Road Map for NaNoWriMo July


For NaNoWriMo JULY

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 (Inspired by MY BOOK THERAPY)

Are you participating in July’s NaNoWriMo? (National Novel Writing Month) If not, maybe you should consider making the commitment.

But before you begin your 30-day adventure, you need to be familiar with some of the following terms and what they mean. How you plot is a personal thing, but find a way to include the elements that will make your story seamless.

Design a template, outline, or flowchart to match your personality. Have a road map to where you’re going so when July 1 begins you can plow through your words.

Think how fast you’ll be able to write if you have a road map to where you’re going!


Ordinary world. Show your character’s life when the story starts. What’s normal in her world? In The Hunger Games we know that Katniss and Gale have to escape and hunt for their food, that they live in a world where the Capitol controls the districts. That’s “their” normal.

Hook. Think of this as a water cooler moment. A scene that readers will talk about, something that draws them into the story, something they’ll want to tell their friends about. Sometimes the HOOK is confused with the INCITING INCIDENT (below) but not always.

In The Hunger Games it’s the fact that kids have to fight for their life, their family and their district—until death. This “premise” or hook is what readers talk about. How many times have you heard people say something like this?:

The Hunger Games is a story where kids have to kill other kids.” People can’t imagine this scenario. Therefore, it creates a BUZZ. 

Inciting incident. Something happens to your mc (main character) that disrupts his life and sends him on a quest.

In The Hunger Games, this is when Katniss volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the Games. This event launches her on a quest.

Setting. Where the story takes place. There might be a different setting for every scene. Sometimes the setting can be the plot. Take a normal setting and change the time of day, (like a deserted playground in the middle of the night. Think how scary that could be.)

Consider the genre you’re writing and make the setting applicable. For example, if you’re writing YA consider those places teens like to hang at.

Character’s Greatest Fear. Know what this is before you start writing so you can make your mc face this fear. It’ll be their Black Moment later.

Yes, you will have to torture your character so it’s better to know right away what will get her panties in a ruffle or make her squirm. Does she think no one loves her? (It’s a lie, of course.) But make sure someone rejects her when she needs love the most. Make sure her greatest fear comes true.

Happiest Moment. Identify main character’s happiest moment. This will give the reader a hint at what they want, their story goal.

Glimpse of Hope. Show a scene where the reader sees what the character wants. In the HG, the glimpse of hope is here in the first chapter:

“We could do it, you know,” Gale says quietly.

“What?” I ask.

“Leave the district. Run off. Live in the woods. You and I, we could make it,” says Gale. I am speechless. The idea is so preposterous.

“If we didn’t have so many kids,” he adds quickly.

He means our siblings, of course. Gale’s two little brothers and a sister. My Prim. And you may as well add our mothers because how would they manage without us hunting for the family?

Main character’s external goal and internal goal – What is their internal goal? What’s their external goal? Sometimes these are in conflict.

In the HG – Katniss’s goal was to stay alive, but if she did then she had to kill the others. Her internal goal was to be true to herself, but how could she love herself if she killed a human being?

Obstacles– what or who gets in the way of her achieving her goal?

What will happen if the main character doesn’t get what she wants? There will be consequences.

If Katniss doesn’t kill the others first, she will die. 

The quest. The journey your character takes to find his new ordinary world. He will either find a NEW ordinary world or return to his old one. You get to decide.

The fork in the road. Your character has to choose which way to go. Each path/decision has consequences.

These paths will be written in multiple scenes. Three bad things need to happen, but make sure there’s a “relief” scene too—give the mc a chance to rest, to regain momentum or bounce back and react to the BAD events.

The black moment. “The black moment occurs in the beginning of the third act, the end of the second act. It’s when the worst possible thing happens, the main character’s greatest fear comes true, and when the lie she believed seems overwhelming.” (Susie May Warren, My Book Therapy)

This is the third and final BAD thing that happens. (Note: Each POV character needs a different black moment.)

Make this moment believable but unexpected. 

Also called the climax. The ultimate point of tension in the story. This is when Katniss and Peeta fight Cato, he dies, and the announcer tells Katniss and Peeta that the rules have changed and only one winner can survive. The kids threaten to eat the poisonous berries. They’re ready to die together.

The aha moment. That moment when your character discovers something internal about himself. Or when he realizes the lie he thought was the truth, is really a lie.

Katniss believed that when the Games were over and if she won then her family wouldn’t be hungry anymore, she’d be free, and her district wouldn’t starve. But she discovers that this isn’t entirely true. Nothing, especially her life, will ever be the same again. She’s made the Capitol angry for defying them.

The happily-ever-after–or not. You get to decide which works for your novel.

(This post was inspired by Susie May Warren, best-selling author and teacher, at My Book Therapy. If you’re interested in ramping your writing skills join Susie May over at My Book Therapy. You’ll learn from the best!)

Does your roadmap look like this?

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  1. Kelly Erickson says:

    Thanks for giving me a template. I will be making sure I have all these elements decided on before I get too far into Camp NaNoWriMo. Leave it to me to paddle out to the middle of the lake only to discover I left the paddle behind.

    • Hi Kelly –

      I hope this helps you think a little deeper into your story. Good luck with NaNo! (And leave the paddle where you can find it! Ha!)

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