Plot and Story Building Tips to Plan Your Novel for NaNoWriMo

Plan Your Novel Tip #5 Brainstorm Your Plot and Story

Today is the fifth in an 8-post series on planning your novel for Nanowrimo. In today’s post, we focus on plot and story building tips. 

If you missed it, the first step in your novel preparation is your elevator pitch and the second step is crafting your story synopsis. The third post on preparing your characters is here. The fourth post is here on world building. (All the posts are here.)

(Updated from first publication in 2014.)

Keep in mind: Take note of your genre. This will give you a general idea of the story structure your readers expect and help you think of ways to surprise them.

Time to budget: I recommend you take at least 2 sessions of 60-90 minutes to do this exercise for your story.


Plot and Story Building Tips

1. Brainstorm the high concept of your story. This will help you think of the kind of events and problems you can put into your story.

The Jewish version of The Da Vinci Code
Lara Croft meets Lord of the Rings
Snakes on a Plane
Die Hard on a Ship

2. Make a list of all the bad things that could happen to your characters. Then organize the bad things in order of least bad to most bad.

3. Make a list of all the events that your readers most likely expect in your genre and type of story, then see how you can twist the events to surprise your readers.


Here’s an image to share or pin and use for your world building brainstorming!

3 Plot & Story Development Tips to Plan Your Novel by Beth Barany


Further Reading

For more examples of the High Concept pitch, check out the previous post on Writer’s Fun Zone by Ezra Barany:

How to Write the Perfect Pitch to Sell Your Novel In Person


Would you like hands-on support to plan and write your novel?


If you’d like hands-on support to plan your novel with your peers and with experienced instructors — Beth and Ezra Barany, then join us for our next course starting October 1st: 30-Day Writing Challenge to Plan Your Novel.

Sign up for the wait list here.

You can join the home study course at any time here.

Plan Your Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It! by Beth and Ezra Barany, Available where all books are sold!


You can also check out our newest book, Plan Your Novel Like A Pro, here!

This book will help you get excited to plan your novel. The tools shared here are designed to spark your muse and give you confidence when you sit down to write your story. Plan Your Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It! is for organic writers and pansters who want a roadmap to follow, so that they can let their creativity loose.

“Beth’s book is like plotting for pantsers!”—Tess Rider, Science Fantasy Romance Author



Happily married for over 18 years, Beth and Ezra Barany help authors reach their dreams.

Beth Barany, an award-winning novelist and certified Creativity Coach for Writers, runs Barany Consulting, a coaching and consulting firm dedicated to helping novelists write, publish, and market their books. She’s the author of the award-winning young adult fantasy series, Henrietta The Dragon Slayer, and the paranormal sweet romance collection, Touchstone Series. She’s currently working on a science fiction mystery series.

Ezra Barany, an award-winning novelist and the bestselling author of The Torah Codes series, is also a teacher and mentor.

Together they help authors get their books out into the world.


Tip #6: A unique way to develop conflict in your story for pantsers

List of all 8 tips here.

Downloadable Checklist

Use this checklist to make notes and follow along. (Downloadable PDF. No need to sign up for anything!)

You may also like...

  • Manik says:

    The way you explained the entire thing in less words is amazing, but one question that jumbled up while reading through the words is :
    Sometimes it happens that the story shaped in a different direction which is actually you haven’t planned, and because of that the entire story plot got twisted, how to handle this type of condition.

  • Beth Barany says:

    It usually doesn’t happen if I know my characters well. But I’ve seen it happen to some of my writers. They roll with it and make new decisions about the direction of their story. How have you handle this type of situation, Manik?

  • >