Well, it’s that time of the year again. The temperature is starting to drop, the leaves are starting to fall, and writers from all walks of life will soon begin the infamous writing marathon known as NaNoWriMo.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the event, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. Every November, writers from all over take the challenge to write 50,000 words in just 30 days. It’s a literary challenge like none other and last year, over 700,000 writers entered the contest.
Although I have always been passionate about writing, I have never participated in NaNoWriMo. I decided that this year would be my first year and soon began to do a little research on how to prepare for it. There are so many websites, blogs, podcasts, and books that claim to help any person write a book in 30 days. I’m not an expert, but I think that you only need to know two things in order to successfully prepare for NaNoWriMo.
First, you must know what you want to write about. All novels begin with a simple idea, so that is paramount in preparing. Once you have an idea and know what genre you plan to write, it’s time to expand on that idea. Some people prefer to outline the entire novel, scene by scene. Other people prefer to just get a rough idea of the plot. I don’t really think there is a right or wrong way to expand on your ideas, as long as you expand. If you outline your entire novel, that’s great. Outlining your novel is like having a complete road map that you can always deviate from later. If you don’t want to outline the entire novel, I would suggest writing ideas of things that could happen in the course of your story. If you get stuck with writer’s block in the middle of November, you can refer back to your earlier notes and get some new inspiration for your story.
Second, you must know your characters. I think that characters drive your story just as much as your plot does. Nobody wants to read about a flat, lifeless character so it’s incredibly important that you make your character a person. I suggest writing an entire back story for all of your main characters. Where do each of the characters come from? What kind of ambitions do these different characters have? What are their weaknesses? The answers to these questions will deeply affect the actions of your characters in the story. Also, if you know your characters from the start, there shouldn’t be any inconsistencies in the development of your characters as the story progresses.
Although November is a month away, I think that the best time to prepare for NaNoWriMo is now. Not only will you have plenty of time to plot out and develop your story, but different forums and author talks have just opened up on the NaNoWriMo website in preparation for the event. If you are interested in entering, you can visit the NaNoWriMo website here. NaNoWriMo also has a blog that may help you get an idea for your novel.
I can’t wait to share my NaNoWriMo experiences with all of you. If you plan on entering or if you’ve entered before, please let me know!
Until next week,