This week, I’ve had interesting conferences with teens prepping for NaNoWriMo. They have all gone something like this, “I’ve got this great setting OR cool character OR plot idea, but now what? I don’t know where to go with it.”
Crafting a novel worthy idea can be intimidating and overwhelming. There’s so much to think about, but it’s doable if you break it down into a novel’s most basic pieces.
1) First, you need a main character, the protagonist. Even if you’re starting with a setting, you must have an interesting character doing something in that setting.
2) The character must want something. Their goal could be anything. Maybe they want to survive a natural disaster, vanquish an evil wizard, find the buried treasure, or maybe just speak to a person they’ve had a crush on.
3) Your novel also needs an antagonist, the person or thing that is keeping your main character from reaching their goal. The antagonist could be an evil demon, a blizzard, the other person who is also after the buried treasure, or their own fears. Remember that the antagonist doesn’t have to be a person.
4) Next, you need to decide on the setting, or where and when your story will take place. Will it be in a future dystopian world, the wild west, a small town on the Oregon coast, New York City in the 1920’s, or a fantasy world filled with magical creatures and wizards? Your setting can dramatically impact the plot.
5) The plot is the last major element. Once you’ve got the above elements in place, you should have some great plot and conflict ideas. The antagonist will do everything they can to stop your main character from reaching their goal, while your protagonist will do what buy wellbutrin in australia they can to reach it.
This is the fun part of planning your novel. What can you put in your main characters way? This is also when you can add support characters and sub-plots. When your protagonist’s struggle comes to a head, you’ve got your novel’s climax.
As this is perhaps the most simplistic outline of a novel, let’s look at some examples.
In The Hunger Games, the protagonist is Katniss. She wants two things: to take care of her family which she does through hunting and taking her sister’s place in the Games and to survive the Games in the arena. The antagonist is the arena itself and all the other tributes who are trying to kill her. On a larger scale, the antagonist is the government. The story is set in a future dystopian America made up of twelve districts. The plot is all of the adventures Katniss has trying to protect her family and survive. The climax is the ultimate battle when she does survive.
In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet wants to marry for love. Her mother wants her to marry for money. The story is set in Victorian England. Elizabeth meets Mr. Darcy near the beginning of the novel and decides she doesn’t like him whatsoever, but he keeps reappearing throughout. Her mother wants her to marry him as he is wealthy, but Elizabeth despises him. The plot is the story of Elizabeth and her sisters trying to navigate the murky waters of finding a husband.
That’s it! Two novels distilled down to their most basic elements.There are obviously sub-plots and supporting characters woven throughout, but if you can clearly identify these basic elements, you are on your way to beginning a Nano novel outline.