Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Prepping for NaNoWriMo by Patty Smith Hall

It’s the middle of October, and everyone I know is gearing up for NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month next month. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization that challenges writers to write 50K new words of a novel in thirty days. Each year on November 1st, hundreds of thousands of people from every walk of life begin to write. In case you’re wondering, that's 1667 new words every day (including weekends and Thanksgiving) so you’ve got to have a plan if you hope to achieve your goal.

1) Develop Your Story Idea.
Most writers don’t have a problem coming up with a story idea. The problem begins when you start to work out plot points and the black moment. With such a tight schedule, you need to work through all the kinks in your plot before you start writing. Pantsers, you’re going to hate me, but this is one time a chapter by chapter outline is a must. Writing 1667+ words a day is hard enough without having to think through the next scene.

Write your scenes out—I use index cards, either the physical ones or the ones on Scrivener. And remember—you can always tweak your chapters as you go along. The goal here is to simply write. 

2) Get to Know Your Characters
You can’t have a story without well-defined characters, so this is a good time to get to know them before you write their story. I’m a huge fan of character charts because you have a working knowledge of your characters by the time you finish all the questions. One I’ve recently been using is the Character Development Journal.

This is also a good time to find out what your characters’ motivation and conflict are. Whatever you learn about your characters, knowing their motivation and conflict are the most important. They will drive your characters throughout the story. 

3) Pick Out a Writing Element You’d Like to Work On.
Have your critique partners commented on your passive writing? Do you have problems with deep POV? NaNoWriMo is the perfect time to work on those elements of your writing you haven’t quite mastered yet. This is a rough draft that no one is ever going to see except you.
Why not try something new? You’ll come out of November a better writer. 

4) Decide on Your Best Writing Time, then Alert Your Family.
This is probably the most difficult thing to do. Life is busy, especially when you have kids or aging parents. But if you’re serious about writing 50K words in November, you’ve got to find a good time to write and guard it with your life! We have a saying at my house—If blood or the police aren’t involved, don’t bother me during my writing time! 

5) Form a NaNoWriMo Group with Your Writing Friends.
If you’re participating in this, you’ve probably got some friends who are doing it too. Think about forming a group on the NaNoWriMo page. It’s a great way to encourage each other throughout the month. It’s also a wonderful sounding board/brainstorming team if you get hung up on a plot point or something.

Question: Are you planning to do NaNoWriMo next month? What book will you work on?

Tips for achieving your NaNoWriMo goal via @pattywrites #SeriouslyWrite


Patty Smith Hall lives in North Georgia with her husband of 36+ years, Danny. Her passion is to write tender romances based in little-known historical moments. The winner of the 2008 ACFW Genesis award in historical romance, she is published with Love Inspired Historical, Barbour and Winged Publishing, and is a contributor to the Seriously Writing blog as well as Journey magazine. Patty is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.