NaNoWriMo Part 2: Setting and Outline

Welcome to part two of my NaNoWriMo series. In this post we're going over creating your setting and outline. Let's begin.


Choosing a setting is important. In good novels it can become a character in it's own right. You need to choose a setting carefully, making sure it works with your story. The wrong one can wreck a perfectly good story, while the right one makes the whole story shine.

The first consideration is what time you want it to take place. Modern day California? The future? Settings can be in one place or several, especially if it's a quest. Next, figure out where you want it to be. Don't forget to think outside the box. Try not to be cliche in your choices. Can you change the setting to give your story a different feel?

Once you've figured out the setting, you need to learn as much about it as you can (if it's real) or worldbuild (if it's fictional). Take notes, watch videos, whatever you need. A good setting is not exactly unnoticeable, but it does need to keep your reader in the story. If you make a big mistake, your reader will be jerked out of the world you've worked so hard on. That's why in editing you should always check your facts.


Your outline is a map to your story, at least if you're a planner. If you're a pantster, it may seem more of a box to trap you. But I can't function without knowing at least a little bit about where my story's going. When I've tried to write without an outline, it turns into a befuddled mess and I have to write one anyway.

Before you work on the outline, you need to have some things decided. POV, audience, and possibly theme. These will all aid you in your outline creation. I always get to know my characters before I write the outline as well. I can't work on the plot without knowing how my characters will react in such and such situation.

There are many ways to plot your story. You can make a bullet list, an essay type outline, a synopsis, a chapter by chapter outline, and more. This article from Now Novel gives a good overview of the different types. But you don't have to follow just one. I personally use a mixture of approaches. Make your outline work for you.

That's all for today. If you missed it, here's part one. I'll see you in two weeks with part three.

How do you outline your novels? What do you think about setting? Let me know in the comments.


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