NaNo Prep 101: Developing a Story Idea You're Passionate About

We’re launching an official NaNo Prep 101 workshop! Whether this is your first time tackling a novel, or your fifteenth, our NaNo Prep 101 course is here to help you get ready to reach our 50,000-word goal.

How do you get involved?

  • Bookmark our NaNo Prep 101 landing page!
  • Every week, we’ll focus on one straightforward preparation exercise.
  • If you feel like you can do even more, check out that week’s additional resources…
  • Then come discuss how your weekly NaNo Prep is going right here!

This Week: Develop a Story Idea You’re Passionate About

Some people struggle to come up with a novel idea that excites them! Some people are idea machines, but have a hard time committing to one. Tackle this week’s exercise to focus on finding inspiration… and then hone in on a few ideas that spark your creative passion.

Check out the exercise: Four Ways to Develop an Idea

How do you approach developing your ideas? Do you have a plethora of plot bunnies at all times, or do you find it harder to come up with something you want to actually write?


Clicking the link to the NaNo Prep 101 page takes me just to the page. A second try brought me to the NaNo Prep page, but with a ‘something went wrong’ message. A third try was successful. :slight_smile:


I’ve been finding this, too! We’ve got some weird and aggressive caching issues we still haven’t fixed; thank you for the detailed report!


Facebook link doesn’t work either!

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Hmm… I’m having a hard time duplicating this error! Could you try a hard refresh of the NaNo Prep 101 page, and see if the Facebook link is still broken for you?

Success story to let you know it’s working for some, I opened it and it’s beautifulllll thank you ^^

It definitely takes me a little longer to come up with ideas I want to write. I found my current idea by… pilfering ideas from previous drafts. I will pour everything I love into this one, muahaha. Somehow this frankenidea is its own thing and shiny and new! Still lots to do to develop it though, so, watches thread :eyes:


For me, it’s also working!

The first exercise about rewriting an existing story really helped me to spark some ideas. I knew I wanted to write a story loosely based on another novel. Looking to that from different angles, really gave me some good ideas.

Most of the time I have a plethora of plot bunnies, but no way to make a coherent story from them. Settings and characters most of the time come naturally to me. But I often struggle with finding a fitting plot and conflict. Any tips on that?


SO many plot bunnies. Constantly. Even when I’m creatively dead and can’t write a word. They just keep coming. Constantly. Blood around their mouths. Fangs bared.

Send help.


I’m glad I found this early enough. I have tried twice now to write a detailed murder mystery and I have failed epically both times. If I can get the drafts cleaned up enough I may give it a third attempt during Nano or I may try to follow this to get to where I need to.

I normally pants everything. I find that if I completely pants my way through one project and find an ending even if it is “big battle, the end” then it works for me. If I need to note down an idea, I write a brief one sentence summary of it and come back to it later. However I usually say I’m just going to write down one bunny and they go and multiply on me when I turn my back. The joys. My other major issue is editing.


That’s so exciting! Have you done any developing work with your frankenidea (love this term, btw) yet?

Yes! Plot and conflict is coming up in a couple weeks, but some of the exercises in this week’s idea-generating exercise might help, too. If you have a decent handle on setting and characters, try rewriting your summary with different characters as the MCs and see what changes!

Other folks have ideas on how to flesh out a plot bunny?

I’m a little jealous!! I would love to have this problem, haha. How do you end up filtering them/deciding which ones to focus on?

Ooh, I just met a couple of Wrimos who were writing murder mysteries and it seemed both really fun and something hard to pants. What went wrong for you?


I think I made it too complex, but also because I was trying to keep it as real as possible, I just find the normal world boring compared to writing sci fi and fantasy. I had to resort to throwing in fantasy elements to make it work. I mean the base idea is sound and it’s something I’ve seen done well multiple times. I think it may have something to do with my mind just not working that way. I like murder mysteries but I usually figure it out too quickly. Trying to write one sounds like so much fun, but at the same time I think it’s more that my brain won’t work the right way to make it work. If I can plan it out proper without losing the spark that would be excellent but I may have to merge it into one of my fantasy worlds to really pay it off. My hat is truly off to anyone who can write them though.


Yeah! I’ve got sticky notes all over my wall as a mood board (strong recommend, @arinaB) , I’ve got some character notes, and I’ve got a general idea of where I want the story to go–technically I’ve got a summary that goes start to finish, it’s just high level and I just have a lot more to think about for how to get there.

I think my next step is probably just jotting down some random scene ideas I’d like to write for my characters, whether they apply to the plot or not, and seeing if sorting through those gives me ideas.


Some of them are pretty obviously duds. Some of them are exciting and people would definitely love them–but I don’t have the skill to write them, or the desire to do the ridiculous amount of research it would take to get them off the ground, or something similar: not the idea’s fault, but a mismatch between the idea and the writer. Some of them are good ideas, and I could write them well, but I just don’t get that excited about them.

The rest, the ones that are good ideas that I can write well and that I get excited about? They constantly fight each other in my head. Writing all of them down keeps them somewhat calm, but really it’s not a matter of choosing an idea, more that one of them emerges victorious for a while, until some other plot bunny overtakes it and makes me think about it constantly.


Oh, I really should not have engaged in the whole “rewrite the summaries to get new ideas” exercise. Now I have three new ideas I really don’t need floating in the midst of my one idea that I must, without giving in, work on. I toted it out to Nano last fall but it really was nowhere near ready to be written. It still isn’t but I made such headway that I wan’t to try again.

Curse you, plotbunnies, curse you and all your kin.


I have charactes and no plot at this point. I have a vague world. But I have no idea what the heck they’re doing


Oh I’m so looking forward to this. I’m always swarmed with plot bunnies but never know what to actually write until close to the last second, cause I can’t never seem to make something feel… good, I suppose. This should help me at least narrow it down. And characters are my strong suit so I shouldn’t have problems there I guess? :sweat_smile:

And at the very least, I do have a vague idea of the genre I want this time (fantasy!). Though I’ll probably also pick up at least twenty more plot bunnies on the way.


Usually when I develop my ideas I tend to either take something existing but that I didn’t like the way it was done, and I glue that to a few other ideas–something like the first exercise! But I also love worldbuilding, so I tend to go world-inward when I make things–I have a setting, and try to find the conflicts and plots in it. That’s less guaranteed to result in a plot, though.


Earlier this year I saw a wildly dramatic argument between a couple at a wedding; turns out their drama was shocking and wickedly good. Every other idea I toss around just isn’t as juicy, so it’s an easy decision.


I"ve had a dream and that just turned into a story idea! I pitched it to a couple of friends and they were also very excited about it :slight_smile: