hello everybody my name is natalya Lee and I am the author of the young adult novels highborn and wave Spears and NaNoWriMo season is officially upon us it is October which means there is less than a month before NaNoWriMo begins and today I'm going to share with you the method that I use to come up with novel ideas and story ideas when I have no idea what I want to write so let's get started so sometimes story ideas will just hit you and you know exactly what you want to write it you have fully formed characters in your head you see beautiful settings and all these scenes are played out before you and if that happens it's fantastic I have had that happen to me before actually one of my novels way of Spears was prompted by a dream that I had it was just one scene in a dream and I knew what I wanted to write but that doesn't happen very often so if you do not know what you want to write yet then I am here to help you because I'm going to share the method that I use when I am really stuck to come up with novel ideas so if you already have my prepped overworked book then go ahead and turn to page three but if you do not have my prepped overworked book it's totally fine no problem just grab yourself a pen and a piece of paper and let's get started so we want to come up with a story idea that you are really going to love and that you're going to be able to stick with NaNoWriMo is difficult okay I'm not going to lie to you it is hard to write 50,000 words in a month but it is absolutely doable and having a story idea that really inspires you and pumps you up and makes you want to write will really help you cross that finish line into the 50,000 word realm all right first up I want you to start by making a list of your favorite movies novels folktales etc so the purpose of this is that I want you to get a closer look at your favorite stories so that you can start breaking them down and figuring out why those are your favorite stories some of my favorites include the Raven boys by Maggie Stiefvater the Scorpio races by Maggie Stiefvater Twilight by Stephenie Meyer the movie Troy the movie brave and the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins when I start breaking these down I can start seeing similar aspects between the different movies and books so for example we have Twilight and the Scorpio races that both of those have fantasy elements in them the Scorpio races is about kind of man-eating horses that come out of the sea and Twilight is of course about vampires and both of those have a very kind of magical mysterious feeling to them which I will get to later and that's one of the reasons that I love those all right next up we are going to write out a list of moods and when I say mood I want you to think about what you feel when you're reading those favorite books or when you're watching your favorite movies for example when I am watching brave which is one of my very favorite movies I get this feeling of magic and history and it makes me want to listen to like Irish Scottish Gaelic kind of music Celtic music and this is a mood than it puts me and it makes me feel a certain way so when you're looking back on all of those stories that you wrote down for the story box think about what mood all of those put you in and then start writing all of those moods down some of my moods include magical mysterious dark whimsical and then I wrote fairy tale because I like the feeling of watching something or reading something that makes me feel like I'm in a fairy tale or makes me feel like I'm in a folktale I really enjoy that and enjoying that feeling of like whimsy and being in a fairy tale is part of what really inspired me to write song of the Dryad so you're going to start seeing how personally for me a lot of the aspects of song of the Dryad or way of spheres will be included in these lists that I'm making because this is kind of a master list you can continue coming back to these things to come up with more and more and more story ideas this isn't just going to help you with one this can help you many many times alright now that you are done writing out all the moods that your favorite stories make you feel and that you are interested in kind of evoke in a reader it is time to move on – Jean rrah so if you don't know what genre you want to write in maybe you've never written a book before this is your very first book and you don't really know which way to go then look back at the list of your favorite stories and look at what those genres are most of mine our young adult and a lot of them have to do with fantasy or urban fantasy I do enjoy contemporary but I prefer a hint of magic in all of my books so for genre I wrote down young adult new adult urban fantasy romance because I love when there's kind of a side plot of romance versus the main plot and also adventure if you are still stuck then I would recommend looking at your bookshelf nearby picking out some of your favorite books and then looking to see what genres those are in if you have primarily romance on your shelves then maybe you want to try writing a romance novel or if you have primarily thriller novels on your shelves then maybe you want to try writing a thriller for NaNoWriMo so not everybody writes in the genre that they enjoy reading but many people do if you really enjoy reading stories of a certain genre then you will probably enjoy writing one of those stories as well next up it is time to work on the settings box and again remember if you do not have the workbook it's okay just write settings with a line under it and you are good to go so I want you to think about what settings kind of inspire you to write or what kind of settings would you like to explore some more so some of the settings that I wrote down in my box are mountains forests castles boarding school nature small villages a post-apocalyptic world foggy woods and rainy or snowy weather so again I'm gonna look at this and I'm gonna say okay forests I wrote about forests and song of the Dryad I also wrote about rainy or snowy weather and I wrote about foggy woods because I'm really interested in all of those settings and they came to life in song the Dryad let me look at way of spirit again I wrote about forests I wrote about mountains I wrote about a small village so you can continue coming back to these things that you really love and build many many many stories off of them this is kind of your foundation I look at it as my foundation because any time I want to write a new novel I can come back to these lists and I can come back to what inspires me and I can get new ideas just by looking at all of this laid out all right once you have finished writing all of your settings down that you would like to write about it is time to move on to characters and you can do this a couple different ways the first way you can do this is make a list of your favorite characters and then make a list of some of their qualities for example maybe Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games is one of your very favorite characters and some of her characteristics might be brave protective a good older sister strong independent or maybe Harry Potter is one of your favorite characters and maybe you're really interested in him because he's brave because he is an orphan and he has overcome such tremendous grief and loss so that is the first option here is to write down a list of the names of your favorite characters and then write down some of their characteristics and then the second option is to write down types of characters that you really enjoy reading about and this is what I did so some of mine are warriors strength witches shamans outcasts rebels the monarchy siblings and a power couple so these are some of the characters that I really love to read about like personally I'm just fascinated by monarchies and kings and queens and like the power struggle within a system like that I also really love reading about siblings I myself have a younger sister so it's really interesting for me to read about how other siblings work together and what their relationships are like so those are your two different options again either write down names of characters that you love and their characteristics or write down types of characters that you are interested in writing about so when you are building characters to inhabit this novel that you're going to write you can look back at this master list and say oh I really want to explore what it would be like for two siblings to be separated or I really want to explore what it would be like for a younger sister to always be overshadowed by her older brother and by having these lists it really helps you build a novel that would be perfect for you and that is going to help you write 50,000 words in November because again if you are writing a novel that you're not that into or that interested in it's gonna be way more difficult to hit 50k than it would be if you were writing something that had all of these characteristics of a story that you really love all right so if you have the workbook your five boxes will be filled but I'm actually going to give you a few more categories to fill out so you can either grab a separate sheet of paper or maybe just write small in the margins or next to the boxes on the second level because now we are going to write down some relationships that you would be interested in writing about siblings who would be an interesting one for me at least that's what I like writing about I would also write down positive parent and child relationships so by writing these down you can take the characters right that you just wrote down for your previous category and start linking them together through these relationships that you want to explore all right there's one more to go so the next category that I would like you to fill out is experiences and skills and this is going to be a personal thing because if you have a skill then you're going to be able to write about it much more realistically so for example one of the skills that I would write down might be archery because I have my own bow and I love to go out shooting and I know more about it because I've actually done it I've you know taken lessons I've gone to shooting ranges I've watched a lot of videos so that would be one skill for me another one of my skills would be horsemanship I started working you know with horses when I was around seven years old and while I was in college I actually lived on a farm and I managed a barn and I was a horseback riding instructor so horsemanship is something that I can write about very realistically because I know it so well maybe for you you've been a chef before or you know what it's like to be a waitress like I've never been a waitress before so I cannot realistically write about the experiences that a waitress would have so make a list of these and skills that you have because when you return to this list you can say RA these are all the things that I know all too well and I can write about them very realistically and I would like to put that in my book okay my friends so you should have a master list now you should have a list of stories moods genres settings characters what else your experiences / skills and then relationships so there should be seven categories that are all filled out now I want you to read back over these kind of take a step back if you need to and this master list is going to help you come up with story ideas so I'm gonna pick mine up I have mine right here and looking at mine let's see stories that I like Raven boys Scorpio races Twilight Troy brave and The Hunger Games so a lot of those have magic a lot of those have adventure so maybe I want to write an adventure story based in a fantasy esque world maybe there are dragons maybe there's magic and witches and witchcraft let's see moods magical mysterious dark whimsical all that would fit really well with an adventure novel with magic and like dragons tossed in their settings let's see foggy woods small village out in nature so maybe I'm writing about a very small mountain town in kind of a historical esque world where they raise dragons and magic is real characters warriors I like strength outcasts rebels a monarchy maybe there's a ruling monarchy that wants to steal the Dragons that this small village is raising and training in this magical world and the Warriors have to prevent the monarchy from coming in and stealing their dragons so see how I'm just going through each category and I'm saying oh maybe I could take this setting and then I can take this character and this genre and I can start forming all of these together all of these separate ideas I can start formulating into one novel idea so now that you have all of these written down it's time to get all of your ideas in one place and start brainstorming novel idea so for those of you that have the workbook go ahead and turn the page we want to be on page four for those of you that do not have the workbook again it's fine just pull out an extra sheet of paper or turn the page in your journal because it's time to start brainstorming novel ideas so continue to flip back and forth between the categories and the kind of master list that you just made and then you're brainstorming novel ideas page because you're going to be using both of these together every time you pull a few things from the list together write that down as a potential novel idea again I really quickly just came up with historical world dragons and a small village in the woods I would write those things down and that could be a potential novel idea and then I would just have to build on that build on it think of a problem create the premise and then I would have my novel idea and I could continue to plot and plan it out all right my friends so I really hope that this video helped you out I hope that you have that big master list next to you now and you can start kind of puzzle piece in your novel ideas together and remember if you have not already picked up your prep Tober workbook all it takes is a donation of any size whatever you are comfortable with donating and you will get your 30 page October 2017 prepped / workbook and it is going to help you plan and plot a novel to write in November 2017 alright everybody thank you so much for joining me today again I really hope that this video and this master list helps you at least start coming up with some novel ideas if not don't worry about it continue looking at this list we still have time to prepare for NaNoWriMo and remember if you have any questions for me please drop them in the comments below send me an email whatever you are most comfortable with alright everybody thank you so much for joining me today remember to leave any requests for NaNoWriMo prep videos in the comments below and I will see you in my next video bye


  1. THIS IS GREAT! I have been watching videos on outlining, butΒ this is what I have been needing to watch. I have a general idea for a graphic novel and this is helping my sluggish creative mind to start working again to fill in the gaps. Thank you so much.

  2. Hi Natalia! This is my first year doing NaNoWriMo and I'm really eager to start planning. I noticed the link to your workbook seems to be broken, can you please post another link? I'd really like to use these resources πŸ™‚

  3. Im going to end up commenting on all your videos but let me tell you, I've been looking for a good idea for a year now and haven't gotten anything. Half way through your video I figured out my idea. Thank You! I think you're magic. You're like a Writing Goddess 😍😊

  4. Hey, you said archery is one of your skills. In the second book of the series I'm writing, a character becomes a werewolf hunter and his weapon of choice is a bow and arrow. Can I message you if I ever need any tips?

  5. Thank you, thank you , thank you for this video. I'm not taking part in Nanowrimo (and never have) but I found this video to be particularly helpful. Love the in-depth examples you give on generating ideas for stories. I really think your structured approach will help me big time. Love your channel. No frills just detailed and helpful thoughts/advice. Sending you good vibes for your latest project.

  6. Watching this was awesome! I just sent for mine because….I needs it!lol I love how you were able to come up with an idea just that fast. I can't wait to start mine! πŸ˜€

  7. My nieces were watching this video with me. They were gushing about how pretty you are.
    Also, love all your videos. Thanks you!

  8. Hi Natalia! I love your workbook and this video that goes with it. Would you be able to do a video on developing a plot? I find that I have lots of random ideas and don’t know how to string them into a coherent plot!

  9. This was so helpful in getting me started with your workbook! Will you be making more of these and going through the book with us? (please?) πŸ˜„

  10. Thanks so much for this. Pumped for Nanowrimo but having a hard time committing to an idea. This really helped with the brainstorming and narrowing down what I will be able to stick with for the month!

  11. Hiya! I just wanted to say that I am in love with the writer community on YouTube. I recently started an AuthorTube channel and would love to do a collab with you on any writer or bookish topic if you would be interested! Let me know. Thanks! πŸ™‚

  12. I agree 100 percent with fairytale. Its like its own genre and everytime something feels like a fairytale, its much cooler to me. especially dark fairytales (del toros pans labyrinth)

  13. Thanks so much for making this video! Page 3 of your workbook makes so much more sense now!
    Can you make story structure and plotting this easy too?

  14. Woohoo! That was great Natalia, loved having your guide through the workbook. Will you be making a series of these videos this month?? 😁😁

  15. Good tips Natalia, I don't struggle with story ideas…I have an overactive imagination haha and it never stops! BTW you have lovely handwriting πŸ™‚

  16. I am doing my first Nano and this workbook has been a huge help for me as I work thru getting my story and characters ready to write in November.

  17. I got a story idea from a dream too! I wrote down some other ideas for the story, but I am SO stuck. This will be my first sci-fi/fantasy type of novel AND my first NaNoWriMo. I want to do this and I'm hopeful I can finish!

  18. I just printed my preptober book and haven't gotten to look through it yet, but this was a great sneak peek at what's to be expected! So excited to go through it πŸ™‚

  19. I love your approach toward creation, it's very progressive and I think it can really help with writer's block especially. Also, my workbook is going on pretty well πŸ™‚

  20. Using my computer to write everything down since I don't have a printer so I didn't get the workbook. I already have my NaNo story, characters, and my book playlist started. All that I have left to do is outline. This will be really useful for future stories though. πŸ™‚

  21. I just finished the first draft of a novel I've been working on for the past 2 months. I was thinking of writing the 2nd draft in November.
    There are definitely a lot of things I want to change about it. I just find it difficult to move from the first to the second draft. Do you think you have any tips you (Natalia) or anyone else have any tips you can share? πŸ™‚
    I guess it's different for every project, but do people recommend a completely new document, or just adding and shuffling around what's already there. Or maybe someone has any other options. Any insights are highly appreciated :))

    Regardless of what I end up doing, I'm super excited for NaNoWriMo 2017! It's my 3rd year participating (in the November-edition. I've done Camp a couple of times too…)

    Good luck to everyone, and this video will definitely help me some other time. (Sometimes I realise I've written a very annoying character that I just don't care about anymore, but I think these tips will steer me away from that :))

    I'll stop my wordy rambling now. Good luck to everyone!

  22. Writing is way easier when you plan for world. For me I have 8 books planned out for my universe. Plan plan plan…

  23. Less than a month till Nanowrimo!! Music to my ears πŸ™‚ This year the story literally just did hit me. I'm very lucky!

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