No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty

Chris Baty is the founder of National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo, which I’ve decided to try out this year. In preparation for doing so, I decided to read his book, No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. That’s exactly what NaNoWriMo is for those who are wondering: It’s 30 days of non-stop novel writing madness. It starts on November 1st and ends on midnight, November 30th, with a goal of 50,000 words.

This book is excellent! I’ve been looking for a great book on writing and this one is superb. Though it’s superb for a 30 day writing process…don’t know if it’s the right book for your typical novel writer, though it does have some great universal tips. This book is basically a guide for NaNoWriMo from someone who’s obviously been through the process since he invented it. The first section of the book focuses on what you should expect, what you need to prepare yourself, selecting the right notebooks, selecting the right locations to write, selecting the right time to write, plot, characters, and basically how to survive during the process. The second section of the book is a week by week account of the writing process and you are supposed to read each chapter at the beginning of each week of the writing process (I obviously jumped ahead). The final section deals with what to do when the process is over and gives tips on rewrites, possibilities of publishing, etc.

I really enjoyed this book. Not only was it informative, but it was a fun read. Baty has a great writing style and totally entertained me. The book was right around 50,000 words so that the reader gets an idea of what a 50,000 word book looks like. Throughout the book there are quotes from past “winners” of NaNoWriMo so you’re constantly getting input from others who have gone through the process and it sounds like a great experience.

Baty’s main point here is that anyone can do NaNoWriMo and anyone can write a book. It just takes determination. The thing he stressed over and over again was “quantity not quality.” Remember that the goal is 50,000 words in 30 days and that you’re writing a rough draft. So just focus on getting to 50,000 words and rewrite later. There were 2 quotes that I loved referring to that idea. The first comes from Ernest Hemingway: “The first draft of anything is shit.” The second came from the author, Chris Baty: “you should lower the bar from ‘best seller’ to ‘would not make someone vomit.'” See guys, the expectations really aren’t that high.

Great book for anyone looking for a little bit of motivation in the area of writing. I was considering participating in NaNoWriMo before, and I think that this book just about sealed the deal for me. Warning: you guys will be needed for support in November…clear the calendar 😉


23 Responses

  1. “Entertaining” is a good word to describe this book. I really enjoyed his light-hearted style (although I’ve read most of the book and decided to hold on the last part for a reread in October).

    Just FYI, I wrote up a lists of things I love and hate in a novel, as he suggested. And, then I kept referring back to it and finding that a few things about my story fell in the “hate that” category. I thought that was funny. 🙂

  2. Bookfool, very entertaining! I found myself actually enjoying a non-fiction book, which doesn’t happen very often with me. I kinda felt like I was cheating by reading the last part…but at the same time, I feel like I got some good stuff to go into the process with. I loved the list idea…I’ll def. use that one. Are you doing NaNoWriMo again this year?

  3. Does he have a guide to dissertation writing?

  4. LOL…That’s great N! You’ll have to write that one I’m afraid…You should start National Dissertation Writing Month…

  5. I completely agree that writing is just a matter of determination. Too bad I don’t have any 😛

    Don’t worry, come November we’ll all be here cheering you as you go along!

  6. I’ll probably be joining you in November. So, over the summer I’ll pick up a copy of this and have a read. 🙂

  7. Hey Chris, come November, i will be joining you for NaNoWriMo! You definitely have my support! (Along with snarky remarks on the sidelines!)

  8. hmmm, a whole month where you will be writing and not reading… this I have to see to believe! *snicker*

    I know a few bloggers who have done the NoNoWriMo… just never heard if anything came from any of their writings.. just that “I did it!” at the end.

  9. Sounds like a fantastic book. I look forward to your participation in this, though I dread the time it will take away from us via your blog. I’m a selfish bastard. I’m sorry.

  10. Nymeth, Unfortunately I tend to be lacking in the determination area as well, so I’m hoping I can change that by November…we’ll see!

    Quix, Yay!!! You’ll love this book. Really quick read and it was alot of fun. Some great pointers too!

    Dark Orpheus, More Yay!!!! I’m so happy other people are doing NaNoWriMo too! We’ll have a small army…no, a fellowship 😉 Snarky remarks from the sidelines will be wonderful.

    Deslily, You can’t possibly think that I will give up reading for a month?! No, I’m going to attempt to do both :p We’ll see how successful I am :/

    Selfish Bastard, erm…Carl, If anything, you’ll be getting MORE blog posts 😉 They will just be more whiny than normal I’m sure. Whenever I’m stressed or have deadlines, my favorite thing to do is to complain about it. So by the time I finish writing the book, none of you will ever want to read it 😉

  11. Chris, I’m so glad you reviewed this. I saw it on your “books I’m reading” list and I was going to ask you about it.

    I’ll definitely cheer you on from the sidelines! (If I find some determination for myself, I might even join in the challenges). I think, I hope, I can write something that “would not make someone vomit.”

  12. That’s what kept me going Kim 😉 Even I can write something that won’t make someone vomit! Seriously though, great book! I’d give it a read if you’re looking for something on the topic.

  13. If you write a book, I’ll buy an autographed copy. Just let me know!

  14. 😉 The first is yours Bellezza…yeah anyone would publish something I wrote, ha! Who knows, I may surprise myself!

  15. I believe in you, Chris. Remember, Madeleine L’Engle had enough rejection notices to wallpaper her office. Sometimes, publishers don’t know a thing.

  16. Well thank you Bellezza, I think I’ll keep your comment on the front of my notebook 🙂

  17. Ah, Chris, but one can plan early – what kind of book are you going to write for NaNoWriMo? Horror? Science fiction? Scottish Highland Romance? ;p

    I’ll probably end up writing about vampires. I always do.

  18. NaNo!!

    My secret obsession…

    Well, okay. Not so secret. My family has learned not to bother me for the entire month of November. Except for Thanksgiving, that is.

    You’ll probably enjoy it, Chris, and it will more than likely drive you nuts but it’s a great experience. I’ve done three years now and have ‘won’ two.

    If you’re signed up, I’d love to add you to my buddies list.


  19. Dark Orpheus, Whatever I write, you can be guaranteed that it will be horribly depressing 😉 It always is. I tend to write things that are depressing but have that “uplifting edge” with a fantasy twist to it. We’ll see what comes out this time. I have an idea that’s sort of fresh for me and I’m really liking it! Not so depressing this time and sort of Neo-Sci-fi….hope I can work it into something. I love vampire novels! So I’ll love whatever you decide to do I’m sure 😉

    CJ, I’m afraid that my family is in for a rude surprise this November 😉 They won’t let me sign up til October, so I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve signed up! That’s so great that you’ve “won” twice!! Two novels under your belt! Impressive 😀

  20. Oh, yeah. I’d forgotten that you can’t sign up until November.

    Silly question, I know, but have you checked the NaNo site out? It still sees a decent amount of activity, even now.

    If you feel like it, you can check my profile out. Same name – CJHill. I believe all you need to do is search under the authors link.

    I’m happy with the two books I’ve written, but I didn’t finish them during NaNo. I’m not sure you can finish an entire novel in 30 days. Well, I can’t at any rate.

    Okay, I’ll stop now. Told you it was an obsession…


  21. LOL…I’ll check out your profile CJ. Yeah, finishing a novel in 30 days seems impossible! I’m just making my goal to type 50,000 words in 30 days…then I’ll worry about finishing it. That’s so great that you’ve actually written 2 books!

  22. Well, they’re finished, but are they books if I don’t do anything with them?

    Interesting question.

    And thanks. It is a good feeling.


  23. Well do something with them CJ!! Send them off to a publisher, you never know what will happen 😉

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