No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days

by Chris Baty

Paperback, 2004




Chronicle Books (2004).


Chris Baty, founder of the wildly successful literary marathon known as National Novel Writing Month, has completely revised and expanded his definitive handbook for extreme noveling. Chris pulls from over 15 years of results-oriented writing experience to pack this compendium with new tips and tricks, ranging from week-by-week quick reference guides to encouraging advice from authors, and much more. His motivating mix of fearless optimism and practical solutions to common excuses gives both first-time novelists and results-oriented writers the kick-start they need to embark on an exhilarating creative adventure.

User reviews

LibraryThing member tammydotts
I picked up No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty when I signed up for the 2008 NaNoWriMo that Baty cofounded. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month in which one attempts to write 50,000 words in 30 days usually in November. As Baty explains in No Plot, 50,000 words is about the length of The Great Gatsby or Of Mice and Men. The whole idea of the project is to write without editing. No Plot walks you through the month week by week, offering pep talks and tips for success. Baty sprinkles wit throughout the book and it’s an enjoyable read. Will it make you a better writer? Not on its own. Some of the tips will be helpful to some people, while other tips will be helpful to others. The whole book is not going to resonate with you. In fact, you may think some of his ideas are completely wrong for how you approach writing. Still, I found reading each week’s section as I progressed through NaNoWriMo to be a welcome distraction from meeting that week’s word count.… (more)
LibraryThing member marck
Baty has a quick, light-hearted writing style, which is important considering the task this book promises to teach you. "Heavier" writing books (i.e., John Gardner's _The Art of Fiction_) call out for much thinking through your process. But if you're going to turn out a novel in 30 days, we have no time for that! So Baty's book moves along at a fast clip, which means you can get back to writing your masterpiece faster. I knocked out over 56,000 words in my month, and though the first draft has yet to be finished, there is no way I would have gotten THAT far without Baty encouraging me to get my inner editor out of the way and simply pound out my story.… (more)
LibraryThing member ALLLGooD
I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2007. I didn't make it to 50K, but it was an amazing experience. I read this book with almost 2 months' distance from it and I wish I had read it in October. I came to many of the same conclusions that Chris had made but through the hard way of personal experience.

What I valued the most of this book was the normalization of the process, outlined week by week...the energy, the doubts, the hopelessness. But, he also gently offers ways to deal with those challenges that inspire the novelist. A lot of writing books offer good advice. But this book condenses to what is necessary for the NaNoWrimo-er. See you in November!… (more)
LibraryThing member EowynA
I've done NaNoWriMo several times now. The first was a novel called "Arts Pentathlon". It was fun and exhilarating, and I really didn't expect to kill one of my main characters off so quickly. But it worked out. The second time I tried, nothing jelled and and I didn't finish. The third time, same deal. The fourth time, I used it as a means of writing the first draft of a non-fiction book. I made it, but have not gone back to edit it yet.

I had decided that this year, instead of writing a new novel, I would use the month to edit my existing non-fiction book (NaBoEdMo). But reading this book has me fired up again. It would be good to write another novel. This book talks about the genesis of the NaNoWriMo Challenge, and the pitfalls. It walks you through the process, and the problems. But it does not give you a plot. It gives you a mental attitude of excitement and charging up your creativity. November starts next week. I have some half-formed characters and attitudes swirling in my head.... after reading this, I'm thinking I should go for it. Recommended.
… (more)
LibraryThing member melydia
The idea behind this book is identical to that of the internet phenomenon also founded by Baty: National Novel Writing Month, that is, writing 50,000 words of a novel in the span of a single month. There are no quality standards, and indeed you are discouraged from editing, rereading, or anything else besides increasing your wordcount. This book would more accurately be called The Joy of Writing. It's not exactly a how-to book, but rather an embrace-the-fun book, full of light-hearted encouragement and amusing asides. I will say that I never would have picked up this book had I never participated in NaNoWriMo. Its very subtitle sounds like a scam: "A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days." The thing is, this book is not about writing a polished, ready-for-publication novel in 30 days (though there are a few pages at the end on revising and rewriting after the month is over). It's about writing with wild abandon and how much fun it is. You won't learn much about writing in general, but you will learn a lot about what works and what doesn't in terms of your own writing habits. If you're fairly new to the writing scene and have always wanted to try your hand at a novel just for fun, pick this one up. On the other hand, if you are a serious writer who is looking for serious writing advice, you probably won't find much of use in here.… (more)
LibraryThing member JulieTurley
Baty's friendly and engaging style attempts to make the task of writing a 50,000 word novel in 40 days seem exhilerating and fun. Anecdotes from former Nanwrimo winners punctuate the text, along with a plethora of tips to keep going.
LibraryThing member markflanagan
Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month teaches you everything you need to know about writing a novel whose only benchmark for success is daily word count. He is fantastically practical and encouraging in this book and there's no question in my mind that i am writing a novel in November - seriously. If you have any aspirations towards writing fiction at all, you will get this book IMMEDIATELY. Ask me - I'll send you my copy!… (more)
LibraryThing member selfcallednowhere
I did NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, and this book helped me tremendously. I don't think I would have been able to finish my novel without all the tips, ideas, and encouragement I got from this book. Highly recommended.
LibraryThing member Nyota24
NaNoWriMo is an awesome idea. The book is a great companion for it, with its week-by-week guide for the whole month (or any month, for that matter). The NaNoWriMo Spirit is all about killing that inner editor, and this is a great guide for creating, maintaining and working with that headlong rush to keep writing whatever rises to mind for 30 days -- and beyond.… (more)
LibraryThing member kayceel
A writing guide for those of us who wrote 50,000 words in a month (National Novel Writing Month). Includes tips on location, setting, character development, plot ideas, etc, and also has a bit about editing and getting published.
LibraryThing member worldsedge
I am not so sure that there's as much as one piece of advice in this work I could point to as some sort of epiphany. However, Baty's enthusiasm is obvious on every page, and manages to be infectious without ever becoming obnoxious. Trite as it sounds, sometimes simply restating the obvious can be helpful, even if some of the particulars in his plan rather left me scratching my head.… (more)
LibraryThing member Shopoholic
This book works. I read it, then I wrote a novel. No, I'm not kidding. In fact, the book is more interesting than just a guide; it's hilarious, and really helped me set asside editing until later. Much later. If you enjoy writing, you'll love this book!
LibraryThing member SlySionnach
Not for the faint hearted! Chris Baty brings you along on his whirlwind adventure of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which can happen every November (nationally by the site) or any month you want with No Plot? No Problem! Any writer wanting to do a first draft without any concern for quality -just to get ideas on paper- needs to read this combination of humor and inspiration!… (more)
LibraryThing member loveradiator
I bought this book last year, when my husband and I decided to participate in Nanowrimo on October 31st, the day before it started. I re-read the introductory chapters in preparation for another installment this year. I enjoyed it just as much the second time. The length of the book is pretty close to the 50,000 word target for National Novel Writing Month. It is funny and inspiring.… (more)
LibraryThing member Heather19
I love love LOVE this book. I bought it after NaNo last year and may not use it for an actual guide to NaNo, but the thought processes and the inspiration/motivation in this book is wonderful.
LibraryThing member LeeHallison
This book doesn't contain much helpful writing advice, but it might be what you need to get started pumping out that first draft during NANOWRIMO (national novel writing month). The book is encouraging but your time is better spent writing rather than reading.
LibraryThing member rcgamergirl
I love reading this the week before NaNoWriMo starts. I don't use many of the writing tips, or follow the weekly motivations. I just know after I read it, my mind will catch on and I'll start coming up with ideas that I can't wait to write about.
LibraryThing member DebraParmley
I've tried Nano and it didn't work for me. My process requires me to write in a different way than is described in this book. That said, there are tips in the book which are useful to new authors. I would be the last one to say the advice in this book is no good simply because it does not work for me.

The thing any writer must do with books on how to write is to hold on to the tips that work and let go of the ones which don't. Each writer must find their own path and what works for some may not work for others.

This was an interesting view into what works for the man who created Nano.
… (more)
LibraryThing member thelibrarina
It's definitely possible to do NaNoWriMo without this book--especially if you waste your precious noveling hours at the website--but this book is reassurance, encouragement, and a kick in the pants all at once. I picked it up again before setting off into this year's novel, and I finished it with a better idea of what I'm going to write...and more realistic expectations for the final product.

The only thing that irritates me is that the sidebar articles are written in black on dark grey. I'm 25; I should not be getting eyestrain yet!
… (more)
LibraryThing member dukefan86
This was a fun book to read, since I'm thinking about taking part in NaNoWriMo this year. It seems like a fair amount of the book is "pep talk," which is a good thing when one is thinking about taking on the project of writing a novel draft in a month! I also enjoyed reading the advice, especially from previous NaNoWriMo participants.… (more)
LibraryThing member kayiscah
A good book describing some techniques to get past writer's block and win the NaNoWriMo (Nation Novel Writing Month) challenge. It's been a while since I read it, but I remember it being both entertaining and well written. I dock it a star only because I have mixed feelings about NaNoWriMo. It's a good exercise, but I'm not convinced weighing your novel by word count is a good approach.

50,000 words that were written is such haste that they should be scrapped and rewritten isn't much progress towards writing a novel... unless of course it helps get you over some kind of fear factor or other writing inhibition.

The world is saturated with reading material at the moment. It doesn't need your novel. Everyone could stop writing today, and we'd still have more literature than anyone could possibly read in a lifetime. The world doesn't need more books. Which doesn't mean I don't think good books aren't important or valuable. But I'd rather see someone take five years to craft a true masterpiece than slap out something in a month and try to hoist on an unsuspecting public. If you can write good stories that fast, more power to you, but you are a rare person.

On the other hand people writing for the joy and challenge of it is a cool thing. NaNoWriMo has helped breed a community of writers who compete with, support, and challenge each other.

I'd like to see more emphasis on quality and stronger participation in the follow up Editing challenge. Because while you may not need to start out with a fully formed plot, you do need to end up with one, or all you've accomplished is a high word count.
… (more)
LibraryThing member cygnoir
This was a fun, fast read that gave me plenty of inspiration and motivation to complete NaNoWriMo this year.
LibraryThing member erincathryn
Not a reference book for everyone, but definitely had some great tips for completing NaNoWriMo.

Also written in a way that had me giggling out loud a lot.
LibraryThing member KR_Patterson
Not necessarily the best book of practical, usable advice on writing, unless that practical advice is "stop reading and start writing". I loved it for that. It was not only very funny, but it was the first book I read (after many) that finally gave me the courage to "just do it".
LibraryThing member harrietbrown
A case can be made both for and against writing a novel in a month, just for the hell of it, but in case you decide you want to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), this is THE book to read. Chris Baty is the man who created NaNoWriMo and inspired a movement in 1999. In 2004, he published this book, which is a good guide for finishing a novel in a month, with lots of practical advice and inspiration and encouragement to keep you going. He is also very funny and will keep you entertained and turning the pages. But DON'T! Don't read ahead. This book is best used as prescribed, reading it in order throughout the month of November, at each stage of the NaNoWriMo game. If you want to read ahead, don't do it in November as you're participating in NaNoWriMo; it will only mess you up. If you must read it ahead of time, do it earlier in the year, when NaNoWriMo is a mere blip on the distant horizon. Then go back and read it again, as the author directs, in November, while you're writing your novel. That way you will derive the most benefit from the author's instruction.… (more)


Original language



Page: 0.2285 seconds