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You'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 (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo), guide you through four exciting weeks of hard-core noveling. Baty's pep talks and essential survival strategies cover the in You'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 (a.k.a. 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? 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.


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You'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 (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo), guide you through four exciting weeks of hard-core noveling. Baty's pep talks and essential survival strategies cover the in You'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 (a.k.a. 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? 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.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    No plot?...Yes, that is a problem! Free-flow writing is like having the shits. You feel tremendous relief, but it really stinks. In essence, what you get if you follow Baty's program and do the Nanowrimo challenge is a microcosm or truncation of the usual novel first draft: a laying down of the bare-bones of your intended book as fast as you possibly can regardless of how embarrassingly awful the outcome. Chances are you'll be left with a lot of words on the page and very little structure, an am No plot?...Yes, that is a problem! Free-flow writing is like having the shits. You feel tremendous relief, but it really stinks. In essence, what you get if you follow Baty's program and do the Nanowrimo challenge is a microcosm or truncation of the usual novel first draft: a laying down of the bare-bones of your intended book as fast as you possibly can regardless of how embarrassingly awful the outcome. Chances are you'll be left with a lot of words on the page and very little structure, an amoeba novel if you will. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad concept, forcing yourself to write a rough draft within 30 days. It might be useful for new writers, who are sometimes afraid of or anxious to place word to paper. Having the impetus or extraneous force of a schedule and a community of likemindeds compelling one to just bloody write is not a bad thing. However, a mess of a rough draft is often what you get if you start a novel at your own pace anyhow. The aforementioned impetus should be coming from your natural desire to write. Every day of the damn year you should be waking up each morning yearning to get to work on that book of yours. You should be grinding your teeth at having to go to your 9 to 5 job and counting off the minutes until you're able to leave that job and return to the work you love. If that kind of impetus isn't within you already this may not be the profession for you. And if you don't want to make writing a profession there is even less reason to do Nanowrimo. If you just want to get that one book within you out, why rush it? Why vomit words on pages that you'll only have to go back and clean all up later anyhow? Pick a good, quiet time during the day to write, pick a reasonable goal number of words to reach per day, and simply make it a habit to do this each and every day. You'll get that book finished soon enough, and it won't be a tragic mess. No Plot?... is not the best book for the new writer. It is, however, the best book for a writer looking to play the "finish a novel in 30 days" game that Baty originated. But honestly that's about it. I'd suggest looking elsewhere for proper writing advice. Below are links to how-to books I've enjoyed. Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell is great for genre writers and those who feel their writing needs to "get to the point". https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... Stephen King's On Writing was surprisingly informative. Especially good for King fans looking for a little autobiography. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is an almost spiritual approach to writing. Almost. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... Strunk and White's slim The Elements of Style is great if you're like me and suck at grammar. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    "The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It's the lack of a deadline." -Chris Baty, No Plot? No Problem! I read this book several years ago and loved it. I had participated in NaNoWriMo several times and found it a thrill, even when I only managed to get 4500 words down on paper instead of the targeted 50,000. I think some of the negative reviews of this book come from people who wanted or expected something something different. So let me begin by "The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It's the lack of a deadline." -Chris Baty, No Plot? No Problem! I read this book several years ago and loved it. I had participated in NaNoWriMo several times and found it a thrill, even when I only managed to get 4500 words down on paper instead of the targeted 50,000. I think some of the negative reviews of this book come from people who wanted or expected something something different. So let me begin by telling you what you will not find when you read this. This isn't a book on grammar or style. It isn't a book on how to get published. It isn't a guide to plotting or character development or world-building. It may touch on some (or many) of those issues, but that's not what the book is about. No Plot? No Problem! is about getting your butt in the chair and putting some words on the page. After all, none of those other things matter very much if you never start writing. It's 50,000 words of pep talks and encouragement. The books on writing that I love the most are the ones that inspire me to run to my computer and write something down. I firmly believe that lack of a deadline or goal can be a big problem for people. It's not that we're lazy, it's that there is so much else to do. Without a deadline, you can always start your novel tomorrow. I'm one of those people. I make a living writing non-fiction, so it's not that I don't know how to sit down and write. I always get articles written on time (after all, if I don't write them, I don't eat). But my fiction never seems to make it to my priority list for the day. Vacuuming the stairs always seems more important. That's where the concept of NaNoWriMo comes in. Write 50,000 words in 30 days. It's a big target, but very doable (although I wish it didn't arrive in the heart of football season). You have a large community to write with and get support from. Perhaps this won't work for you. Maybe the idea of a deadline makes you want to curl up under your desk and cry. But for me, and many of the people I know, the pressure of a deadline makes me get up and do something. It has to be done. Someone is counting on me, even if it is only my writing buddy. No Plot? No Problem! begins with lessons that author and NaNo founder Chris Baty has learned over the years. It covers topics like exuberant imperfection, the Time Finder, and getting your loved ones on board with the idea. Read this book if you are looking for something fun and irreverent. Read it if you are participating in NaNoWriMo. Read it if you just want to laugh. Don't read it if you can't comprehend why people would write a novel for fun, instead of for publication or Art.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. 50K or bust! : "No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days" by Chris Baty   “Anyway, whenever people express their reluctance to invest time in something that won’t have proven results, I ask them what they do for fun on weekends. Invariably, the time they spend running around on basketball courts, rearranging Scrabble tiles, or slaying video-game monsters is not done in an effort to make millio If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. 50K or bust! : "No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days" by Chris Baty   “Anyway, whenever people express their reluctance to invest time in something that won’t have proven results, I ask them what they do for fun on weekends. Invariably, the time they spend running around on basketball courts, rearranging Scrabble tiles, or slaying video-game monsters is not done in an effort to make millions of dollars from corporate sponsorship. Or because they think it will make them famous. No. They do it because the challenge of the game simply feels good. They do it because they like to compete; […] because it feels really, really nice to just lose themselves in the visceral pleasure of an activity. Novel writing is just a recreational sport where you don’t have to get up out of your chair.”   In “No Plot No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days”by Chris Baty”   In the last few years I’ve read at least one book a week. Back in the day the number was two books a week.  And yes I haven’t read Twilight yet. Have you? THAT, my dear, is the drivel that you would expect from us non-professional WriMos. I’ve been working on a SF novel since, I don’t know, ages, and if it never gets published I will be fine with that because it's for MY enjoyment and satisfaction that I could do it... Every moron seems to think that we're all illiterate Neanderthals who maybe can read Dick and Jane and Dr. Seuss, but I've read Canterbury Tales in the Middle English, Beowulf in Olde English and Shakespeare in Elizabethan English...Like to see YOU try that!   If you're into the NANOWriMo, read on.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jokoloyo

    After reading Richard's review, then I remember I borrowed and read this book years ago. I remember this book has good message for persisting in writing a novel, and mental-related techniques in writing a novel. The NaNoWriMo is an event that some of my friends really do. Maybe this book is not for me, but I have seen it works for my friends (OK, this book slap me, if I cannot write a novel, it could be due to my lack of willpower. But that's another story). After reading Richard's review, then I remember I borrowed and read this book years ago. I remember this book has good message for persisting in writing a novel, and mental-related techniques in writing a novel. The NaNoWriMo is an event that some of my friends really do. Maybe this book is not for me, but I have seen it works for my friends (OK, this book slap me, if I cannot write a novel, it could be due to my lack of willpower. But that's another story).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    This book is the companion monkey, printed tour guide, and pocket personal adviser on how to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, written by no less than the founding father of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) himself. The official NaNoWriMo is November. But you can choose any month you'd like and follow the advice in this guide. However, it's bound to be more fun when you know there are tens of thousands of other people all over the country—the world even—doing the same thing. You This book is the companion monkey, printed tour guide, and pocket personal adviser on how to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, written by no less than the founding father of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) himself. The official NaNoWriMo is November. But you can choose any month you'd like and follow the advice in this guide. However, it's bound to be more fun when you know there are tens of thousands of other people all over the country—the world even—doing the same thing. You may even find time to connect with some of them via NaNoWriMo's forums or in person through your local Municipal Liaison. This thing gets bigger every year. There were over 100,000 novel participants in 2007 and more than 15,000 of them reached The End. The book itself is an example of a work that's 50,000 words in length. Others are The Great Gatsby, Brave New World, The Catcher in the Rye, and Of Mice and Men. These are short novels by today's standards. Current popular fiction usually comes in at 75,000 to 80,000 words. But Baty advises what you're really writing is the first draft or your novel. The rewrite you may choose to do after NaNoWriMo concludes will likely add considerably to the word count before it graduates to a finished, polished novel. Or, just do it for fun, or to rejuvenate your creative reservoir. Most professional writers advise the single most important thing for the novice to do is write, and write some more. So NaNoWriMo may be just the therapeutic immersion opportunity your writing aspiration needs. In many respects this guide is a sales pitch to entice you to join the horde in November for the annual write-a-thon. Baty does a good job of creating excitement and enthusiasm in his appeal to the inner author, who's always wanted to write a book. But it's also a very practical guide that walks you through the obstacles and challenges you'll face along the way. It's all here, inspiration, support, life logistics and time management, the sweet smell of success, and a week-by-week self-help guide to get you over the most challenging hurdles. You can read the whole book upfront to gain insights and tips about this wacky exercise, or you can use it as a personal adviser during the NaNoWriMo event itself, reading the individual weekly chapters at the appropriate time. Baty writes in a friendly, humorous tone, never taking any aspect of the process too seriously except the goal (50K words) and the deadline (30 days). He writes with the conviction of someone who knows this territory inside out. Which is no surprise, since he's completed an impressive eight consecutive NaNoWriMos since starting this crazy marathon in 1999. The book also includes a healthy batch of asides that offer additional advice related to the current topic at hand. Many are useful observations from previous "winners" who successfully wrote their novels in 30 days. If you've ever mused about NaNoWriMo or writing a novel yourself, No Plot? No Problem! provides a quick, useful backgrounder into the process. They say the first draft is the hardest, so this may be just the kick-start you need to begin.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lea

    This book is a nice pep talk for nanowrimo. It's not a guide for writing as such. And that's fine, because nanowrimo (national novel writing month) isn't like normal writing. It's the insane thing where you write 50.000 words in a month and then either look at the draft and think "what the hell, this is soooo bad" or you spend a whole year re-writing the thing. So why do I do it? Why will I try it again this year after having won the last two years? Last november I wrote a novel so dumb, no one This book is a nice pep talk for nanowrimo. It's not a guide for writing as such. And that's fine, because nanowrimo (national novel writing month) isn't like normal writing. It's the insane thing where you write 50.000 words in a month and then either look at the draft and think "what the hell, this is soooo bad" or you spend a whole year re-writing the thing. So why do I do it? Why will I try it again this year after having won the last two years? Last november I wrote a novel so dumb, no one but me has read it. I'm not sure if it's irredeemable, but I doubt I'll ever edit it to make it worth anyone's time. I also realized I'm not good with political themes, and that's a valuable lesson - don't shoehorn antifascist sentiments when what you're good at is interpersonal problems. So, yes, nanowrimo helps me get to know myself as a writer better. But the main thing for me is: it's fun. It's crazy fun. To be able to write so much, while my inner critic can't stop me, is a joy I don't get out of normal writing at all. It's like being a child again and just making it up as you go. Of course I hope what I'll write this year will be good enough so I'll actually want to edit it. But if not, if it's going to be nano novel 3 that never sees the light of day, that will be fine too.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    I laughed so hard I cried when I read this book last year. I even photo-copies the Novelist Agreement, signed it, and taped it to my desk to remind myself of the commitment. Chris Baty's humorous writing pulls you along for the crazy ride that is the month of November with numerous pep talks and advice. Filled with stories from Nano's over the years it was simply joy to read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Rating: 5* of five This technique broke my years-long writer's block. It was a huge gift to me to make this discovery. I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone looking for a sledgehammer to crack the icy seas inside.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Pierre

    How to write a novel in 30 days. Poorly. Not terribly impressed with the author's writing style or ideas. Too bad I got distracted about 10,000 words into my horrendous novel. The problem with the book is that it is all peptalk, and no substance. Blech.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I am reluctant to give this a star rating. This approach definitely wouldn’t work for me, but it could have value to someone else. The problem I have with it is two-fold. The project’s goal is to just get 50,000 words –any words -- onto paper within a month, and that will supposedly create a basis for a novel , and quality doesn’t matter at all, because you can “fix it” later. For me, however, the act of writing involves some pride and pleasure in choosing the right words. In a first draft, they I am reluctant to give this a star rating. This approach definitely wouldn’t work for me, but it could have value to someone else. The problem I have with it is two-fold. The project’s goal is to just get 50,000 words –any words -- onto paper within a month, and that will supposedly create a basis for a novel , and quality doesn’t matter at all, because you can “fix it” later. For me, however, the act of writing involves some pride and pleasure in choosing the right words. In a first draft, they don’t have to be the perfect words, but they cannot be just any words, either, just to fill a quota. I might as well copy 50,000 words out of the dictionary. I would not be motivated to complete this project just writing down fairly random stuff as fast as I can without regard for some level of the quality along the way. Also, the idea that one can always fix it later doesn’t necessarily work. I have always found it more difficult to “fix” things than to just do it in an acceptable manner in the first place. Editing can polish, but a total train wreck can usually not be rebuilt into a serviceable vehicle. To call this method “low stress” is somewhat disingenuous. Baty talks throughout about the frenetic pace required and massive amounts of caffeine that will be necessary while you blow off friends, family, and routine everyday activities (like sleeping and showering) for 30 days. How is that low-stress? Some people like an adrenaline-infused project; it makes them feel alive, and I can appreciate that that can be fun sometimes. But low-stress has nothing to do with it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    This book was the most useful book on writing I have ever read. Most of such books are chocked full of enough second-guessing tactics to completely immobilize any writer. This book was a very freeing, encouraging excercise in lowering your standards just enough to remove the fear from sitting down and working. It helped me realize that creating a less than perfect rough draft of a complete story is infinitely better than agonizing over an emacculate first chapter of a book that will never be com This book was the most useful book on writing I have ever read. Most of such books are chocked full of enough second-guessing tactics to completely immobilize any writer. This book was a very freeing, encouraging excercise in lowering your standards just enough to remove the fear from sitting down and working. It helped me realize that creating a less than perfect rough draft of a complete story is infinitely better than agonizing over an emacculate first chapter of a book that will never be completed. Forget Strunk and White. Lower your standards and write a novel in a month, then tinker with it until it's perfect.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    The first time I started reading this book -- several years ago and before I had ever heard of this thing called NaNoWriMo -- I was disappointed to find that it was actually a guidebook to surviving this crazy annual event that Baty had started, in which writers commit to writing a novel of 50,000 words in one month. What was this? I was not going to attempt something so ridiculous as writing a complete novel in 30 days. I was a serious writer. Now, years later, I still haven't written a novel, a The first time I started reading this book -- several years ago and before I had ever heard of this thing called NaNoWriMo -- I was disappointed to find that it was actually a guidebook to surviving this crazy annual event that Baty had started, in which writers commit to writing a novel of 50,000 words in one month. What was this? I was not going to attempt something so ridiculous as writing a complete novel in 30 days. I was a serious writer. Now, years later, I still haven't written a novel, and National Novel Writing Month -- or NaNoWriMo, as it's more commonly known -- has become a worldwide phenomenon. Even my cousin's wife brags about her NaNoWriMo "wins" in her bizarre Christmas newsletters. Never mind that her books are about gerbil detectives. Why was I not doing this? Baty's book walks you through the entire NaNoWriMo process and lets you know exactly what to expect. The idea is, by challenging yourself to turn out an insane number of words in a month, you will be forced to turn off your internal editor, and to let your imagination and intuition free to unleash ideas that you wouldn't be able to tap into under normal writing circumstances. You will give yourself permission to write, as Anne Lamott succinctly describes it, the shitty first draft. It's a valid theory and a noble goal. Some NaNoWriMo winners have gone on to rewrite their novels and actually publish them. Many others are self-published. Others don't write their books with publication as the ultimate goal, but simply enjoy the creative challenge. I plan on making my first attempt this November -- the month when NaNoWriMo officially occurs, although participants are welcome to stage their own NaNoWriMo "Camp" during any month of the year. If you've ever wanted to write a novel but don't know where to begin, or if you're just curious about his whole NaNoWriMo extravaganza, I recommend Baty's guidebook.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laura Leaney

    This was an amusing, somewhat motivating, book to read. I want to be able to think I could write a novel in 30 days, but frankly I know I'm not capable of doing so. . . . unless I was put in prison. Hmmmm. Future crime spree? The only quality I didn't much care for is the tone affected by the author. Most of the book is written in the manner of the "Dummies" books, lightly ironic with a come-on-you-can-do-this-madcap-zany-writing thing. It seems clear, as mentioned by Chris Baty himself, you MAY This was an amusing, somewhat motivating, book to read. I want to be able to think I could write a novel in 30 days, but frankly I know I'm not capable of doing so. . . . unless I was put in prison. Hmmmm. Future crime spree? The only quality I didn't much care for is the tone affected by the author. Most of the book is written in the manner of the "Dummies" books, lightly ironic with a come-on-you-can-do-this-madcap-zany-writing thing. It seems clear, as mentioned by Chris Baty himself, you MAY finish a 300 or so page book in the requisite thirty days, but you'll probably end up with a pretty awkward book that has potential for revision. But you know what? You'll have a manuscript - and I think that's worth a little joy. The book has quite a few good ideas to get a person writing, but the most prominent piece of advice is to write in a sustained fashion. I can't argue. I remember an interview with Nora Roberts in "The New Yorker" (long ago) where Nora Roberts said (this isn't exact) that the bedrock of all her writing advice is "ass in chair."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Deborah O'Carroll

    3.5 stars A fairly quick, light read, sometimes amusing with a few helpful ideas, in general of interest to those who have or would like to participate in NaNoWriMo or otherwise write a novel in a month, and about writing in general. There's some language, and the humor is of a particular type you need to be in the mood for, so it's not for everybody, and has stuff/advice that hopefully nobody takes seriously, because it's intended to be tongue in cheek. XD But otherwise it was enjoyable and a ni 3.5 stars A fairly quick, light read, sometimes amusing with a few helpful ideas, in general of interest to those who have or would like to participate in NaNoWriMo or otherwise write a novel in a month, and about writing in general. There's some language, and the humor is of a particular type you need to be in the mood for, so it's not for everybody, and has stuff/advice that hopefully nobody takes seriously, because it's intended to be tongue in cheek. XD But otherwise it was enjoyable and a nice distraction so I could feel like I was being NaNo-ish when I should have been writing words for NaNo. :P And besides, it felt vaguely appropriate to read it this month. Anyway, I enjoyed it, rather. :)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Klinta

    When I picked up this book, I didn't know it has anything to do with the NaNoWriMo. I have never participated in it (and probably never will as I have a talent to go on holiday in November every year). But despite the fact that I'm not very well versed in NaNoWriMo and don't have the memories many other have, I enjoyed the book and couldn't help but wonder if this also was a NaNoWriMo project for the author. Why? Because I felt like at some points he started to blab away and forgot to cut unnece When I picked up this book, I didn't know it has anything to do with the NaNoWriMo. I have never participated in it (and probably never will as I have a talent to go on holiday in November every year). But despite the fact that I'm not very well versed in NaNoWriMo and don't have the memories many other have, I enjoyed the book and couldn't help but wonder if this also was a NaNoWriMo project for the author. Why? Because I felt like at some points he started to blab away and forgot to cut unnecessary things. There's some solid advice in this book and some things that I wouldn't do. But I accept that this book is this man's experience and teachings on how to do the best with what you got, so I quite enjoyed it and I might reread it for the inspiration (or discipline) when necessary.

  16. 4 out of 5

    C.J. Prince

    I did NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for four years. I didn't discover Chris Baty's book until the last year. Any book on writing will offer something. I find I can get distracted by reading about writing rather than writing. Or distracted by remembering what I've read and playing around on this site.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This book was absolutely perfect for me to start reading a week or so before starting my very first NaNoWriMo - it had a great balance of reassurance, reality checks, and humor. I read each section of the book at the time recommended in the book and found that to be really helpful - it prepared me for each week without overwhelming me any more than I was already. And hey - I hit my 50k on 25 Nov 2018!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Coleman

    Fair or not, this is a review for the entire NaNoWriMo experience, not just the book about it. Chris Baty is after all the architect of this insane month that demands you type like there is no tomorrow and finish a novel in 30 days. Well I finished the challenge and all I can say is National Novel Writing Month is... pretty good. Let me get the negative out of the way first, which ironically may be the most positive aspect of this whole endeavor. NaNoWriMo is just a little too cheery for me. Yeah Fair or not, this is a review for the entire NaNoWriMo experience, not just the book about it. Chris Baty is after all the architect of this insane month that demands you type like there is no tomorrow and finish a novel in 30 days. Well I finished the challenge and all I can say is National Novel Writing Month is... pretty good. Let me get the negative out of the way first, which ironically may be the most positive aspect of this whole endeavor. NaNoWriMo is just a little too cheery for me. Yeah I know they want to encourage people to write and have them prove to themselves that they’re capable of writing a novel but for me, too much positive reinforcement is like too much candy. It feels good temporarily but makes you sick in the long run. Some of the positivity and goofiness was reflected in Baty’s writing tips, like “If you hit writer’s block, just add pirate-ninjas and monkeys and see how your characters react!!1!! XD.” Humor is subjective, but if I were to classify Baty’s preferred humor, it would be of the middle-school “ToTaLLy RaNdOm” variety. Blech. Baty doesn’t offer technique or structural advice for writing compelling fiction, he just sort of gives self-help mantras that encourage you to write without worry, rather than to write well. Don’t go to this book if you want to make your fiction better. DO go to this book if you’re a scaredy cat like me who thinks everything you write is horrible and you are paralyzed by your own fear of failure. NaNoWriMo is great in the sense that it gives you permission to write a bad first draft. I doubt I’m the only writer who needs help getting over this hurdle, and NaNoWriMo provides the step ladder for you to sprint across. I have had this story idea for literal YEARS in my brain and didn’t work up the courage to actually put it down on paper until NaNoWriMo forced my hand. And they didn’t force it with promises of chocolate and good vibes. One suggestion that really worked in Baty’s book was to declare my intention to write 50,000 words in 30 days publically, and then make a wager that I would finish the challenge or else there would be a punishment. In my case, if I didn’t finish my book, I declared that I would donate $100 to a charity (and I use that word loosely) that I abhor. I found that more motivating than any thought of accomplishment or positive reinforcement, and before I knew it my first draft was finished. Having a deadline is a great way to force you to write, but will it produce a work you can be proud of? That is yet to be determined. I have put away my draft for the time being. I may take some notes on things I know need to be fixed, and I am going to take some time to study the structures of my favorite books to see how my own can be improved. But the fact of the matter is I have written something. It is mine and I have proven to myself that I CAN write a novel if I really put my mind to it. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that is worth celebrating as Baty suggests, but it is encouraging. And encouragement is the whole point of this book and of the NaNoWriMo challenge, isn’t it?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    Lighthearted Novel-Writing Advice Having participated in National Novel Writing Month for about 10 years now, I get like I needed to read this book by the founder. It was a fun, lighthearted, and enjoyable take on the novel-writing process. I enjoyed reading Chris's anecdotes of his experiences, like writing some lousy first drafts or how the event first came to be. It was an easy read, broken down into checklists and quotes at times, and something I could pick up easily whenever I had a few extr Lighthearted Novel-Writing Advice Having participated in National Novel Writing Month for about 10 years now, I get like I needed to read this book by the founder. It was a fun, lighthearted, and enjoyable take on the novel-writing process. I enjoyed reading Chris's anecdotes of his experiences, like writing some lousy first drafts or how the event first came to be. It was an easy read, broken down into checklists and quotes at times, and something I could pick up easily whenever I had a few extra minutes Sometimes, it read more like a memoir of the novel-writing experiences of Chris and his friends. It was fun to read and hear about how NaNo influenced them, but I had gone into it expecting more writing help or advice than was given. It'd be great if there was a chapter or even a page of prompts or scenarios to put your characters in. There's a lot of talk of things you can do (like describe the weather or have a character sing a song) but a chapter dedicated to prompts and challenges would have made this a fuller resource. As someone who has participated in NaNo for years, it was mostly things I heard before. If I was new to the event, it would probably have been a good resource to follow along with. It's definitely not intended for writing advice outside of the event, but for getting down to business and getting that 50k goal written. I also thought the advice was sometimes a little strange. It was probably meant to be for laughs at times (like the joke about printing your novel on the company printer), but things like calling in sick to finish your novel and contacting an agent every other week on the status of your novel don't seem like sound advice to me. The humor grew a little old for me and while there were gems of insight, I felt like it was lacking some depth. All-in-all, a fun, easy read that could be a good resource for a WriMo.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Yzabel Ginsberg

    I haven’t left a review on this book yet, and I wonder why, because I’ve had it for ages, and I basically read it once a year (usually in November, how surprising). Both title and theme hadn’t convinced me at first. What, writing a novel in 30 days? Just like that? But but but! Writing is serious business! ...Except that it was such serious business that I never got down to actually write more than a few chapters, no matter the story. This book isn’t for everyone, just like the event it concerns (N I haven’t left a review on this book yet, and I wonder why, because I’ve had it for ages, and I basically read it once a year (usually in November, how surprising). Both title and theme hadn’t convinced me at first. What, writing a novel in 30 days? Just like that? But but but! Writing is serious business! ...Except that it was such serious business that I never got down to actually write more than a few chapters, no matter the story. This book isn’t for everyone, just like the event it concerns (NaNoWriMo). If you’re a writer who’s doing well polishing your current chapter before starting the next one, if this works for you, then Chris Baty’s advice will probably go against your methods. But if you’re like I used to be, if wanting so much to write sends you in such throes of perfectionism that you end up not finishing anything, not even a mere short story, then you may very well get a real kick out of it. No Plot? No Problem! helped me get into the NaNoWriMo mood, and to force into silence that Inner Editor that demanded that every little sentence be perfect before starting the next one. It was a fun read, it made me smile, it defused that perfection-induced stress that was even killing my original pleasure to write, and reminded me that not taking yourself *too* seriously is a good thing, because then you just put things back into perspective. Granted, if you’re determined to have your story published, you’ll also want and need to peruse books about editing, style and grammar. But this will be once you’ve actually *finished* your first draft. Then you can edit all your heart’s content, because you know you have a real story to work on, not just chimerae in your mind.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I'm such a huge fan of Chris Baty's, I'm surprised I'd never picked this up before. I did NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2002 and had my first (and only) win in 2003 during the days when Baty was still at the helm. Nowadays, the pep talks are done by successful authors, some of whom first drafted their bestsellers during NaNo. But, back then, all the pep talks were done by Baty himself. They were encouraging, funny, clever, and caring, and for me they were one of the highlights of the NaNo expe I'm such a huge fan of Chris Baty's, I'm surprised I'd never picked this up before. I did NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2002 and had my first (and only) win in 2003 during the days when Baty was still at the helm. Nowadays, the pep talks are done by successful authors, some of whom first drafted their bestsellers during NaNo. But, back then, all the pep talks were done by Baty himself. They were encouraging, funny, clever, and caring, and for me they were one of the highlights of the NaNo experience. Baty brings that same voice to this book, where he equips you with the basic tools you'll need to rearrange your life and survive the ordeal of writing 50,000 words in a month. He officially fires your Inner Editor for you, encourages "exuberant imperfection" as you work toward the daily word counts, and offers strategies to get yourself back on track if you find yourself in the weeds. If the book falls short anywhere, it's that it almost feels too specific to NaNoWriMo, reminding you that life is going to go back to normal, you'll see your friends again, etc, after you cross the finish line. It's perfect for the NaNo-only writing crowd, but not necessarily for those also hoping to commit to writing long term. I was also amazed by how outdated his suggestions about technology were (about how libraries conveniently had ethernet ports -- heh heh). This was published before the e-reader boom, the rise of the iPad/tablet, the prevalence of cloud computing for backups, etc. That's not necessarily a flaw of the book, I just thought it was interesting to consider how much the way we read, write, and work has changed since 2004.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The basic gist of the book is quantity over quality. If you're looking for a book that gives you tips on how to write a novel WELL, stay FAR away. The main focus of the book is making yourself write a novel as soon as possible so you don't keep putting it off. It's more of a "Go YOU!" cheerleader book than anything else; which is nice for encouragement, but when used alone doesn't make for a good self-help book on writing books. Something else that irritated me about the book was all of the unnec The basic gist of the book is quantity over quality. If you're looking for a book that gives you tips on how to write a novel WELL, stay FAR away. The main focus of the book is making yourself write a novel as soon as possible so you don't keep putting it off. It's more of a "Go YOU!" cheerleader book than anything else; which is nice for encouragement, but when used alone doesn't make for a good self-help book on writing books. Something else that irritated me about the book was all of the unnecessary content (I'm guessing he took his own "quantity over quality" advice). What advice he DOES give is lengthened out over one or two pages, when what he's saying would actually be better written in two paragraphs; I started skimming in the first quarter of the book. And then the author I'm assuming tried making the book entertaining by adding extra little activities to do whilst writing a novel. That's great and all, but I don't need to read half a page on how to pick some corny file name for the book draft ("dumb_book_number_2.doc".....???!). You might appreciate the book if you're looking for a way to make yourself just write your damned book in the first place. Just don't count on getting any good advice on how to make what you write sound decent.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Petersen Wolven

    I wonder why the month of November is the chosen month for NaNoWriMo? Don't the authors have the upcoming holidays and such to take away writing time? The ideal time for me would be January, when it is too cold to go out and both of my jobs slow down for 30 days or so. Such is life, I failed to hit 50,000 words, but did get a lot of writing in before days of having to work and days of endless distraction made me fall too far behind and I felt overwhelmed. There's always next year...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Moa

    Really really helpful and inspiring! I can't wait for November's NaNoWriMo, or just to start writing right now! I read this as an E-book, but I had to order it as a paperback!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Celine

    Meant to be read during Nanowrimo, No Plot? is a light-hearted and snarky motivational book to get you to sit down and pound out a 50,000 word first draft in a month. You won't get much in way of craft advice from Baty's book, and a lot of it is just a bit too snarky to be useful, but it does make this mad project seem like a fun idea. I'd recommend it if you need a bit of a push to get started putting words on the page.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Angela Blount

    To be honest, I’m kind of on the fence about the value of this work as a craft book. It’s interesting, I’ll give it that. Despite having attempted to participate several times, I didn’t know much of anything about the ambitious (delusional?) beginnings of the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) movement. Here we have the brain-parent himself to explain its idealist college student origins. And explain Baty does—with humorous enthusiasm and a great exuberance for adjectives. The point of NaNo To be honest, I’m kind of on the fence about the value of this work as a craft book. It’s interesting, I’ll give it that. Despite having attempted to participate several times, I didn’t know much of anything about the ambitious (delusional?) beginnings of the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) movement. Here we have the brain-parent himself to explain its idealist college student origins. And explain Baty does—with humorous enthusiasm and a great exuberance for adjectives. The point of NaNoWriMo, of course, is to pound out a 50k manuscript in one month. This requires a good deal of dedication, familial cooperation, accountability, and select creative apathy. Quantity over quality is a given necessity if this is to be accomplished. Fortunately, Baty has a range of suggestions to keep you soldiering on whilst your inner editor is away at the equivalent of a mental boarding kennel. But how much any of his tips and tricks appeal to you may largely depend on your existing and innate writing style (i.e. Are you a Pantser, Plotter, or Quilter?) Pantsers have a distinct advantage in the NaNoWriMo endeavor, and it’s to them that the author’s perspective will likely be of most use. Suggestions on inflating word count are both hilarious and kind of desperately sad: *Give your character a stutter. *De-hyphenate hyphenated words. *Throw in a dream/hallucination sequence. *Give your character two names instead of one (or a horrendously long title, whenever possible). *Have your character spout poetry or frequently cite quotes from other literature. It’s worth noting that this book was written in 2004—just 5 years into the NaNoWriMo movement. (I’m sure the author has some updated thoughts and experiences now that he’s had an extra decade to observe the reach and productivity of his international phenomenon.) He has the grace to admit that of the 5 manuscripts he personally produced up to that point for NaNo, 2 were completely unsalvageable when faced with the editing process. And at the point of this guide book, there wasn’t much available for statistics on how many NaNoWriMo books actually do make it through the gauntlet of traditional publication. If you’re trying out NaNo as a personal challenge, extreme creative exercise, or on a determined quest for the bragging rights of legitimate “Novelist,” this book may be right up your alley. For those already comfortable with edit-free tangential writing, all the better! But if you are writing with the goal of serious publication in mind, please do heed Baty’s advice on the post-victory editing process. Because in some sense, writing “The End” is just the beginning.

  27. 5 out of 5

    James

    This one is fun, although the title is more than a touch misleading - it's about the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) event that takes place every November (although, of course, anyone is free to attempt it in any other month they choose.) I say it's misleading, first, because it's not low-stress, as all the advice on coping with the stress suggests. NaNoWriMo is fun stress, but it's a fair dose of it. The second reason I call it misleading is that it would be more accurate to subtitle it This one is fun, although the title is more than a touch misleading - it's about the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) event that takes place every November (although, of course, anyone is free to attempt it in any other month they choose.) I say it's misleading, first, because it's not low-stress, as all the advice on coping with the stress suggests. NaNoWriMo is fun stress, but it's a fair dose of it. The second reason I call it misleading is that it would be more accurate to subtitle it " ... Writing a Very Rough First Draft of What Will Probably be Half to Two Thirds of a Novel." (The idea is to complete 50,000 words of a manuscript in a month.) With that said, NaNoWriMo is a great idea and I'd encourage aspiring novelists to try it. Full disclosure: I went for it in 2014, and although I was derailed by major household repairs, an illness, and the aftereffects of a death in the family, I did come out of it with about 80 promising pages of a novel I've been thinking about but not quite writing for years. Enough that I'm still working on it and intend to finish and submit it in 2015. Beyond the 30-day thing, this book has more than its share of good practical advice on how to tackle writing fiction, along with a ton of encouragement. It's also pretty funny. And if I hadn't read this, I wouldn't have tried NaNoWriMo, and - slight sidetrack here - if I hadn't gotten involved in that, I probably wouldn't have run across Scrivener, a writing software package I tried and liked so much I bought three copies (for my office PC, living room PC, and laptop. It's inexpensive enough for that to be a sane thing to do.) As for NaNoWriMo: as Ahnuld said, Ah'll be bock.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    This is not a well written book nor is this a good guide to writing a novel of your own. This is an over inflated introduction to NaNoWriMo, and nothing more. I am not against NaNoWriMo, in fact, I participated last year and 'won', however, this does nothing more than explain what NaNo is and how to 'prepare' for it. And by Prepare, I mean, waste time doing things that are not writing to prepare yourself to write. Do you like spending time thinking about what food you eat, and how to shirk respons This is not a well written book nor is this a good guide to writing a novel of your own. This is an over inflated introduction to NaNoWriMo, and nothing more. I am not against NaNoWriMo, in fact, I participated last year and 'won', however, this does nothing more than explain what NaNo is and how to 'prepare' for it. And by Prepare, I mean, waste time doing things that are not writing to prepare yourself to write. Do you like spending time thinking about what food you eat, and how to shirk responsibilities? Then this will help guide you. Want to figure out how to write a novel without having a firm PLOT? (One of the 4 words in the title of this schlock) then you are out of luck, my friend. This does nothing to prepare anyone to do anything except for NaNo, and I mean the month, not the work that lies ahead. People have said that this book is hilarious, which I can tell that the author is trying for humor, but it fails. There are also a mass of quotes from other 'winners' as to what advise they have. POINT OF NOTE - No actual writing advice exists in these pages. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. The only thing that this book will do is read in October it will prepare you for November for NaNo, and only your first time. After that, this book is useless. And having done NaNo first, this book wasted a day and a half of my life. Not effecting the rating, but do a quick Google search; research guy, and see that Hendrix lit a Stratocaster on fire, not a Tele. I am a huge Hendrix fan, and this was a glaring mistake. Since the event happened 40+ years ago, the facts are unquestionable.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kait

    Interesting and engaging book packed with writing tips and advice on how to “win” NaNoWriMo. According to their website, NaNoWriMo is “National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.” I would definitely recommend to those trying to write a novel for the first time. The author mostly talks about “pantsing” and there’s not a lot o Interesting and engaging book packed with writing tips and advice on how to “win” NaNoWriMo. According to their website, NaNoWriMo is “National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.” I would definitely recommend to those trying to write a novel for the first time. The author mostly talks about “pantsing” and there’s not a lot of tips for outlining. It’s more pep talk / general advice than specifically how to write a novel in thirty days. That being said, it’s a very quick read, especially if you skim, and I think there’s lots of use in here if you’re a new writer (I highlighted lots of bits to refer back to later). Basically, Baty is here to help you get your butt in your chair and pump out some words—and not particularly good ones, either. I happen to subscribe to the idea that first drafts should be really, really shitty, so I’m okay with this. If you don’t, or if you’re looking for more specific or structured writing tips, this is probably not the book for you.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Leippya

    An alternative view to writing, very fun to read. If you tend to see writing as sacred, you probably should not read it. The idea behind the book is to write a first draft very fast, in thirty days, then spend a lot of time revising. Because this book is short and the author quite funny, it makes for a relaxing read. On another point, if you're thinking of doing NaNoWriMo, the event that's behind the book, this is a good companion to have with you. The first half is about NaNoWriMo, writing and p An alternative view to writing, very fun to read. If you tend to see writing as sacred, you probably should not read it. The idea behind the book is to write a first draft very fast, in thirty days, then spend a lot of time revising. Because this book is short and the author quite funny, it makes for a relaxing read. On another point, if you're thinking of doing NaNoWriMo, the event that's behind the book, this is a good companion to have with you. The first half is about NaNoWriMo, writing and planning for the month ahead, while the second part in divided into four sections meant to be read every week of NaNoWriMo. A nice coach to have close by.

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