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#NaNoWriMo Story Plan for my FBI/BDSM/Druglord/Suspense Novel #NaNoPlan

[Update June 2014: the book, Bound for Trouble, has been published by Dreamspinner Press. During rewrites and editing, I changed several key elements in the story, specifically the character and motivation of the FBI agent to make him more likeable. The changes worked very well and I got a lot of email from readers asking for a sequel because they liked both characters so much. In fact, I got more emails for this book than I have for all of my other novels put together!]

It’s been a rough busy start this month while I was finishing up edits for upcoming releases, but I have finished my Story Planning Worksheet for my own NaNo novel. According to the poll, a lot of people were interested to see how I fill in the sheet to build characters and how that leads to a layered plot, all without actually plotting or outlining.

I’m sharing my own original Story Planning Worksheet from my book How to Be a NaNoWriMo Winner. It’s a bit of a mess, so excuse typos, punctuation, formatting, abbreviations, etc. I’m concentrating on who the characters are, what they need/want, their strengths and weaknesses, and how these will interact between characters–or within a character–to drive the story along. I also haven’t put in everything, just to keep some parts of the story a mystery (and for copyright protection). But there is enough here to see how the process works and what you can get out of it.

I don’t have much plot in mind yet. I have some key scenes, but not much more. The details and the “what happens next” will flow as I start writing and these characters begin to come to life. I have no clue what they look like yet and that will happen later too. For me, the pysical descriptions don’t much matter in who they are, though it will affect how others view them. I do take that into account, but I certainly don’t start with hair or eye color.

There are plenty of things I haven’t decided or figured out yet. It will happen as I go along, though I generally like to have fewer unanswered questions at this point.

Here’s how I get going on a novel:

FBI/BDSM/Suspense Novel

Story Planning Worksheet

All content here Copyright 2013 EM Lynley Do not distribute or share

(Please respect my work and ideas as I write this novel. I’m sharing this to help others, so please remember this isn’t a story for you take and use as your own. Thank you.)

Step 1: Premise


A nearly washed out FBI agent changes his mind about his job after he starts to fall for a guy he forced into being a confidential informant.


Step 2: Test your premise

Five possible storylines related to the draft premise.

1. FBI agent’s boss is connected to the drug king pin

2. Someone else is trying to get him kicked out or to get his job

3. Ryan falls too deeply under the Dom’s spell

4. They try to escape from the situation and— what happens?

5. Deke has a sick relative to deal with and he can’t lose his job? His identity is tied up in the job.


Step 3: Character Needs and Wants


Main character 1 FBI Agent: Deke

Desire: He needs to take down the drug lord or lose his job.

Need: He needs to succeed to get the bad guys (why—what drives this need). He also needs to stop defining himself by the job and its goals so he can let someone else in his life.

Strength: smart, logical, dedicated,_

Weakness: he’s stopped trusting his own instincts, defines himself by the job, sees people as a means to an end

Psychological: his self-doubt is sabotaging his decisions in every aspect of his life, professional and personal. He won’t get close to anyone.

Moral: He uses people to get to the end, particularly the CI (Ryan), who he manipulates with lies.

Character arc:

Beginning: He’s concerned with outcomes not means, and he is a user without much conscience as long as the goal is noble. Puts his goals (Or perceived goals) ahead of others.

Ending: He sees the personal side of things and realizes that he is worth caring about when he puts someone else ahead of himself.



Main character 2 CI: Ryan

Desire: He wants to help Deke get the drug lord so he can clear his name for good.

Need: _to stop giving too much of himself to others and stop being so trusting. (This will cross with Deke’s user instinct. Needs more self-respect.

Strength: honest and kind, just had to resort to some bad things to get out of a bad place earlier in life.

Strength: forgiveness and mercy

Weakness: self-doubt and lack of self-respect

Psychological lets others take advantage of him to avoid confrontation

Moral: [doesn’t trust himself or value himself and he mistakes attention for affection. He can’t understand when someone is using him.

Character arc:

Beginning: Little self-worth and too pliant

Ending: have self-worth that makes him accept real affection from another person.


Step 4: Character Arcs

For your main character(s)

Main Character’s arc: becomes a more moral person with integrity and trust his own decisions about right and wrong

Beginning Weakness/Need: self-doubt, uses people but needs to be trusted and to prove himself with his career success.

Ending Weakness/Need: he still needs to get the bad guy, but he find other less harmful ways.

Second Main Character/Love Interest’s arc: self-respect, independence, understand and accepting real affection.

Beginning Weakness/Need: needs to please others, little sense of self-worth.

Ending Weakness/Need: [ needs work here]


Step 5: Villain/Main Opponent: Drug Lord


Desire: Money from selling drugs which he funnels to terrorist orgs. Also a very dominant Dom who wants someone to push around who isn’t part of his work.

Need: To be trusted by the people he is around. He needs their respect but wants it to be more than just out of fear for him. [he may not be as bad as he is on the surface. is he just putting on a show and in the end might not go after the guys?]

What is his rationale to justify his attempts to stop the hero?

Money. He doesn’t have the same code of ethics. He doesn’t support the terrorists but they help fund his operation and provide protection. It’s symbiotic. He also gets a similar deal with the FBI big shot. He trades information about other operations to keep his own safer. (how will this insider information affect what/when he knows what is going on with the MCs? Perhaps Deke’s boss doesn’t tell her boss all the details b/c she knows it’s not kosher, so this way the big boss doesn’t have all the details to share with the drug guy.)

Strength: cunning

Strength: knows how to manipulate people and make deals—good at reading people and knowing what they want and need.

Weakness: fond of pleasure and luxury/hedonistic . Jealous over his own property—including people.

Weakness: Likes guys with the physical type of CI and piercings. Deke makes CI get pierced.

Psychological: lets himself get obsessed with appearances. He wants to be seen as a certain type of person and lets it cloud his judgment. Esp when it comes to his weakness for certain boys. _

Moral: He uses people for sex and doesn’t treat them well. He can always find another so he doesn’t care. He can’t make connections with others (a mirror of Deke’s problems of using people)

Character arc: He is actually going to find himself more attracted to Ryan and wants to keep him around, so when he finds out he’s gone, it’s going to be worse.


How does he cause conflict with MC1?

  • (job) Deke has to stop drug guy or lose his job. As long as drug guy is in business, Deke’s job is at risk.
  • (job) He is funneling funds to arms dealers, which is a national security issue and will keep the FBI on him as well as other branches of intelligence and national security
  • (job and personal) He has more and more control over Ryan, which forces Deke to make a choice: the mission or Ryan’s safety
  • (personal) As Ryan gets deeper into drug guy’s world, closer to the sources Deke wants, Deke finds himself drawn to Ryan, so drug guy is his opponent at a personal level too.


What goal(s) do they both pursue? Which of the MC’s goal(s) must the villain stop in order to achieve his own goals?

1. They both want Ryan as the story nears the climax/confrontation

2. Drug guy has to threaten Ryan to get Deke to back off (I will hurt him unless you let me go….)

3. Conflict between Deke and his boss will be heightened due to boss’s connection with drug guy

How does he exploit MC1’s weakness?

He uses Ryan as a pawn, pushing Deke to his limits in terms of mission vs. the safety of CI Ryan. He suspects Deke will actually choose Ryan, giving drug guy a way out because he is more ruthless.

He uses Deke’s own self-doubts as more leverage, pushing him to make faster decisions, knowing he’s either going to make a mistake or at least be off balance. (his FBI connection will give him information about Deke’s botched raid that killed the kid, and Deke’s PTSD and other problems as a result.


Step 6: Develop the Character Web

Main Character’s Allies

1. His boss (one level up)—mixed role. Moves between opponent and false opponent/unexpected ally, especially as the bigger boss’s treachery unravels.

2. Boss (two levels up )

3. Ryan

4. Another agent

5. Needs a friend, confidante

6. Ex-lover? He needs a personal connection who knows him and who will help him realize how he feels about Ryan. Someone who makes an unselfish decision to help Deke get together with Ryan. This person will remind Deke of who he used to be and the values he used to hold, and make him turn away from the mission-first drive that has been consuming him until that point.


1. Drug guy

2. (Second boss—false ally)

3. Other drug guys

4. Arms dealer


False Allies

1. Second boss who is feeding drug guy information on both operations and on Deke.




False Opponents

1. Ex-lover

2. First boss




Main Character #2


He has cut himself off from friendships for fear of letting anyone know him too well. He’s still worried about the death five years earlier and thinks by staying alone he will avoid a connection who will expect him to be more honest than he feels safe to be. He doesn’t have many friends, which is why he is easily manipulated by both Deke and DG.

1. A friend (who? and what is his role?)

2. Eventually Deke

3.Stripper buddy (who turns against him eventually?)



1. Deke, at least at first. Ryan is forced into action, but begins to care about the mission, if not about Deke. [need to work more on this progression[

2. Drug guy—again this relationship is fluid. Ryan rebels at first, then finds himself drawn to DG, then under his control in a way he cannot fight on his own. DG is never exactly an ally, but they are connected by needs, not by desires. They have conflicting desires.

3. FBI big boss

False Allies

1. Another stripper?




False Opponents

1. Deke

2. Deke’s boss

Step 7: Reaching for the Desire


1. Deke pushes Ryan to be CI to get intel on DG. Forces him to get job in gay strip club where DG hangs out, knowing DG likes his type.

2. Deke uses the information including video/audio to map DG’s network, including sources, finance, distribution networks.

3. Deke also expects Ryan to travel with DG when he goes to meet arms dealer.

4. Deke pushes Ryan closer to DG so that he will take Ryan along on trips.

5. Deke sets up a big operation to take both men down, but this is compromised, forcing Deke to decide between carrying it out or making sure Ryan is safe. [Big boss leaked the plans to DG, leads to big confrontation where Ryan is the pawn in the middle]

How do his opponents affect these plans?

1. Ryan gets sucked in deeper

2. Bad boss’s information lets DG know in advance so he can avoid the big takedown.


How do his allies help him?

1. Ryan eventually lets himself get brought deeper into DG’s world a) to help Ryan and b) he is too caught up as a sub and begins to need DG’s domination. Ryan can’t get out of the situation even if he wanted to, but he doesn’t want to.

2. First boss tries to get him taken off the case, knowing something isn’t right. Deke thinks she’s forcing him out, and at first she is, but eventually it’s to protect him.

3. Other agents on the project





How does an ally betray him?

1. Second boss has been sharing info with DG. He gives DG info to avoid Deke’s sting..

2. Second boss’s actions put Ryan more in harm’s way, also using Deke’s weaknesses against him.


The Relationship/Romance/Sexual Elements

[not included]

Step 8: Battle/Climax

Bad boss gives DG enough information to avoid the big raid by letting on that Ryan is working for Deke/FBI. DG holds Ryan hostage, thinking he can manipulate Deke. Deke has to decide whether to risk Ryan’s life and continue the raid, or save him by backing down.

the mission vs. Ryan.

Potentially many lives vs one certain casualty.



Step 9: Self-Revelation


Deke realizes that he has put Ryan into the worst situation he can be in, and there was never hope for it to succeed because Big Boss has guaranteed his failure before the mission ever began. Given these odds, circumstances and his growing affection for Ryan, Deke chooses him over the mission—at least at that point.


Double reversal?

Does DG find himself also falling for Ryan and in the end give up more easily? [need to think through these possibilities]


Step 10: The Ending

How has the main character (couple for a romance) overcome their weaknesses, resolved the conflict(s), and used these changes to defeat the opponent(s)?

Deke saves Ryan, even though he fails on his professional objective. He regains his self-respect after making the right decision.

Ryan is satisfied that the transformation is real and permanent and he can begin to trust Deke. This will allow them to start a real relationship, based on mutual respect and not out of what either can get out of the other.

Ryan and Deke’s boss agree to testify about Big Boss and DG’s connections, knowing this will not only get rid of BB, but will save Deke’s job after he fucked up another huge takedown operation.

Deke may decide to leave the FBI, disillusioned after the events and after he succumbed to pressure to put missions above lives.

nano_cover_smaller Get your own Story Planning Worksheet or the full How to Be NaNoWriMo Winner book from Amazon.



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  1. FREE with #kindleunlimited, the ultimate #NaNoWriMo planning tool | EM Lynley's Literary Love Shack - […] [view the raw worksheets for my 2013 NaNo novel, Bound for Trouble, before I started writing it. […]

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