Review: No Plot? No Problem! – A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days

no-plot-no-problemYou’ve always wanted to write, but . . . just haven’t gotten around to it. No Plot? No Problem! is the kick in the pants you’ve been waiting for. Let Chris Baty, founder of the rockin’ literary marathon National Novel Writing Month (AKA NaNoWriMo), guide you through four exciting weeks of hard-core noveling.

Baty’s pep talks and essential survival strategies cover the initial momentum and energy of Week One, the critical “plot flashes” of Week Two, the “Can I quit now?” impulses of Week Three, and the champagne and roar of the crowd during Week Four. Whether you’re a first-time novelist who just can’t seem to get pen to paper or a results-oriented writer seeking a creative on-ramp into the world of publishing, this is the adventure for you.

So what are you waiting for? The No Plot? No Problem! approach worked for the thousands of people who’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo, and it can work for you! Let No Plot? No Problem! help you get fired up and on the right track.

I AM A VETERAN NANOER. This November will be my fifth time participating in National Novel Writing Month! So what is a person like me doing with a book like Chris Baty’s No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days, which is kind of, sort of, as a matter of fact ENTIRELY aimed at first-time novelists?

EXCELLENT QUESTION.

I read it for two reasons. First of all, I expect that NaNoing while in college will be approximately 2000% more difficult than NaNoing in high school ever was. I actually had to skip NaNo last year because I was just too busy, but I’m doing it this year because I missed it so much.

And I really need to be on top of my game this year. Come November, I can’t fumble around. I simply don’t have time. That’s why I read No Plot? No Problem!: I wanted some advice. I wanted to know if maybe there were some tips and tricks that I’d somehow completely missed. (Spoiler: There were. Yay!)

The second reason I read this book was that I wanted to review it here in hopes that it would help some of you – whether you’ve been NaNoing even longer than I have or are taking part in your first ever NaNoWriMo. Now, obviously I can’t list all of Chris Baty’s advice here because that would be, like, stealing, I CAN tell you a little bit about what it offers.

I loved the organization of this book. Section one covers why you should do NaNo, how to get your friends and family on your side, what supplies/tools you need to succeed, and how to brainstorm characters and a plot. This section also includes a brief history of NaNo’s origins way back in 1999 which was really cool because somehow, even after four years of NaNoing, I DIDN’T KNOW ANY OF THAT.

The first four chapters of section two correspond with each week of NaNo, while the fifth and final chapter deals with editing, querying, beta readers, et cetera. (Since I planned to review this book in time for NaNo, I ignored the instructions telling me to wait a week between chapters. #rebel)

While I don’t agree with everything Baty talks about here – he thinks that the 49,999th and 50,000th words should be “the” and “end,” which seems a bit unrealistic to me – I otherwise found this book to be absolutely crammed with ideas. In fact, I need to read it again… and I’m already planning to write something here in mid-November about all the ideas that helped even me, a soon-to-be five-time NaNoer! SO STAY TUNED FOR THAT POST EYYY.

Some of my favorite sections of No Plot? No Problem! include:

  • The pros and cons of noveling in different places around town
  • How to plan out your book in ten questions or less
  • Using your friends’ stories about their weirdest family members as character inspiration
  • How to write 12,000 words in a weekend
  • Why you should always carry a notebook with you in November (hint: so you’ll never forget your brilliant flashes of novel-y insight that always come to you in the middle of the night)

All in all, I am SO glad I read this book. I borrowed it from the public library and was pleased to see how well-used and well-loved it was – dog-eared pages, coffee stains, cracked spine, and all. The date stamped on the first page indicates that the library has owned this book for twelve years and it’s interesting to think about how many people have read since then, planning out their novels, panicking, pantsing, plotting.

No Plot? No Problem! has lots of advice and motivation for either the brand-new or veteran NaNoer. I would strongly recommend that you find and read a copy of this book, no matter how many years you’ve done NaNoWriMo, before next month begins!

Rating: 3/5

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
This entry was posted in Books and Reading!, NaNoWriMo, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Review: No Plot? No Problem! – A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days

  1. Mom says:

    “Using your friends’ stories about their weirdest family members as character inspiration”

    But you don’t need to use your friends’ stories….you have your own!!

  2. Pingback: Quarterly Rewind, Fall 2016 | Writing, The Election, & “Moana” | Musings From Neville's Navel

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