NaNoWriMo: Getting to Grips with your Novel


Have you ever been asked what your novel is about and found yourself unable to answer? If you have, it’s most likely that you don’t know your story quite as well as you should. It’s essential that you can summarise your entire book into one or two sentences, because that’s the best way to really get to grips with it yourself. Forget your winding plot lines for a few moments and let’s get down to the basics.

First, answer these questions:

  1. What is your protagonist’s name?
  2. What genre is your novel? (If it’s a mix of many, pick the one or two that are the most prominent).
  3. What is your word count? (You probably won’t have an exact one yet, so instead write down the number of words you’re aiming for).
  4. What is your protagonist trying to achieve in the novel? What is his/her main goal?
  5. What triggers the story?
  6. Who is your antagonist?

If you’re finding that you can’t answer any of these questions for any reason, go back to the drawing board and have another look at your planning. These should all be pretty easy to answer, and shouldn’t take up more than one or two sentences each.

Now you need to combine all of this information into one sentence. That’s right, one sentence with a maximum of 60 words. Sound scary? Here’s one formula for it that works well.

(Book title) is a _____ word (genre) novel about (protagonist), a (occupation/role in story/age/personality trait) who must (main goal) after (trigger).

For example, here would be some answers to the questions above:

  1. Jack Jones
  2. Fantasy
  3. 90 000 words
  4. Needs to find the mystical globe of Oria to set his sister, Emily, free
  5. A goblin from Wath kidnaps his sister
  6. Horfin, the goblin king

Here’s a summary from those answers:

Peartha is a 90 000 word fantasy novel about Jack Jones, a pessimistic lorry driver from Earth who must find the mystical globe of Oria and travel to Wath to rescue his sister, who was kidnapped by the goblin king.

Hopefully you’ll find that completing this exercise helps you to really get to grips with your novel and understand exactly what’s going on in it. Feel free to rearrange the sentence structure to whatever you think fits your novel the best.

Have you managed to get a sentence you’re really happy with? Then enter our competition with it!

Share your sentence in the comments below or on our Facebook page for a chance to win a free edit of your first three chapters.

Competition ends on Friday 16th October.


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