Review: No Plot, No Problem

This review was originally written for in 2006. I’m reposting it here to generate more interest.

Written by Chip Baty
Published by Chronicle Books
ISBN 0811845052

Before any of you can ask me, yes I finished today’s NaNoWriMo word count with 2502. Which leaves me with a perfect segue-way into my first review for November is D*I*Y Planner Review Month or DIYPlaRevMo. *ahem* Okay, sorry… I’ll try and refrain from the jokes. But it should come as no surprise that the first book I’m reviewing this month is Chris Baty’s No Plot? No Problem!. Not only is the book a wonderful companion to this month’s NaNoWriMo excursion but it’s also a great stand alone writing book.

For those of you who want to try the NaNo experience but have way too much going on in November, I whole heartedly suggest that you get this book. It’s jam packed with the same sass, intensity, whimsical prose and gentle prodding that makes participating in this event fun. Baty doesn’t really help you write better prose, per se. Instead he focuses on the culture, the things that help you produce writing, give you time and help you turn off your inner editor and write uninhibited prose. Fast and uncensored. His goal, and it works as I can attest to this, is to help you write a full first draft of a novel, in little time. No Plot? No Problem! contains lots of suggestions, pep-talks, exercises and humor to help you get off your butt, silence the inner editor and learn to love counting words.

The first part of the book discusses the history of this writing phenomena, his own personal views on writing and what he thinks it takes to create a work within this framework. He really doesn’t believe that it takes an original, perfect and strong plot to write a novel. Sometimes all it takes is an basic idea, maybe a character name, writing buddies and your family to keep you going and maybe a writing totem and the promise of hefty rewards when you reach particular goals. Therefore, this section dispels the myths behind writing alone, secluded without toys or rewords. Baty also sprinkles thoughts and articles written by other NaNoWriMo participants throughout this section that coincide with the topics he selected to write about.

The second half gives you a portable NaNoWriMo. Baty guides you week by week into writing and finishing your 50,000 word novel in 4 weeks. Amazingly, this guide captures the same feeling and style that actually participating in the competition every November has. Baty shares with you tips and tricks that you can use to help get you past the various hurdles associated with marathon writing. He also includes special pep-talks designed to keep you writing. And at the end of your 30 days, you too will have a complete draft of a novel.

I highly recommend this book, if only to compare the size of 50,000 words. The book itself, is about 50,000 words… if not a little bit more. Out of all the books I own on writing, or exercises to help me write, I can say that this is the one book that helps cheerlead me to a writing victory. This book is all about the passion, the culture and the insanity that happens to us writers when we go word crazy and silence the editor who tells us that zombies and romance should not coexist in a work of fiction.

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