For the writers who are bravely preparing to sit down and pound out 50,000 words in 30 days, below are just shy of a dozen ideas to help you warm up and examine your story.
Pre-NaNoWriMo Writing Exercises
1. What is your story idea? Write a paragraph describing the story in book jacket style.
2. Who are your primary characters? Write a short bio identifying each and his/her role in the story.
3. Who will drive the action? Select narrators and the qualities of each, and why they are the power behind the action.
4. How will you use your setting? Make a list of all the possible places your characters can go within the setting.
5. What is the story world like? Describe place and time of setting, real places or significant historical events, or world building/rules for fantasy world
6. What kind of structure and style will you use? 3 Acts Structure in chronological order, epistolary, multiple narrators in a pattern, episodic, non-linear, 1st or 3rd or omniscient POV, fast-paced, internal or character-focused, etc. What is your choice?
7. What are audience expectations? Adults or other, graphic violence or sex, language, pace for a thriller, good puzzle for a mystery – who are you writing to?
8. What is the inciting incident or event that sets this story in motion? Write a brief paragraph describing the incident and how it changes the story world.
9. What is the climactic scene/showdown? Write who will come head to head, where, why, and how, or as many details as you know now.
10. What are 10 big scenes? List scenes that you see happening or you need to have happen to make the plot work, in or out of order.
11. What is your protagonist going to learn, about himself or the world? Write what the protagonist will learn about himself, secrets that may be uncovered, the key to a puzzle.
What if you are not planning to participate in NaNoWriMo? These questions work for pre-planning any story!
For more help on story building, check out my 40+ Days of Worksheets, DIY Workbook.