November is on its way and that means NaNoWriMo is nearing. For those of you who don’t know what this means, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a 50.000-word novel in 30 days! We have both participated and failed epically last year. Therefore we are in no way entitled to give anyone writing advice. But we like to live on the edge (sarcasm intended) and will give you our tips for preparing for NaNoWriMo.
First things first, figure out if you’re a planner or a pantser. If you are a panster then you might as well skip this guide ’cause you will not want to prepare at all. You will want to go into NaNoWriMo with not a lot more than a vague idea of what you are going to be writing. But if you’re a planner than this blogpost will hopefully be helpful for you.
STEP 1: OUTLINING
The first thing I would start with, as a planner, is outlining your story. I (Lotte) personally use an Eight Point Arc to structure my outline (if you want to check out the exact resource I use, click here). The good thing about outlining your story is the fact that you always know what you’re going to write. You will already have your entire plot thought out and know where your story is going. So if you happen to get a writer’s block in the middle of November you can start writing a different, more interesting, part of your story because you will know what you want to happen.
The down-side to planning out your entire outline is that you might get stuck in that outline, and not be open to changing the direction of your plot in order to, perhaps, better your story.
STEP 2: CHARACTERS
The next step you might want to take, when preparing for NaNoWriMo, is creating your characters (our favourite part). Now, when you have your outline, you will most likely already have an idea of your characters. But chances are that you will not have them completely fleshed-out yet. And in order to make your characters feel realistic and make them appeal to readers, you need to make sure that they have a personality. In order to achieve this, you might want to look up some character sheets online. They can help you figure out what kind of person your character is when you are stuck.
If you are going to invest time in any of these steps, I would recommend picking this one. Characters can make or break a story.
STEP 3: SETTING
The setting of a story is also very important. It has to make sense in your story, if your writing a high fantasy novel you probably don’t want to use our world as a setting. It has to suit the plot and characters. If you are writing a high fantasy, dystopian or sci-fi novel you might want to look up some recourses on world building. If you are writing a contemporary novel you don’t have to worry about creating an entire new world, but you do still need to think about the setting. In what country does the story take place? Do you want it to take place in a city or town? Do you want to use an excisting place or do you want to create a fictional place? There are a lot of things to consider that will influence your story.
STEP 4: SURVIVAL KIT
All you really need besides you ideas are a notebook and a pen, but if you want to make it a bit more easier for yourself then here are a few things we would recommend you use during NaNoWriMo:
- A laptop with writing software. Writing on a laptop is usually much quicker than writing everything by hand. We both like to use Scrivener to write with (you can get a 30-day free trail for NaNoWriMo) but you can also use other programs, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
- An external harddrive. Or anything else on which you can back-up your story. The last thing you want is to write thousands of words for your project and lose it because you didn’t back it up.
- Snacks. You will be writing a lot in November and in order to reach your daily wordcount you have to spend a lot of time behind you laptop. Make sure you don’t starve yourself because you forgot to eat. Have snacks ready!
- Drinks. Same goes for drinks. You have to stay hydrated so keep a bottle of water or a mug of tea/coffee at hand at all times.
- A notebook. Eventhough you will probably be writing you story on your laptop, you still want to have a physical notebook handy at all times just in case you have a great epiphany on your way to school or work, or when your in class or wherever.
- A book. When you have sucked yourself dry of ideas you might want to recharge your creative juices by reading someone else’s finished novel.
- A friend. If you have a friend who loves writing then definitely buddy up with them and write together. You can discuss your stories and motivate each other. If you do not have a friend like this in real life, you can always find writing buddies on the NaNoWriMo website.
STEP 5: START WRITING
Now that you have planned your outline, fleshed out your characters, determined your setting and got your survival kit together, you are ready for NaNoWriMo. All you need to do now is wait for November 1st to roll around to start writing your novel!
Please let us know if you are participating in NaNoWriMo this year, we woukd love to hear about your story.
Lots of Love,
Doreth & Lotte
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