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Create Your NaNoWriMo Road Map

Have you always wanted to write a novel, but just didn’t know how to get started? Did you attempt before, but failed to hit the goal line? Are you ready to finally make your novel happen this year?

Why Most Writers Fail To Finish Writing Their Novels

Writing a novel is a great idea—in theory. In reality, it’s probably one of the most difficult writing challenges you could ever take on. It not only tests your skills, but it tests your commitment, your determination, your ability to block out distractions and, most importantly, to finish something you’ve started.


That’s why most writers either never attempt it or they attempt for a couple weeks, get overwhelmed, decide it’s too hard and quit.

Call it fear, call it writer’s block, call it whatever you want. Underlying the entire failure is one thing and one thing only: Not having a plan.

When you have a plan, when you have a direction, it makes the writing process a breeze. In fact, having a plan is so effective it’s an almost-guaranteed way to cross the novel-writing finish line.

But how do you create a plan?

The Story Road Map

A road map tells you everything you need to know. And it can make all the difference when you’re on the road traveling. It can tell you the stops you need to make—or the cities you need to pass through—to get to your end point.

Without a road map you could end up driving in the wrong direction for two days before you realize you were supposed to make that left turn way back when.

The same goes with writing your novel.

Without a story plan, you might figure out your First Plot Point after you’ve already 25,000 words in, and you won’t want to turn around, so you’ll keep writing, keep telling yourself it doesn’t matter and that you can always edit it later.

But in the end you’ll either quit because you’re overwhelmed and your story is confused, or cross the finish line and then never touch the manuscript again. And isn’t that a tragedy?

If you’re going to spend all that time writing and output all those words, you want them to be words you can do something with. Don’t you?

A writing road map will keep you on track with your story, which will help you stick with writing your novel.

Creating Your Story Road Map

If you’re ready to get serious about writing your novel, it’s time to get planning.

And that planning starts with my Story Road Map workshop.

Sign up today and you’ll be off and planning your story.

We’ll talk through your story structure and make sure it’s solid. We’ll make sure the stakes are high and the conflict is rising. And we’ll build out a road map that includes the basic scenes you’ll need to get from plot point to plot point.

You decide how detailed you want to get with the planning. The more detailed, the easier it will be to write your story.

Here’s how the 4-week workshop will go down:

Week One: Story Milestones, part 1
During this week, we’ll dive into:

  • Your Story Elevator Pitch—you should be able to tell someone what your story is about in 1-2 sentences. A concise, descriptive elevator story pitch will make it easier to know exactly what needs to happen in your story.
  • The First Plot Point—the most important moment of your entire story; so important that if you get it wrong, you can pretty much plan on rewriting your entire draft.
  • The Story Set Up—what’s your story hook? what are you going to set up before the First Plot Point? How will you foreshadow what’s to come? How will you introduce your protagonist and show the world he/she lives in currently?

Week Two: Story Milestones, part 2
In week two we’ll continue down the story structure road and work on:

  • The Midpoint—the point of the story where the curtain parts on the antagonist; readers finally know who is pulling the dramatic strings and why. What’s your story’s midpoint? And how does it shift your protagonist into part two of the story?
  • The Second Plot Point—the final bit of new information to enter your story; it’s the point of your story that pushes the protagonist to become the hero the story needs in order to come to a conclusion. What’s your story’s second plot point? And what new information does it give?
  • Two Pinch Points—the two points within your story where the reader is reminded of the nature and implications of the antagonistic force; do you have two compelling pinch points in mind?

Week Three: Strengthening Your Characters
Now that your story structure is in place, it’s time to shape up your cast of characters with:

  • Backstory—you need to know the complete backstory for every important character in your novel. Do you have to use all that backstory in the novel? Absolutely not. In fact, you should only reveal what’s needed to make the story work—about 10 percent of the full backstory. But even though you don’t need to use it all, you still need to know it all.
  • Inner Demons—everyone has inner demons; the inner demon is the internal force that is holding your protagonist back in the story. In order to complete your protagonist’s character arc, you must demonstrate him/her overcoming these inner demons.
  • Motivations/Stakes—for a character to be successful he/she needs to have motivation and stakes in the story. Readers need to know why the character wants what he/she wants and the stakes involved in getting it.

Week Four: Creating Your Writing Road Map
Once you’ve got your story structure and characters figured out, it’s time to create your road map. This includes:

  • A working document for your novel—this will be the writing road map you will follow when writing your novel.
  • Scene planning—figuring out the basic scenes you need to make it from plot point to plot point is the best way to know exactly what needs to happen in your story and when.
  • Restructuring—once you have your scenes figured out, then you can begin the restructure process where you review each scene to determine if it’s necessary, how it moves the story forward and if that’s really the best location for it within the narrative.

How The Story Road Map Workshop Works
Here’s how we’ll work together each week:

  1. As soon as your sign up is complete, you’ll receive your worksheets and instructions for the the first week via email. You will complete the exercises, do the brainstorming and get your notes together.
  2. You will have a deadline for when you need to turn your assignments into me.
  3. Once you turn each week’s assignment in, you will receive back via email notes from me that will help you clarify your story plan and characters.
  4. You will have unlimited email access to me during the entire four-week workshop—so if you get stuck or have a question while you’re planning, you can ask me right away (I check my email throughout the day via my iPhone).

At the end of the 4 weeks, you will have a detailed road map that will tell you exactly what you need to write.

Who Is This Workshop For?

This workshop is for anyone who:

  • Wants to have a fully developed story plan before writing their novel
  • Needs help figuring out what their story is about and how to get from point A to point B
  • Has the commitment to stick with it and complete the story plan

The best part is the process you work through during this workshop will help you plan all the rest of the novels you write throughout your writing career.

Since this is the first Story Road Map workshop of 2012, I’m offering it at a discount: $95 (that’s $55 off the regular price!).

If you’re ready to give up your excuses and  join the Story Road Map workshop, send an email to: jennifer@procrastinatingwriters.com with “Story Road Map” in the subject line.

But hurry! I only have 5 SPOTS available. When the spots fill, I will close the course until next time.


And if you’re just not ready yet, but want to keep an eye out for when this workshop comes around again, be sure to sign up for the Procrastinating Writers workshop email list below. You’ll be the first to know when workshop spots open or when I’m announcing new workshops.

This workshop was inspired by Larry Brooks of StoryFix.com. His book, Story Engineering*, and his StoryFix blog are the guiding points for the road map process I have created.

*Affiliate link

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gloria September 17, 2011 at 6:36 am

As a senior citizen, 75 years of age, who writes daily and would be delighted to get to the NaNoWriMo Finish Line I despair when I just cannot afford the interesting workshops that I would love to attend. No way can I afford the $95 although I would love to do so – so best of luck with your course, and maybe consider some kind of workshop for free – that would be good. Gloria

2 Jennifer September 17, 2011 at 11:08 am

@Gloria Thanks for your comment. I do actually offer a lot of stuff for free, including this blog, my weekly Weekend Kickstart newsletter and the annual NaNoWriMo Tips for Procrastinating Writers. Just to name a few. At the end of the day, I am trying to run a business and that requires charging for the time I spend helping writers with their Road Maps. It’s already taken me countless hours to plan and prep for this workshop launch, then I’ll be spending time each week on phone calls with the writers as well as offering email guidance whenever it’s needed and more. My time is valuable to me, just as I’m sure your time is valuable to you. So I hope although you can’t pay, that you can at least understand where I’m coming from.

3 sally peterson November 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog! It has helped me to realize key points that may be missing from the novel I have just finished. I cannot afford the cost, which is such a shame I would LOVE to do that, but I am on social security, I would like to know how to find out about anything free that you are offering. I am interested in joining a writer’s community or writer’s circle or writer’s blog, wherever I can go to learn more. If you could point me in the right direction I would greatly appreciate it.
p.s. Obviously I am new to blogs, and communities, so how can I look around for one? thank you very much, Sally

4 Jennifer November 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Hi Sally, this workshop is over until next year anyhow. If you’re looking for a writer’s group Google that plus your city name and you should be able to find one. Most cities have writer’s guilds. You could also Google for an online writer’s group. Hope that helps!

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