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No Plot No Problem

No Plot? No Problem!
A Low Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days.
By Chris Baty
ISBN: 9780811845052
Published by Chronicle Books
Date of Publication: 2004

Reader’s Annotation:
A how-to guide for aspiring writers wanting to participate in the annual National Novel Writing Month event.

Summary:
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an annual event that happens every November. For 30 days, aspiring writers plot their way through themes, characterizations, and punctuation to create a novel at least 50,000 words long.

NaNoWriMo began in 1999 when 21 haphazard young souls decided to binge on ambition. Some participants quit halfway through while some stuck it out to finish a first draft. The end result wasn’t great literature but a sense of accomplishment. Chris Baty, the founder, decided to try it again but this time push for an online prescience instead of with just friends. 140 people participated with 21 finishing. Guidelines were created and a movement was born. The third year grew to 5,000 participants, with each year growing bigger and bigger.

Now NaNoWriMo is an annual event with a second event devoted to writing screenplays called Script Frenzy. The 2012 NaNoWriMo event saw a word count of over three billion. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern were a result of NaNoWriMo. The event continues to be a source of inspiration for aspiring authors with local writing programs created to support the event and the inevitable editing process.

Commentary_nanowrimo

Critical Evaluation:
Using his experience as the founder of NaNoWriMo, author Chris Baty has created a helpful mini-guide for those would-be participants.

Baty provides a simple breakdown for the event with a week-by-week analysis of what writers should expect for the event. He also provides some background knowledge on how to plan for the event and motivionational tatics to help writers stay on track. Baty’s goal isn’t for you to become a great author over night. Baty’s goal is to help you actually to start writing and to finish. Rewrites and editing naturally will come later but finishing the first draft is the more important focus.

Baty is honest in the results. About seventeen percent of participates reach the 50,000 goal but that’s more than nothing. Even those authors who might fail one year have come back to finish the next year. The book is meant to motivate and to give tips for success. Young writers looking to participate in the event will gain sound advice from Baty’s experience.

Information about the Author:
From Chris Baty’s Webpage, Baty founded NaNoWriMo after 21 of his friends decided to take a challenge of writing a novel in a month. The movement has grown since its inception in 1999. Baty expanded the event to create the Young Writer’s Program which assists creative writing programs for students from elementary school to high school.

He now is a freelance writer, having been published in the Believer and Lonely Planet guidebooks.

Chris Baty on Twitter

Genre:
Non-Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Creative Writing

Booktalking Ideas:
What kind of stories do you like to read? To Write?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
14 and up

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
The teenage daughter of a friend of mine participated in this year’s NaNoWriMo event. She finished her first draft and has been recently been accepted to a creative writing program on the East Coast. Any fan of reading will always wonder if they should become a writer, even at an early age. The event is a great motivator for those aspiring authors. The guidebook is a wonderful tool to help those writers find success.

Reference:
Baty, C. (n.d.) Home Page. Retrieved from http://www.chrisbaty.com

NaNoWriMo. (n.d.) History. Retrieved from http://www.nanowrimo.org/about/history

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