Planning and Prewriting for NaNoWriMo

I constantly require that my students prewrite before they draft anything.  I tell them over and over that a prewrite doesn’t need to be extensive, it just needs to happen.

I believe prewriting is helpful to a writer in so many ways, and it doesn’t make anyone any less of a “good” or “strong” writer if he or she makes a plan first.  In fact, I believe it is the opposite.  Prewriting allows you to get your good ideas down before you forget them.  It’s helpful in getting all the bad ideas out of the way so you can actually get to the good ones.  It’s a great way to just get started and avoid potential writer’s block.

For narratives, I let my students choose from a number of prewriting strategies.  1)  They can “interview themselves” and ask Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? questions about their story.  2)  They can draw out a plot mountain and fill in the major plot points.  3)  They can fill in the phrase:   ______________ wanted ___________________ but ___________________________ and so _______________________.  4)  They can draw a diagram for the beginning, the middle, and the end.  They just HAVE to prewrite before they attempt any sort of draft.

This image I found covers a number of the prewriting strategies I teach my students to use…and a few that I’m using myself this NaNoWriMo! Source: on 10/28/12

Well, with such a serious commitment — of writing an ENTIRE NOVEL in 30 days — ahead of me, I am listening closely to my own advice and using a few prewrite strategies.  I’ve completed the “interview” with myself already, and I’m happy to tell you that the working name for my protagonist is going to be Katie.

I’ve also started an outline which includes potential chapter titles.  (I absolutely love reading books with interesting chapter titles…Sharon Creech has had some great ones.  Sometimes reading through the titles alone is just so poetic.)  I know that I want to title my individual chapters…and have a couple in mind already.

Katie and I have a pretty big journey ahead of us, but at least, now, we have a general sense of where we are going.

3 more days until we begin!


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