No Plot? No Problem!
by Chris Baty
This is not a book that details the fine workings of the construction of a story. This is not a book that teaches burgeoning writers how to get a novel published. This is a book that teaches how to write a novel in thirty days.
Baty is very up-front in his purpose. He wants to help his readers compete in National Novel Writing Month. He doesn’t suggest tips for editing until near the end. He doesn’t bother outlining ways to put spit and polish on. He tells you how to push out words and words and words. In fact, he bluntly tells the reader to chuck quality out the window and shoot only for quantity. At least, do so for a month.
The book is divided into two parts. Part one lays the groundwork of what a person must gather before the one-month novel-writing challenge starts. Part two walks through the weeks of the month, speaking to certain patterns that Baty has noticed with himself and other month-long novel writers.
I believe the book succeeds in its purpose. I am excited to attempt to push out about 1800 words a day for thirty days. I don’t know if I’ll ever actually attempt the challenge – my day job requires far too much of me on far too an unpredictable pattern to really throw my heart into the attempt – but perhaps for a week? I could do that.
Now, some of its advice may seem dubious. For instance, it encourages the reader to get rid of the inner editor. Just push out words. Keep going. Don’t stop. Do you have characters? Smash them together. Running out of steam? Throw in something to change the status quo; perhaps a death or a birth or a breakup or something. Just… keep… moving!
Why would anyone ever get rid of the inner editor? Why turn off that little voice that says, “Hey, that thing you’re writing? It’s crap.”
Baty tells us that the inner editor often stifles creativity. It second guesses right when the author needs to get going and simply write. The inner editor aims for perfection in every line; it wants a masterpiece. Instead, on a rough draft, the author should merely aim to get the story out. Only after the story has appeared on the page should the author go back and start editing and deleting and adding and polishing.
No Plot? No Problem! aims to help writers make it through that rough draft and nothing more. For that purpose, the book is fantastic. If your goal is publishing what you’ve written or finding ways to improve your prose, look elsewhere. If you’re having difficulty getting out a rough draft, read through this helpful little volume.