15 Thoughts on NaNoWriMo

Posted: September 14, 2016 in On Writing
Tags: , , , , , ,
  1. Shut up it’s not too early to talk about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Yes, officially it starts in November, but I guarantee you the best way to successfully complete the requisite 50,000 words in the 30 days given is to start thinking about your story now.
  2. Start thinking about characters. That means description, backstory, motivation. What’re their buttons? What sets them apart? This is more than just the protagonist. Think about your antagonist. Think about satellite characters. What’s motivating them? What’s making them do what they do?
  3. What’s the setting? Rural Alabama is different from Elfy Forestland is different from Noir Cyberpunk where it rains all the time. How does the setting help to frame the story?
  4. Related to the above: do your worldbuilding now. November is for writing the story, not the setting. I guarantee if you let yourself get bogged down in the worldbuilding, if you need to spend time figuring your shit out in November, you aren’t going to get far with the actual writing.
  5. What are the stakes of the story? What happens if your protagonist falls flat on their face? Is it the end of the world? The end of a relationship? End of employment? What if they succeed? The status quo should change by the end of the story.
  6. Do not let your character be a leaf on the wind. They need to be a jet plane. In other words- give the character(s) agency. Have them make decisions. Have them make choices. These can even be bad choices, but make them act in the world you create.
  7. Work out now how you are going to tell the story. First person present? Third person limited past? Now’s the time to make those decisions, not at 12:01 am in November 1.
  8. Think about your beats. Road map out your story. NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words. That’s 10k words an act for five acts. You know who worked the five act model? Shakespeare. Be like Shakespeare.
  9. Allow yourself to suck. NaNoWriMo is designed to get writers to get words on page. They don’t have to be the perfect words. That’s what editing is for.
  10. Don’t give a fuck about genre. You want to write steampunk airship pirates battling Martians? Shapeshifter mutant erotica? Weird West meets Weird Science? You do you.
  11. Look at your schedule. 30 days for 50k words is 1,666.67 words per day. November contains things like Thanksgiving. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Having to go to work. Plan out what days might end up being blacked out for writing. Plan accordingly.
  12. There are certain things that drive word count. Action. Dialogue (especially asking questions). Do those things.
  13. Certain parts are going to bog you down. Writing long descriptions. Writing exposition.
  14. Getting stuck on a scene? Put in a place holder. Something like [Exposition on the nature the lamia/sphinx war goes here]. Move on to the next scene. Put that bracket in red, set it off from the rest of the scene. Come back to it later when you are ready to tackle it.
  15. Find your writing groove now. Music or no music? What kind of music? Caffeine? Alcohol? Other? If booze makes you sleepy, you might want to scale back when writing. You won’t get nearly as much done as you might think. Haven’t written anything in a while? Maybe write a couple of short pieces before hand. Take those characters out for a test drive. Writing is a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

Further reading:

How to Write a Novel in 3 Days (The Michael Moorcock Way)

The official NaNoWriMo website.

Yes, I am considering participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I did it years ago. 2001 I think? And I finished. And if I do participate I’ll be posting the word slurry here, one day at a time.

  1. sourgirlohio says:

    Good luck! I’ve attempted twice, finished only once.

  2. Madison Ward says:

    Good Luck to you!
    I’ve only been writing a month so I must be crazy but I’ve signed up!
    I’ve followed you so I can track your progress!
    Ive just wrote a post about it too!

  3. In an odd way, this is motivating.

  4. ruhenhoque says:

    A good list, never to early to start planning for a NaNo. After all 50,000 words in one is a lot, it is good to be prepared for it.

    This will be my third NaNo, hopefully I will complete it for a third time. I have almost all my story plotted out, usually I don’t go to this depth but this year I wanted to try it.

    Good luck to all that are attempting NaNo this year. 🙂

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