• Elan Cassandra

Prepping for NaNoWriMo

Some last-minute work.

It's that time of year, and like many other writers, I'm getting ready to take advantage of the community adventure that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has become. Alongside my fellow writers, metaphorically that is, I'll be working toward the NaNoWriMo of writing 50,000 words of a novel by the end of November. That's a little under 1700 words every day, which is very achievable if judgment of those words can be suspended a little while.

As I write, it's late on October 27th, which means we all have four more days before kick-off on November 1st. I'm not historically a pantser, so I've been doing some prep work over the past week. I thought it might be nice to share with you the approach I've taken in case you have a bit of an idea but need some inspiration for some last-minute prep.

Here are the first steps I took--questions that I asked myself and answered over a period of 2-3 days (although they could theoretically be answered in a couple of sittings in one day).

  1. What is the seed of your story?

  2. Why are you telling this story?

  3. What is this story about on an emotional level?

  4. Why is it this character whom this story is happening to?

  5. What is the inciting incident--the first domino that gets the story started, and what is the key incident--the moment when the character gets involved in the story?

  6. What is the false belief your main character holds, and what is the truth that they will learn by going through this journey?

From there, I started on free-writing sessions. Each day, I start writing to myself about what I'm thinking, what I'm still unsure of, where the characters might be coming from, things that I think might happen, etc. I've set aside one hour a day for these free-writing sessions.

By now, a few events have started to clarify themselves as plot points in this story. As they've become clear, I've written them into my structure spreadsheet. Of course, I don't yet have each section filled, and I may not by the time NaNoWriMo starts, but I'm fine with that. I'll continue to fill it--and make adjustments--as the story presents itself to me.

If you'd like to use this spreadsheet for your own planning, please feel free. You can find that template here.

I hope you all have a fantastic NaNoWriMo! Remember, this shouldn't be a stressful thing. It's crazy to write a novel in a month, especially if it's your first. So no pressure--let's have fun.

Feel free to add me as a buddy on the NaNoWriMo site, on which my username is @elancassandra.

Happy writing!


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