blueboxcompanion asked: Hi there! So I’m doing NaNoWriMo for the first time and I’m already petrified. Got any tips to help me out? I have the beginnings of a plot line but I’d like some tips on how to expand it?

First off, here’s our post on Advice for First-Time NaNos!

Now, I have an overwhelmingly huge amount of links to resources on the subject of thinking about and beginning and developing a plot line:

Okay, those were the top results I found in the area of your question. If I were to boil all that down into four quick and dirty tips to expand your plot, I’d suggest:

  1. Make your character’s life suck. And I mean suck magnificently. Put your character in a scene and think of the very worst thing that could happen to him or her (right up to or maybe even including dying) and write that. A life that sucks is a life with conflict, and conflict is the crazy ‘splodin’ star nursery of plot creation.
  2. Don’t leave your character alone. (This is super dirty.) If your character is never alone, he or she is always interacting with someone. Interaction breeds conflict, and we know what conflict does. Another plus: dialogue moves the story forward. Characters by themselves have a hard time selling dialogue, you know? Anyway, you know how, in sitcoms, characters by themselves are either very happy/silly or very sad/angry, then the scene either fades to black or someone comes in and catches them at the height of their emotional state? Yeah, that’s pretty much spot on for dirty plot development. Only allow your character to be alone if he or she is:
    • Being curious and/or sneaky 
    • Being extremely angry or sad
    • Being extremely silly (i.e. funny) or happy
    Then have another character come in and catch them at the height of their emotion/sneakiness. PLOT!
  3. Something that has never (or very, very rarely) happened before happens. Newness is the foundation of a good plot. Something new or unexpected needs to happen to the main character, and often. He or she should experience new emotions, new circumstances, new meetings. The audience often likes to discover things right along with the main character, so do that.
  4. Fudge it. It’s NaNo. It doesn’t have to be perfect. If you’ve got a section in there that’s underdeveloped, you can work with it more later, or put a placeholder in there and skip to the next scene. Above all, never write anything boring (and I don’t mean boring like this). If you think your scene is boring, leave it out, because you have a vested interest in the story. If you’re bored by that scene, chances are others will be, too, so don’t waste your time. Find some other way to muck about with your characters’ lives!

Remember, these are not suggestions on how to write every-plot-ever-no-exceptions. These are super dirty tips to create some plot now. Notice how the tips are pretty character-driven. That’s how I roll. I like to let my characters push my plot, and I encourage you to test drive these tips to see if that method works for you as well!

Thank you for your question and happy NaNoing!

-C

DON’T PANIC


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