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Sunday, October 1

Get Ready for NaNo! At-Home Workshop: Idea to Novel in 31 Days

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Welcome to the home page of my newest at-home workshop, Idea to Novel in 31 Days. While this workshop is aimed at writers who plan to do NaNo next month (National Novel Writing Month), it’s just as useful for anyone who wants a little guidance and motivation to develop a novel. Just like my at-home revision workshop, this is a work-at-your-own-pace kind of deal. Take as much time as you need per step.

This page will be home base throughout the workshop. You’ll find links to the daily tasks as they go live (scroll down), so you’ll have an easy reference to bookmark or share. Subscribing to the RSS feed will also ensure you get the daily articles emailed right to you.

This workshop is based on my book, Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure. It's the Cliff Notes version, and gives a taste of what the book covers. Planning Your Novel has considerably more information, examples, brainstorming questions, and novel options to help you develop your novel, so if you enjoy the information and format here, I highly recommend getting the book. It's 300 pages of helpful information and guides, broken into easy-to-follow workshops that focus on the individual things to consider when creating a novel or a novel series. Some of you might even want to pick up the book and/or the Planning Your Novel Workbook, and follow along with it at home. You’ll get a lot more educational information than what’s here (there’s only so much I can do in a single daily article).

Workshop Steps By Day

Day One: Idea to Novel Workshop: Brainstorm Your Idea
Day Two: Idea to Novel Workshop: Develop Your Hook 
Day Three: Idea to Novel Workshop: What's Driving Your Plot? 
Day Four: Idea to Novel Workshop: Creating Your Characters
Day Five: Idea to Novel Workshop: Developing Your Protagonist
Day Six: Idea to Novel Workshop: Creating the Novel's Conflict
Day Seven: Idea to Novel Workshop: Developing Your Antagonist
Day Eight: Idea to Novel Workshop: Developing the Character Arcs
Day Nine: Idea to Novel Workshop: Choosing a Point of View Style
Day Ten: Idea to Novel Workshop: Choosing Your Point-of-View Characters
Day Eleven: Idea to Novel Workshop: Finding Your Theme
Day Twelve: Idea to Novel Workshop: Choosing Your Setting
Day Thirteen: Idea to Novel Workshop: Determining Your Goals
Day Fourteen: Idea to Novel Workshop: Discovering Your External Conflicts
Day Fifteen: Idea to Novel Workshop: Discovering Your Internal Conflicts
Day Sixteen: Idea to Novel Workshop: Finding Your Stakes
Day Seventeen: Idea to Novel Workshop: Turning Your Idea into a Summary Line
Day Eighteen: Idea to Novel Workshop: Turning the Summary Line Into a Summary Blurb
Day Nineteen: Idea to Novel Workshop: Create the Most Basic of Outlines
Day Twenty: Idea to Novel Workshop: Developing Your Plot
Day Twenty-One: Idea to Novel Workshop: The Opening Scene
Day Twenty-Two: Idea to Novel Workshop: The Inciting Event
Day Twenty-Three: Idea to Novel Workshop: The Act One Problem
Day Twenty-Four: Idea to Novel Workshop: Act Two Choice
Day Twenty-Five: Idea to Novel Workshop: The Midpoint Reversal
Day Twenty-Six: Idea to Novel Workshop: The Act Two Disaster 
Day Twenty-Seven: Idea to Novel Workshop: The Act Three Plan
Day Twenty-Eight: Idea to Novel Workshop: The Climax
Day Twenty-Nine: Idea to Novel Workshop: The Wrap Up
Day Thirty: Idea to Novel Workshop: Summarize Your Novel
Day Thirty-One: Idea to Novel Workshop: Prepare to Write!

How This Works

Every day in October I'll focus on one step of developing a novel and provide tasks for writers to complete. The plan is to complete one step a day, but we all know novels have minds of their own and don’t always stick to a schedule, so don’t worry if some steps require more time than others. Depending on the novel and the writer, some steps will be easy, while others will take longer than a single day.

This might be a 31-day program, but take as much time as you need and don’t feel pressured to keep up if that will hurt or hinder your process. These steps are intended to guide you if you’re not sure where to start, motivate you on those days when writing is tough, and encourage you to keep writing by breaking the process into manageable pieces. It’ll still be on the site when you’re ready to move on to the next step, even if that’s months from now.

What You’ll Need

An idea, even if it’s rough. This workshop is aimed at writers who already know basically what they want to write about (though the book itself offers more on finding ideas). The goal is to take that idea and develop the characters, setting, conflicts, and plot so you can dive in come November 1 and write like wind to hit your 50,000 words.

A Peek at the Process

The workshop will focus on the elements of the story first, then move on to the specifics of plotting. You’ll flesh out your idea, create your characters, develop your setting, and get a general sense of goals, conflicts, and stakes before digging into the more specific plotting and structure turning points. It’s all about getting the story solid, then figuring out the best way to tell that story. This workshop is intended to motivate and guide you, not heap more stress on you, so don’t feel you have to answer every question or do every exercise if you don’t want to.

The At-Home Workshop and Guest Authors

Just because October will have this special planning focus doesn’t mean it’ll be all plotting all the time. I’ll still be running my usual guest author and indie author columns, so you’ll get double the fun (and articles) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the Real Life Diagnostics and Writing Prompts on the weekends.

Who’s ready to plan their novel?


  1. Yay! Just like the revision series, this comes at a great time for me... I'm trying to plot this book, whereas I entirely pantsed the last one. :)

    1. Awesome! Hope it works well for you.

  2. Sounds like the perfect workshop!

  3. Great timing for me too! I already have all your books, but this sounds like a fun way to get my latest WIP off the ground. Thanks!

    1. Aw, thanks! I hope so. A little nudge to do something every day can be a great motivator :)

  4. I'm amazed at the timing for me as well. Question: Is it best to have all five hooks be strong, or focus on a few. I see two of mine are weak.

    1. As long as one is strong enough to carry the novel you're fine. You just need something that will grab readers and want to make them read the book.

  5. I'm excited to follow along with this workshop! In previous years of NaNoWriMo, I have mostly written as a 'pantser' with very little planned ahead. This year I am trying to plan quite a bit, and this workshop has been immensely helpful so far. Thanks so much!

    1. Most welcome! I hope it helps you find the right amount of planning you need to be the most productive :)