How is it November, already? I know it really doesn’t need to be said, but where is this year going? Wasn’t it just Spring five seconds ago? But the temperature is dropping, the trees are brilliant shades of gold and bronze, and Stranger Things is back on Netflix. And with November comes NaNoWriMo, the event writers are looking forward to and dreading in equal measure all year. But it doesn’t have to be so scary. I’ve put together a novel outline template for you to help plan your novel.

What is NaNoWriMo?

No clue what NaNoWriMo is? It stands for National Novel Writing Month (although it’s very international), and the idea is to write a novel in one month. Scary, right? But the goal is 50 000 words, and in 30 days you can break that down to 1667 words per day. Which, sure, is still a lot. But if you’re concentrating on nothing except the word count, you’ll (hopefully) be able to ignore that perfectionist demon in your head that forces you to write at a snail’s pace, deliberating over the position of every comma.

I haven’t participated in NaNo for a while, but I need a kickstart on my writing and want to try something a bit different, so I’ll be closing my eyes, gritting my teeth and forcing myself into it this year. If you’re joining me, make sure you’ve signed up on the website so you can track your progress (because what’s more motivating than a handy graph telling you how much you have left to write?)

Plotting your NaNoWriMo novel

Before you start, you’ll probably want to plan at least a little bit of how your novel is going to go (unless you just want to ramble for 50 000 words and see what comes out). But I’m the type of writer that needs a bit of structure, so I know what plot events are coming up. I also love writing a little mystery or twist into my work, and for that I definitely need a plan.

When I’m plotting a novel I use a Google Spreadsheet, because I find it handy to have a neat, organised layout of what my story will look like. That way I get an overview of all the chapters, and what will happen. If you want to check out the spreadsheet I use (so you can adapt it for your own novel and use) you can find a template to copy here:

Open the template with Google Docs.

In the template you can see I’ve divided the novel up into 25 chapters. For a 50 000 word story, that’s 2000 words a chapter. Manageable, right? I’ve also put in the classic structure of a novel, which, of course, you can completely ignore, but you might find it handy to use while plotting your novel. I’ve added sections for the date, time and setting of each chapter, because it’s very easy to get lost in 50 000 words. And I’ve put in sections for you to add in what’s happening with your main characters and secondary characters.

If you use the template, let me know what works for you and what doesn’t – I’d be interested to hear if you have any other tips or tricks to plotting a novel for NaNo!

If you want to connect with me on NaNoWriMo, my author profile is here.

A novel that I started in NaNoWriMo a few years ago now (and completed!) is available for you to read (for free, obviously), over here on Wattpad, so please do check that out, too!