Fiction Friday: Six Weeks to #NaNoWriMo – Here’s 5 Things You Can do Now to Prepare #writetips

It’s the middle of September, and NaNoWriMo begins in exactly six weeks. It may be your first time doing it, or you could be a repeat NaNoWrimer determined to finish this time, or you could have several under your belt and are just looking for some new tips.

I’ve completed a few NaNoWriMos, (and JuNoWriMos), and I’ve also not finished a few. The thing that stopped me was hitting a wall of not knowing what to do next. This is where being prepared can help.

Some people swear by planning. They outline everything they want to see in the story, chapter-by-chapter, scene by scene. I envy people who are that organized. Really I do. Bless their little OCD, listmaking hearts (kidding!). Of course, plotting is the better way. It’s like those uber-organized, super moms who have perfectly tidy homes and lunches planned for their kids three weeks in advance. They take Pilates class every morning before their crossfit workouts, have perfect abs, a but you could bounce quarters off of.

I wish I had your mad skills. All of them.

But some of us aren’t so amazing. For those of us who still live in the trenches of writing, pantsing our way through our novels. We may have scraps of a plan, but we actually enjoy the frenzy of creating on the fly. We like what our imagination comes up with when the pressure’s on. Why else would we do something like NaNoWrimo anyway?

But even if you are a pantser and have no idea what you want to write about, September is the month to do some light prep work to avoid the “What the hell am I doing?” wall that invariably hits when you’ve lost the thread of your story.

Here are five things you can start thinking about now to prepare yourself:

1. Audience/Genre, or who’s going to read it:

I believe it helps to know what kind of story you’re going to write. Will it be children’s lit? Young Adult? Adult? Will it be contemporary? romance? science fiction? Knowing this will help you structure your story.

2. Location, or where the story will take place:

Figure out where your story will take place and start researching location. If it’s a made up town, jot down some traits. Pull together a Pinterest board of locations you enjoy, buildings, beaches, streets, so you can describe them at a moment’s notice. If you’re writing a science fiction or fantasy piece, you’ll really need some notes about the world you’re building. Here’s some basic questions you can ask to create a fantasy world: http://www.sfwa.org/2009/08/fantasy-worldbuilding-questions/

3. Characters, a.k.a. your starring cast:

It never hurts to know things about them. Jot down notes about their life stories. Their personality traits, and where they come from. The way they look. The reason they’re in your novel in the first place. The more you know about your characters, the easier they will be to write about.

4. Conflict, or the protagonist’s issue:

Your story’s central conflict. Every story has a protagonist with a yearning for something, and there are stakes involved. Usually there’s an inherent conflict in the story. Know what these are. Make notes, so that when you’re stuck, you can go back to this central conflict.

5. Destination, or where you’re headed:

It always helps to have an idea where you’re headed with a story. You don’t need to have it all figured out, nor do you even need to end up there if you find out it’s better to go another way. But if you have a destination in mind, you’ll have an easier time figuring out what happens next.

Part of the fun in NaNoWriMo are the crazy ideas your brain comes up with that you’d never come up with otherwise. The editing process for a NaNo project is often long and arduous. And that’s okay. You can always fix it later. No matter what happens, have fun, and keep writing.

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How about you? Any NaNoWrimers want to share what you do to prepare? How about what your favorite thing is about doing NaNoWriMo?

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10 thoughts on “Fiction Friday: Six Weeks to #NaNoWriMo – Here’s 5 Things You Can do Now to Prepare #writetips

  1. Stephanie says:

    I’m thinking of actually attempting NaNo this year to fast-draft the sequel to Shelf Life. I know most of the things you mentioned above, but for me, that’s not quite enough detail. I think I’m going to write out a “timeline” (as opposed to an overly strict outline) of the main events. My brain can fill in the rest on the fly.

    Thanks for these tips! (And feel free to look me up on the NaNo site!) Best of luck to you 🙂

  2. Annabelle Blume says:

    I have done Nano once before. I didn’t finish, but I hit the half way mark.

    I love your tips. I plan to do Nano this year (which incidentally should be nearly impossible since my sister is getting married that month) and I want to approach it a little more organized than last time. I’m still a pantser at heart, but a path to follow is good.

  3. Dame Gussie says:

    I did NaNoWriMo last November. I can’t believe it is only 6 weeks away. I haven’t decided what my topic will be this year. I have so many flowing from my brain. You gave me some great ideas to flush out on focus on before it starts. Thank you.

  4. Stefanie says:

    I’m attempting NaNoWriMo for the first time after talking myself out of it the past few years. The thought of pantsing absolutely terrifies me so I’m doing a little prep just now. I’ve figured out a really rough plot, and now I’m going to start delving deeper into it and figuring out some of the finer details. I might fail miserably, but I’ll never know if I don’t try. Really useful tips. Thanks a bunch.

  5. angelaackerman says:

    I am not doing NaNo this year–giving myself a break. In fact, I plan on going on a massive reading binge! But, definitely prepping now is the most important thing to do. The year I didn’t spend enough time prepping, I stalled halfway in. Really disappointing, but lesson learned.

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