NaNoWriMo Preptober: Does Your First Draft Need Story Structure?

You have your cast of characters ready and you’re all excited about your story idea, right? But maybe you started doing research on Story Structure and now you’re super confused.  Save the Cat, Hero’s Journey, Three Act vs Four Act?!  It’s all so overwhelming and my not so popular opinion is I don’t think you need to worry about structure right now.

Listen, I think structure is fine, overall, but I feel like if you try to shoehorn your book into a specific structure now you’re going to box yourself in and not have room to grow or explore as you write.  Trying to put your story into beats or acts before you even know what your story is about is going to cause problems, and be a complete waste of time.

So…what do I think you need? I’m so glad you asked…just the basics!  Beginning, middle, and end. 

If you have a deck of Tarot cards, you can do the simple three card spread I show below in my YouTube video or you can just start asking yourself the following questions;


  • How do you want your story to start? 
  • Who is the main character and what are they doing? 
  • How are they feeling? 
  • What’s happened right before we start our story?
  • What do you need to know to start writing your book?



  • What do I need to know about my main character right now?
  • What does the reader need to know?
  • What do I need to know about the antagonist or antagonistic force?
  • What kinds of conflict do I need to be aware of, or need to add to further the plot?
  • How can I continue to move the story forward?



  • How do you want your story to end?
  • How has your main character changed?
  • How have they stayed the same?
  • What lessons did they learn?
  • What’s different in your world?
  • How does the ending relate to the beginning?
  • What plotlines might need to be resolved?



Once you do this, if you’d like to pull more Tarot cards or think about how your characters go from Beginning to Middle or Middle to End, feel free, but you can also just stop right now and do more exploration when we get to Outlining during Week 4 of Preptober, where I’ll show you how I flesh this out into a workable, flexible plan. 

If you’re doing National Novel Writing Month this year and would like some extra accountability, writing exercises, tarot spreads, and more – then join my FREE group and receive a workbook of fun ideas right away!! And in November I’ll be hosting weekly Zoom writing sessions so we can up our word count together. 

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