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

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  4,477 ratings  ·  593 reviews
You've always wanted to write, but . . . just haven't gotten around to it. No Plot? No Problem! is the kick in the pants you've been waiting for.

Let Chris Baty, founder of the rockin' literary marathon National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo), guide you through four exciting weeks of hard-core noveling. Baty's pep talks and essential survival strategies cover the in
Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 16th 2004 by Chronicle Books (first published September 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jason Koivu
No plot?...Yes, that is a problem! Free-flow writing is like having the shits: You feel tremendous relief, but it really stinks. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad concept - forcing yourself to write a rough draft within 30 days - which is especially good for new writers, who are often timid procrastinators too anxious or lazy to even begin. In essence, what you get if you follow Baty's program is a microcosm or truncation of the usual novel beginning, a laying down of the bare-bones of your int ...more
"The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It's the lack of a deadline."
-Chris Baty, No Plot? No Problem!

I read this book several years ago and loved it. I had participated in NaNoWriMo several times and found it a thrill, even when I only managed to get 4500 words down on paper instead of the targeted 50,000.

I think some of the negative reviews of this book come from people who wanted or expected something something different. So let me begin by

This book is the companion monkey, printed tour guide, and pocket personal adviser on how to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, written by no less than the founding father of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) himself.

The official NaNoWriMo is November. But you can choose any month you'd like and follow the advice in this guide. However, it's bound to be more fun when you know there are tens of thousands of other people all over the country—the world even—doing the same thing. You

Oct 15, 2007 Cheryl rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: To all Nanowrimos everywhere!
Shelves: books-on-writing
I laughed so hard I cried when I read this book last year. I even photo-copies the Novelist Agreement, signed it, and taped it to my desk to remind myself of the commitment. Chris Baty's humorous writing pulls you along for the crazy ride that is the month of November with numerous pep talks and advice. Filled with stories from Nano's over the years it was simply joy to read.
How to write a novel in 30 days. Poorly. Not terribly impressed with the author's writing style or ideas. Too bad I got distracted about 10,000 words into my horrendous novel. The problem with the book is that it is all peptalk, and no substance. Blech.
Oct 18, 2007 Pat rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
If you're thinking about doing nanowrimo in November or you want to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days...this book will motivate you to do it. Has a lot of tips and advice. It isn't a step by step guide to generating a plot. It is a book that will make you see you can write a novel even if you don't have a plot at the start. It will keep you writing until your plot just happens..and it will happen...last year I didn't have a plot but kept writing anyways and one emerged. If the only thing stop ...more
The first time I started reading this book -- several years ago and before I had ever heard of this thing called NaNoWriMo -- I was disappointed to find that it was actually a guidebook to surviving this crazy annual event that Baty had started, in which writers commit to writing a novel of 50,000 words in one month.

What was this? I was not going to attempt something so ridiculous as writing a complete novel in 30 days. I was a serious writer.

Now, years later, I still haven't written a novel, a
I am reluctant to give this a star rating. This approach definitely wouldn’t work for me, but it could have value to someone else.

The problem I have with it is two-fold.

The project’s goal is to just get 50,000 words –any words -- onto paper within a month, and that will supposedly create a basis for a novel , and quality doesn’t matter at all, because you can “fix it” later. For me, however, the act of writing involves some pride and pleasure in choosing the right words. In a first draft, they
Laura Leaney
This was an amusing, somewhat motivating, book to read. I want to be able to think I could write a novel in 30 days, but frankly I know I'm not capable of doing so. . . . unless I was put in prison. Hmmmm. Future crime spree?

The only quality I didn't much care for is the tone affected by the author. Most of the book is written in the manner of the "Dummies" books, lightly ironic with a come-on-you-can-do-this-madcap-zany-writing thing.

It seems clear, as mentioned by Chris Baty himself, you MAY
This book was the most useful book on writing I have ever read. Most of such books are chocked full of enough second-guessing tactics to completely immobilize any writer. This book was a very freeing, encouraging excercise in lowering your standards just enough to remove the fear from sitting down and working. It helped me realize that creating a less than perfect rough draft of a complete story is infinitely better than agonizing over an emacculate first chapter of a book that will never be com ...more
C.J. Prince
I did NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for four years. I didn't discover Chris Baty's book until the last year. Any book on writing will offer something. I find I can get distracted by reading about writing rather than writing. Or distracted by remembering what I've read and playing around on this site.
This one is fun, although the title is more than a touch misleading - it's about the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) event that takes place every November (although, of course, anyone is free to attempt it in any other month they choose.)

I say it's misleading, first, because it's not low-stress, as all the advice on coping with the stress suggests. NaNoWriMo is fun stress, but it's a fair dose of it. The second reason I call it misleading is that it would be more accurate to subtitle it
Debbie Petersen
Dec 01, 2008 Debbie Petersen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: aspiring novelists
I wonder why the month of November is the chosen month for NaNoWriMo? Don't the authors have the upcoming holidays and such to take away writing time? The ideal time for me would be January, when it is too cold to go out and both of my jobs slow down for 30 days or so. Such is life, I failed to hit 50,000 words, but did get a lot of writing in before days of having to work and days of endless distraction made me fall too far behind and I felt overwhelmed. There's always next year...
Aug 11, 2008 Stephanie rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who write SOLEY as a hobby; maybe not even then
Shelves: general-nf, ugh
The basic gist of the book is quantity over quality. If you're looking for a book that gives you tips on how to write a novel WELL, stay FAR away. The main focus of the book is making yourself write a novel as soon as possible so you don't keep putting it off. It's more of a "Go YOU!" cheerleader book than anything else; which is nice for encouragement, but when used alone doesn't make for a good self-help book on writing books.

Something else that irritated me about the book was all of the unnec
I'm such a huge fan of Chris Baty's, I'm surprised I'd never picked this up before.

I did NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2002 and had my first (and only) win in 2003 during the days when Baty was still at the helm. Nowadays, the pep talks are done by successful authors, some of whom first drafted their bestsellers during NaNo. But, back then, all the pep talks were done by Baty himself. They were encouraging, funny, clever, and caring, and for me they were one of the highlights of the NaNo expe
I, once again and undertaking the task of NaNoWriMo next month. Last year, I attempted Nano but sadly, I did not win. I put No Plot? No Problem! onto my wishlist last year before Nano thinking that it may or may not be helpful in my novel writing process.

I managed to get through about two weeks of my novel before I ended up giving up. Yes, two weeks. I feel into the trap that so many others fall into. I let my inner editor run around and critique everything that I wrote.

When I read No Plot? No
Yzabel Ginsberg
May 10, 2012 Yzabel Ginsberg rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who'd like to write a novel
Shelves: writing
I haven’t left a review on this book yet, and I wonder why, because I’ve had it for ages, and I basically read it once a year (usually in November, how surprising).

Both title and theme hadn’t convinced me at first. What, writing a novel in 30 days? Just like that? But but but! Writing is serious business!
...Except that it was such serious business that I never got down to actually write more than a few chapters, no matter the story.

This book isn’t for everyone, just like the event it concerns (N
Voss Foster
I could have given this book four stars, or even three, for some of the bad advice it gives. But it's not bad advice--it's advice for the wrong person. A beginning author, deluded into thinking that you must slave away for years eating cat food and drinking whiskey needs this book. It reveals the big secrets. It's the reason I'm writing today.

Are there things I advise people against in this book? Yes. I think the strongest books come from plotting, not from blindly writing whatever you feel like
Dec 06, 2007 Leippya rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: open-minded writers, writers up to a challenge
Shelves: writing
An alternative view to writing, very fun to read. If you tend to see writing as sacred, you probably should not read it. The idea behind the book is to write a first draft very fast, in thirty days, then spend a lot of time revising. Because this book is short and the author quite funny, it makes for a relaxing read.

On another point, if you're thinking of doing NaNoWriMo, the event that's behind the book, this is a good companion to have with you. The first half is about NaNoWriMo, writing and p
Aug 06, 2007 Jane rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: wannabe writers
Shelves: writing
Last year I was introduced to NaNoWriMo -- the National Novel Writing Month, but too late to actually participate. I've been mulling it over this year -- intimidated by the prospect, but considering participating this November. This book is written by the founder of NaNoWriMo and makes the idea of writing a novel in a month actually seem doable. Anyone who dreams of writing a novel should check out the website! If participating in NaNoWriMo is tempting, check out this book for ...more
Kerri Stebbins
Dec 01, 2008 Kerri Stebbins rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who is curious about Nanowrimo, or just wants to write 50,000 words in thirty days or less.
Recommended to Kerri by: Cousin Frances!
Baty is a clever and entertaining writer, and he seems to genuinely stand behind the premise that anyone can write at least 50,000 words in thirty days or less. I actually genuinely believe him, but I'm not sure I'm a fan of his philosophy that junk writing is still worthwhile writing, mostly because I'm pretty sure I would turn a unique shade of insane if I reached my monthly word goals and had nothing usable sitting in front of me.
Re-reading it now just to hype myself up even more for this year’s nanowrimo.

Awesome little how-to book that doesn't want to make you roll your eyes all the time or "waste" your time with little exercises when all you really want to do is read and write. It's down to earth and straight to the point. A must for anyone who writes, and specially those who dream of writing but just don’t dare to JUST DO IT!
I'm about to embark on my fifth National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and boy do I wish I'd read this book a few years earlier.

NaNoWriMo is a wonderful thing. It's a challenge, a community, and a much-needed injection of delirious creativity in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, ranging from novices who have never even written a short story before to seasoned professional writers. It's also more than a little crazy-making, so anyone planning to attempt it really should get some ad
This is one of those books that insists you can write a novel in 30 days. I disagree. What you have at the end of 30 days is not a novel, but an abomination. I felt like the advice in this book was misplaced and incorrect.
This is not a well written book nor is this a good guide to writing a novel of your own. This is an over inflated introduction to NaNoWriMo, and nothing more.

I am not against NaNoWriMo, in fact, I participated last year and 'won', however, this does nothing more than explain what NaNo is and how to 'prepare' for it. And by Prepare, I mean, waste time doing things that are not writing to prepare yourself to write.

Do you like spending time thinking about what food you eat, and how to shirk respons
No Plot? No Problem! might not be the most comprehensive book on writing I've ever read, but its lightheartedness and practical advice make it the perfect companion to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

The book is broken up into several sections and is meant to be read week-to-week as the writer progresses through the month. Instead of presenting the technical, grammatical how-to of writing a novel, the book basically prepares the aspiring author for the ups and downs of attempting somet
Oct 15, 2008 Felicia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who has ever wanted to write a novel, but has been scared to try
For anyone who's going to participate in the National Novel Writing Month (November), this is an invaluable tool. For anyone who wants to write a novel period, this is an invaluable tool.

Chris Baty effectively kills your inner editor for a month, giving you a chance to write that novel you've always talked about. November's the perfect month to give noveling a shot--you'll be doing it with thousands of other people who all want to accomplish the same impossible feat: write 50 000 words in 30 day
David jones
This is a good book. I haven't really technically read this book all of the way through, nor do I plan to, so I just thought I'd review the parts of the book I have read. I mean, it is a nonfiction book about how to write a novel in 30 days, which is very interesting. The author of this book is the person who created National Novel Writing Month, which I intend to participate in this next November. There is some great advice in this book that makes me wanna write some more. When I participated i ...more
I have a separate bookshelf for books on writing. Needless to say they're just collecting dust. Honestly, most books on how to write that first novel have had the opposite effect. I'm surprised that I've somehow managed to get published considering all the useless advice I've read from some of those guides.

Enter madman and creator of National Novel Writing Month (better known as NaNoWriMo) Chris Baty. If you must have ONE book on hand to inspire you to write a novel, this is it. There's no angs
I read this book because the idea of me having anything to do with a creative writing program at the library is really funny. Lucky for the participants, I am only acting in a supporting / marketing role and have a whole huge organization with an awesome website ( from which I can steal content and advice from should someone ask or expect it from me with my "librarian" status.

That disclaimer being made - this was such a funny book! I loved it. Chris Baty is a super fun, clever guy
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  • The Writer's Guide to Character Traits: Includes Profiles of Human Behaviors and Personality Types
  • 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them
  • Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish
  • The Weekend Novelist
  • Page After Page: Discover the Confidence & Passion You Need to Start Writing & Keep Writing (No Matter What!)
  • The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing
  • The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction
  • Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints
  • 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters
  • Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go
  • The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life
  • Writing the Breakout Novel
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print
  • Characters and Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Description & Setting
  • Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Bullies, Bastards & Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction
  • The Writer's Idea Book
The No Plot? No Problem! Novel-Writing Kit Chicago City Guide (Lonely Planet City Guide) The NaNoLand Chronicles Ecrivez Un Roman En 30 Jours Ready, Set, Novel!: A Workbook

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“A novel rough draft is like bread dough; you need to beat the crap out of it for it to rise.” 57 likes
“A deadline is, simply put, optimism in its most kick-ass form. It's a potent force that, when wielded with respect, will level any obstacle in its path. This is especially true when it comes to creative pursuits.” 48 likes
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