For example: honesty, integrity, loyalty, faith, family, independence.


If fictional characters were to hold the same values, how could these values be tested and challenged? Write down at least two ideas for conflicts and temptations for each value.

Let some hours pass, then highlight or circle your favourite ideas.

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