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Get ready for NaNoWriMo by choosing your novel’s story question

It’s that time of year when everywhere you look you can find pumpkins and things made with pumpkin. Pumpkins for carving, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pancakes, and pumpkin ice cream. It’s also the time of year when writers everywhere are gearing up for Nanowrimo. That mad rush to write a novel during the month of November.

If you plan to get into the NaNoWrimo groove, you may find that a plan will set you up for success in making your daily word goal.

Some writers have an idea of what they’ll write about when Nov. 1 rolls around. Others dive in and just go for it. Sometimes not knowing where you’re going can make you freeze. While the writing starts Nov. 1, it’s fine to think through your basic plot, subplot, and cast of characters now.

If you’re starting from scratch and feeling stuck, begin with this step: Figure out your novel’s story question.

In his eight basics of creative writing, Kurt Vonnegut said that, “every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.”

A satisfying and successful story has at its core a question that must be answered by the end of the book. In its most simple terms, it could be a question such as, will Rose find her true love? Will Conrad the detective capture the scurrilous killer lurking in his town? Will Jamie find her birth mother, and will she find peace?

Your character was living life until something happened that changed everything. A state of equilibrium was disrupted. What will happen next?

Start with your protagonist and decide what he or she wants. Then inject conflict by making it very hard for that character to get it. Other characters will join your novel to help or hurt your character’s chances of getting what he or she wants. At the end, your characters will have changed and you will have created that change with all your many NaNoWriMo words.

Grab a pumpkin spice latte and stay tuned for more NaNoWriMo tips in future blog posts.

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