In the fall of 2010 I was getting ready to do my second NaNoWriMo. I had jumped into my first one in 2009 five days late, with only vague ideas about what I’d be writing, and pretty much no clue what I was doing.
So when I got an email about a workshop being given specifically for NaNo 2010, I signed up. It was called Speed Drafting, and was taught by Renda Dodge, one of the Seattle NaNo Municipal liaisons. The workshop was free, but for $10 you could buy a workbook to go with it.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my 2010 NaNo was my most successful, both in terms of word count at the end of the month, and in terms of going on to actually finish the novel once November was over. I learned a lot at the workshop, and then taking time to fill out the workbook in the days following helped me really get a handle on the story I wanted to write.
The workbooks that Renda created were what I’d call teaching workbooks. They weren’t just worksheets to fill out, they contained a lot of information about hooks, plot types, types of endings, and so on. Last year Renda published a book called, The Indie Writer’s Workshop, which covers a lot more material than just what was presented in the workshop I took. I haven’t seen the book, but I’d imagine it’s helpful to beginning writers.
This year I decided I wanted to create my own workbook to help me get focused on plotting my novel. I’ve been thinking that might help me be more successful again. I used Renda’s workbook as a starting point, adapting some her questions to my workbook. I rearranged some things to be more linear to fit how my brain works, and I also added a lot of my own material. It’s a bare bones workbook, with nothing in the way of teaching materials.
The main idea is that the workbook helps you brainstorm ideas for your characters and plot, so you have something to work from to write your novel. If you’re not a big planner, I think the brainstorming can still help, in that you get a bunch of ideas in your head about the story you want to tell. And if you are an outliner, you can use the worksheets to help you create the outline. (Which is what I intend to do.)
As I was working on it, I thought others might find it useful, so some of it is designed with that in mind. Originally I was going to host it on Google Docs so anyone could go and download it, but when I went to sign up I wasn’t happy with some things in the TOS.
So instead I’ll just offer that anyone who would like a copy can email me using the contact form (tab at the top of this page), and I’ll email it to you. (For privacy, feel free to use a fake name and a throwaway email address*.) You can request either Word .doc format or .rtf format. It’s designed to be printed out and written on, it’s not a form you can use on your computer.
* Everyone should have what I call a throwaway email address. Sign up at Gmail, Yahoo, or some other free email site and create an email account that is specifically for using when you don’t want to reveal your real info. That way you can register at various sites around the web without any worries.