Preparation is Key to Success
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) begins on November 1, 2012. For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo is an exercise in group madness, wherein people all over the world attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
It is possible. I’ve done it and the proof is here. The first draft of my novel, “Fake,” was written and completed during NaNoWriMo.
Writing is a solitary business, which makes November and NaNoWriMo an awesome occasion for writers. After signing up on the official website, you can join your local region. On your local region’s forum, you can find a calendar of events that includes write-ins throughout the month. During these write-ins, participants meet at local cafes, restaurants or even private residences, and settle down to work on their novels together. It’s an opportunity to meet other local writers, exchange ideas, and participate in fun activities.
If you would like to participate or just want to check it out, this is the official website.
50,000 is a lot to write in 30 days. It’s not a finished novel, but it is a reasonable size for a first draft. I was able to accomplish this by preparing in advance. The official rules for NaNoWriMo state that you must not begin your novel before November 1. However, you are free to do as much research and preparation as possible prior to that date.
Where to begin? I’ve listed some free resources below that I’ve found helpful.
NaNoWriMo’s Young Novelist Workbook
Although the intended audience is high school students, this 91-page workbook is helpful for adults writers, too. Inside, you’ll find helpful worksheets as well as advice on character development, conflict, setting, plotting, etc. I highly recommend this for beginning novelists.
How to Write a Novel: The Snowflake Method
This method was developed by Randy Ingermanson, author of “Writing Fiction for Dummies.” His 10-point process will take you from a one-sentence summary to beginning your first draft. For NaNoWriMo purposes, I used the method up to Step 5. However, you may want to use the whole method.
Notecarding: Plotting Under Pressure
Author and writing coach Holly Lisle developed this method of using note cards to plot out a novel. I’ve found this to be a very useful method for the getting the story out of my head. One thing I highly recommend is, after finishing the note cards, don’t hesitate to shuffle them like a deck of cards. This can help you let go of your story as something written in stone and allow serendipity enter into how the characters and scenes interact.
25 Ways to Plot, Plan and Prep Your Story
Novelist Chuck Wendig offers 25 different methods on his blog. One or more may suit you.
If you decide to participate, good luck! You can do it.