This course will become read-only in the near future. Tell us at if that is a problem.

Plot and theme

Add your own tasks to this list!

C1 - Write a one paragraph description of your novel.

C2 - Come up with a working title for your novel. It doesn’t have to be the final one, but you need a way to refer to this wonderful (or terrible) thing you’re writing!

C3 – Design the cover for your novel.

C4 - What is the general beginning and end of your story? What will be the narrative voice?

C5 - What are the major themes of your novel? Write a few sentences about each and talk about how they might interweave with characters and plot.

C6 - Make a concept map showing the major themes of your novel and how they interact with each other, characters, etc.

C7 - What is the time period your novel is set in? Write about what is important in the time and place in which your story is set. What is the political climate? What are the general societal events? What current events shape this time and place?

C8 - Collect a series of pictures that can inspire your writing. They might be historical or geographical reference, or they might be photos that evoke a certain emotion or mood. These can be gathered in a notebook, a web page, or wherever works for you.

C9 - Make a rough outline of the plot of your novel. You know, exposition, rising action, conflict, complication, falling action, denouement. Draw it if you like. (Draft #1 – suggested to be completed in early Oct.)

C10 - Refine the rough outline of the plot of your novel you made earlier. (Draft #2 – suggested to be completed mid-month in Oct.)

C11 - Refine the outline of the plot of your novel you made earlier. (Draft #3 – suggested to be completed in late Oct.)

C12 - Draw a timeline for various events and characters in your novel.

C13 - Write the back-of-the-book synopsis copy for your book. (You can even write your own little “about the author” if you like.)

C14 - Storyboard out one or more parts of your novel.

C15 - Tie your plot to estimated word counts and your writing calendar. (This is for anal people like karen.)

C16 - List the top 30 items that could represent the points that are the backbones of what you need to get out in your story - this could be in the form of themes, chapater titles, or just snippets of stages that will come out in your story.

C17 - Do some background research on an important event, time period, organization, or other part of your novel. Write a short backstory that draws on your research that doesn't involve the characters in your novel.

C18 - Set up your novel on the Nano site and write a synopsis.

Task Discussion

  • Harry B   Oct. 25, 2011, 12:03 a.m.

    Titles, titles...okay, this is the idea...I would like to do a fiction story but based on some events that have taken place in my life - trick is to not make this a non fiction piece...:)  

    I am intrigued with the idea of the main character being a librarian, usually a dry and stereotypical occupation - the reserach I have done into past librarian based novels/stories of cition have been about romance.  What if a story involving a librarian could make others feel differentl about their own experiences in their life?  This would be a cool book if events could be presented that turn the story on you, the reader, and make you consider things that have happened to you that have changed you in some way.

    Titles could be: The Librarian's Reference

    Referenced Prejudice

    The Librarian's Guide to Life

    Referencing Forever

    Reverent Reference

    Lol...I think I need some help, lol

    Let me know what you think!


  • karen   Oct. 25, 2011, 9:03 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Harry B   Oct. 25, 2011, 12:03 a.m.

    I like this, Harry! I think you can easily 'fictionalize' this while still including a lot of your life experience. My favorite title here are "The Librarian's Guide to Life" and "Referenced Prejudice."


  • Janka   Oct. 27, 2011, 2:39 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Harry B   Oct. 25, 2011, 12:03 a.m.

    I like "Referenced Prejudice". 

    I also happen to like semi-fictional stories from people's lives, so I wish you best of luck with this. :)

  • Heather   Oct. 10, 2011, 7:42 p.m.

    My novel has been titled "The Beechwood Terrace Days" for as long as I've been dreaming it up (a really long time). Whenever I tell people this, they usually say "The Beechwood what?"

    "Beechwood Terrace" is the name of an apartment complex, and "The Beechwood Terrace Days" signifies the idealistic, young, hopeful years three friends (the main characters) lived together. The novel is really about their lives *after* their time at the apartment, but the later stories are poignant in light of their younger hopes. I have this nagging feeling a publisher would make me change it, but that's what I'm thinking for now!

  • karen   Oct. 10, 2011, 8:13 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Heather   Oct. 10, 2011, 7:42 p.m.

    I lilke this. When I was young, I lived in Some-Name-I-Can't-Remember Terrace. This title evokes those youthful days for me.

  • Bonita DeAmicis, Ed. D.   Oct. 8, 2011, 8:36 p.m.

    My working title is Vanna Winkle.

    How do I decide my narrative voice?

  • karen   Oct. 9, 2011, 10:18 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Bonita DeAmicis, Ed. D.   Oct. 8, 2011, 8:36 p.m.

    I like it.

    Will you tell the story from a 3rd person omniscient narrator? (That's how I usually write fiction, but I'm trying to break out.) Or perhaps from the vivewpoint of one of your characters?

    I love it when Faulkner and others write a story with various voices (different character telling each chapter from their perspective), but I'm not sure I could ever do that! (Hmmm....maybe that's a seed for Nano next year. :)

  • karen   Oct. 2, 2011, 5:22 p.m.

    I've come up with a working title for my novel:

    A Discomposing Affair

    What do you all think? (Other ideas are in a G+ post...I'm kfasimpaur there if anyone is interested.)

    I did this task first, because I needed a title to use in making up all my folders, files, and other organizational things for prep'ing! :)

  • Harry B   Oct. 9, 2011, 11:10 a.m.
    In Reply To:   karen   Oct. 2, 2011, 5:22 p.m.

    It makes it sound right off the outset about a relationship gone bad, someone that is uncomfortable, ot a situation that is less than perfect, that is the first image I get....:)

  • karen   Oct. 9, 2011, 10:15 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Harry B   Oct. 9, 2011, 11:10 a.m.

    Good. That fits. (The "affair" has a double-meaning....relationship and larger situtation.)

    Thanks for the input.