Oh, it’s that panic time! National Novel Writing Month, the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days, is only four days away!

I know lots of writers are pantsters, and just write as they go. I find if I try it, I fail.

So I’m sharing my favorite quick-and-dirty way of getting some structure in place before I start writing a novel.

It’s called the Nine Box Method. It was first referenced on Verla Kay’s Blue Boards (which are now owned by SCBWI) and has been posted about by Query Tracker and other writer-centric blogs.

I have PDFs for you!

The first one is the nine box with the explanation of what to put in each box. The idea is that you make boxes that touch connect their content in order to write a cohesive story that has tension, pacing, and flow in place.

Download the explanation box PDF

The second one contains three sample Nine Box Grids for three popular movies: The Help, Despicable Me, and Monsters, Inc. They might help you see how the nine box plays out in real stories. (I made these myself, so any bad conclusions are my own.)

Download the sample box PDF

The third one is blank so you can fill it in for YOUR project.

Download the blank box PDF

When I do my novels now, I used the Nine Box, Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet, and Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey to work out my story in multiple ways. By the time I’ve filled out all these structures, I have a solid sense of where my story begins, where it’s going, and where it’s going to end, which helps me avoid giving up, slowing down, or writing myself into a hole.

Happy Nano-ing!

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