I’ve been participating in National Novel Writing Month since 2009, and I’ve even “won” a few years, but I’ve had trouble feeling the same motivation in later years that I felt as a college student finishing her first manuscript. I talk about it more in a recent episode of the writing podcast I co-host, but I’ve been searching for a way to reclaim some of that motivation.
So this year, I’m treating it like an outlining exercise instead. My goal isn’t to come out of November with a manuscript, it’s to come out of November with enough scenes and background information to write a manuscript the rest of the year.
To help me achieve this, I’ve come up with daily prompts to lead me through plot and character development. Although they’re meant more for outling, I tried to follow the basic flow of a book, so they should also work for people who are writing a novel straight-out.
If you’re feeling a little stuck, I hope some of these will work for you, as well!
- Character 1 at the beginning
- Character 2 at the beginning
- Character 3 at the beginning
- Main characters past together
- Something that haunts them (individually or together)
- A major past event
- Where does Chara 1 hang out?
- Where does Chara 2 hang out?
- Where does Chara 3 hang out?
- Other important locations
- Their current connections to each other
- Minor character biography 1
- Minor character biography 2
- Minor character biography 3
- Minor character biography 4
- Minor character biography 5
- One antagonistic force/person
- Another antagonistic force/person
- Chara 1’s family
- Chara 2’s family
- Chara 3’s family
- What does Chara 1 think about Chara 2?
- What does Chara 2 think about Chara 1?
- History of their world/neighborhood/area of importance
- Chara 3 by the end
- Chara 2 by the end
- Chara 1 by the end
- Climatic moment/major plot beats
- Relationships to each other by the end
- The future (after the scope of the book)