Twenty-two days and counting until NaNoWriMo begins. Are you anywhere near ready?
The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days. The problem is participants try to write 50,000 perfect words.
Not going to happen.
You have all the time in the world AFTER November 30th to pull out the dictionary and the thesaurus, edit, and clean up your story. That’s the “work” part of creating your book. NaNoWriMo is about the fun part – writing it!
But regardless of whether you’re a plotter – with every detail meticulously calculated; or a pantser – you have a guy, a girl, and a dream; you need to have plan…a written plan. As a diehard pantser, I learned in 2014 that even if you write fairly well by the seat-of-your-pants, you STILL need to prep. You can have the story line totally completed in your head, and still fall short. Getting hung up on ONE plot point can slow you down, or…lead you to quit.
Planning ahead for NaNoWriMo last year not only helped me to win the thirty-day challenge, but also to write freely, no writer’s block anywhere in sight. My stories are character-driven, so after I had a talk with the voices in my head and completed an outline and scene list, on November 1st, I just let them go!
Prepping can look like different things to different writers. Some have multi-colored spreadsheets, using a special color for each character, along with color coordinated Post-it Notes and Sharpies.
I’m not on that team.
However, as a Scrivener user, I do color code my scenes simply because, like many writers, I do not write chronologically. Color coding helps ME to maintain order in my writing. In theory, anyway.
But preparing to write your story can be as basic as having;
- A logline – a single sentence (sometimes two) that answers the basic question “what is your story about?”,
- A Tagline – a catchphrase that sums up the theme of your story, and makes it memorable. To boldly go where no man has gone before is permanently etched in all of our minds, thanks to Star Trek.,
- An outline or chapter outline – basic plot points of your story. These are the things that MUST happen in order for your story to progress and reach its resolution.
Your outline can be as detailed as you like, but trust me – the more details you include, the easier your writing will flow. It will not be the ‘big’ things that stump you because you’ve already thought about those and done your research. But what about the ‘little things? Did you describe lead characters? Are they employed? What is their occupation? If you mentioned their occupation, is the job description correct? Are there gaps in your timeline? Do all your characters have a name? Is your story setting real or fictitious? Unless you’re writing paranormal or fantasy where you get to do the world building, not knowing the details beforehand can…and will induce mini anxiety attacks that will morph into full-blown hysteria.
You don’t need the stress. NaNoWriMo is supposed to be fun, so get your details down on paper…now.
You have twenty-two days.