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on 30 May 2006
As one of those people who have "Write a novel" as one of the things on my "Someday/Maybe" lists, I accidentally found myself on the NaNoWriMo website.

Thinking that the whole concept is what I need, to actually force myself to start, I thought I'd get up to speed and buy the book. I fully had the intention of reading it now, doing the writing course I've been procrastinating on for 3 years and then do the challenge in 2007.

Well I read the book in an evening.

Ok, you won't gleam much insight into actually how to write a novel (there are plenty of other books to do that, plus the website has some great information in the forums).

What you get is a very witty (it made me cry with laughter in places) walk through how to prepare and cope through a stessful, painful, delightful, enjoyable etc month whilst you do a, possibly very bad, first draft of your novel.

With tips from past winners, the authors own struggles and the fact that you really are going for quantity over quality. This really has motivated me into contemplating actually entering this competition this year.

Plus how to use fear to get yourself to succeed is a particular useful bit of information I will be using in other aspects of my life.

If you have any interest in writing (or art or music for that matter), then this is an enjoyable romp through how to temporarily motivate yourself to a concentrated burst of creative output.

Lets hope my novel isn't as waffly as this review!
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on 14 September 2006
If you're like me, teetering on the brink of writing a novel but never quite feeling confident that you've researched enough, are talented enough, or have the tenacity to see it through, then read this book. I tried the nanowrimo last July after reading it, and since then have written another one, and am just embarking on my third. What Baty helps you to see is that the first draft is not meant to be a work of great fiction, in fact it's better if it isn't. So go on, get your feet dirty and don't worry about it. I'm enjoying the process so much! It's amazing what you do know when you start to write!
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on 22 May 2010
Just as the previous reviewer did, I bought three of these kits, after initially buying one. I fell in love with this kit so much that I did not want to use it. That is why I bought three more, for myself, or to give away, or both, I haven't decided yet.

Inside the kit you will find:
- a 'novelist' button, so everyone will know what you are
- a progress log sheet, to keep track of your daily input of words. And a set of gold star stickers, for every day you exceed your daily target
- 'ask me about my novel' stickers, to put on your desk, your door, your novel writing note pad...
- I owe you notes, to make you pay for every day you fail to meet your daily target
- a contract binding you to finish your novel
- a sealed emergency envelope, for if you are about to quit the project
- a set of playing card sized daily assignments
- a small handbook, to get and keep you going.

All in lovely colours, mainly orange and a beautiful colour blue.

The aim of the kit is to have fun writing your - probably trashy - novel. Quantity is what counts, and not giving up, in stead of quality (you will judge the quality after you have finished, if you like, that is).

If you want to go for quality from day one, buy 'a book in a month', by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, or better still, buy them both. And buy the just as wonderful, highly motivating 'no plot, no problem' guide book, too, if you can afford it, also by Chris Baty. All available at Amazon.

Have Fun!!
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on 28 November 2005
Other books talk about writing as a serious art form, or as a blood, sweat and tears way of earning a living.
This book is for the "I'd write a novel if I only had the time" crowd - which are what most participants of the National Novel Writing Month Challenge (aka nanowrimo) are. If you are looking for a book on how to write the great novel, this one just lightly skims over what you've probably read in other books. Pass it by.
If you are looking for a book that says: "Shut your internal editor in a cage for 30 days and Get The Book Out of Your System", this is a book worth buying. It won't help you write the Great Novel, but it will motivate you, my fellow closet scribblers, to feel great about writing the one you're thought about writing, even if the end result seems poor. Because, bad or good, you can look into the mirror and say I wrote a 50,000 word work of fiction in 30 days.
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on 13 April 2010
To date I have bought 3 of these kits for myself and others. For any budding writer who wants to take the novel plunge, it is fun and if a body follows the directions one may well have a novel at the end of it. I moved house in the middle of writing mine so didn't do it 30 days but am well up for the challenge again. When I first got it I was tickled with the paraphernalia that comes with it. Someone who bangs on about writing a book might actually do it if they got this.
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6 months ago I finished my latest non fiction book (about the 3rd battle of Ypres in WW1) and after it's first edit, gave it to my trusted friends to critique. Three days later they asked me out for a coffee and told me that the although book was good, what I had actually produced had real potential as a novel, one that they would put forward to their agent if it worked - and they really thought it would work.


7 non fiction books, a stack of articles, and now a novel?
Plot? Character? Story Arc? Dialogue? I'd never even thought of it, let alone tried the genre. So I sent quite a few authors here on Amazon some money to help me move forward.

And instead of moving forward, imagine a rather large Rabbit and rather bright Headlights.
Everything stopped.

Where I had been comfortable putting words together that told readers about events, I now had to learn to show a reader a scene, and where in the past words just seemed to flow, now I became obsessed with getting the story right; which in turn led to untold frustration as I found I was doing anything rather than 'get on'.
I bought this book thinking it was about helping me with a plot (which it doesn't - other reviewers here have pointed that out very clearly), what it did do was sit me down and talk to me about letting words just come out.

His Inner Editor analogy was in itself worth the price of the book for me, as that is exactly where my problem lay.

If you want to enter NaNoWriMo, this book is the ideal kickstarter, it's packed with hints about where to find the time to write, and a week by week methodology of how to fulfill the required 50k word quota - but if you write a lot, and for any reason you've hit a snag, as I had - No Plot provides you with real motivation.
Does it work?
For me undoubtedly, I read it through very early this morning, then sat down this afternoon with a completely different mindset and (drum roll) - the hare is off and running, with 6000 words already inside Scrivener. And words that I am happy with.
Chris Baty does the equivalent here of sitting across the table from you and having a good old (very funny) chat where he passes on his ideas and guidance. Some might not fit, but lots will.
Well worth the money.
Sorry to bang on a bit,
I'll get my coat.
Hope this helped.
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on 31 January 2005
This is a wonderful book: inspiring, full of practical tips and advice and funny and well written into the bargain. Anyone who's ever wanted to write a novel should read it. Anyone who's ever got stuck while trying to write a novel should read it. Highly recommended.
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on 4 June 2013
o, I've been trying to write a novel on and off for the past decade. Without even a hint of success. I've tried to do the event known as NaNoWriMo several times but never achieved anything. So when I found this book in my local library, I was pretty intrigued. This is a guide to writing a novel in 30 days, written by the founder of NaNoWriMo.

This is a giant kick up the arse for anybody like me who has the ideas but lacks the motivation to write a novel. It's full of tips on getting started, keeping the momentum going and how to get rid of your internal editor for the month.

It was a fairly quick read but I came away from it feeling like I had the drive to write and complete a novel and sat down at my desk straight away. I'd recommend this book to any budding writer.
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on 10 November 2008
I'm not 100% convinced that I should be giving this book five stars, as it has the potential to be misleading as to what you can expect from it; but given the number of times I've read it in the past year, the number of times it has made me laugh out loud, and so on, I'm giving the benefit of the doubt. (And maybe it'll balance out a certain gent who gave it one star when he'd not even read it ;))

This book is emphatically NOT a writing manual, style guide, whatever. It does exactly what it says on the tin: gets you trying (and in many cases succeeding) to write a shortish novel in 30 days. The quality of said novel might be a little ropey, depending on talent, time, etc, but quite literally thousands of people have found to their surprise and delight that it works.

This isn't a book about how to write the perfect, finished novel; it's about getting a rough draft down on paper so you have something to work with, - and many, many people continue to prove that, yes, you can do that in the space of a month.

It's also not really about producing something that can necessarily be edited into a publishable script. This is sometimes a happy side effect, but it isn't the main point of the book: this book approaches writing the same way most non-professionals approach golf, dancing, music - novel writing as recreation, rather than potential job.

This book is about getting people writing fiction and getting them over the first hurdle, NOT about producing finished, publisher-worthy books in a month. A small but significant number of nanowrimo participants go on to get their polished up book-in-a-month efforts published - a couple of such success stories are mentioned in the book whose books are widely available - so it undoubtedly can be done, but it isn't really the intended end result for all nanowrimo books.

This book won't suit everyone's needs, but it's a great, entertaining little bundle of encouragement, amusement, and blackmail designed to stop you saying "one day I'll write a novel" and say instead "I'm going to write a novel and I'm going to do it now".

If you're looking for detailed ways to plan your novel, grammar guides, style, exercises, etc, this book is not for you (or certainly not on its own). If you're an accomplished writer who has no problems with motivation, similarly, this book may not be what you're looking for (though some established writers have successfully used NaNo as a springboard to reinvigorate their writing or get them over writer's block). If what you need is a kick up the backside to get you writing and get your novel off your chest, then it's certainly worth your while, because that is exactly what this book plans to deliver, and it does it exceedingly well and in an entertaining fashion.

I'm currently mid-wrimo, after starting late and continuing my story post wrimo '07. I've written more in the last year than I ever have in my life on any one project (indeed, possibly just more than I've ever written: 55K and counting) and more in the last 10 days (nearly 20K) than I have ever written in a time frame less than months... largely due to the inspiration, encouragement, and sheer blackmail tactics of nanowrimo and this book. If your creative side needs kicking into gear, then I personally cannot recommend this highly enough.

update: I won NaNo on the 28th, and boy did it feel good.

For anyone wondering if something worthwhile can come out of a rough draft put together in one short month... I have recently found out that Water For Elephants, Sara Gruen's New York Times bestseller, currently in production as a Hollywood movie, started out life as a nano novel. Need I say more?
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on 27 March 2005
If you want a proverbial boot applied to the seat of your pants in a good humoured and encouraging way, this is the book for you. You'll find it especially helpful if you're feeling isolated, as Chris comes up with all the problems that every writer has, but thinks they're the only one. He also gives some friendly advice as to how those problems might be solved or by-passed. It helped me when I'd been stuck for months. Give it a try!
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