One Writer’s Journey

October 12, 2018

5 Minutes a Day: NaNoWriMo

Do you plan to take part in NaNoWriMo?  For those of you who have somehow missed the phenomenon that is NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month.  During the month of November, each participant commits to drafting a 50,000 word novel.  No, you can’t rewrite something you’ve already written.  No, this isn’t the time to finish up something you’ve started.  When you sign up, you are committing to draft at least 50,000 words of a NEW novel.

I’m not going to be doing NaNoWriMo for three reasons.

  •  I will most likely be rewriting a book I just got paid for.
  • I will most likely also be rewriting a book that is due at the beginning of November.
  • I already started drafting my novel.

That said, NaNoWriMo can be a great program to get you started.  But be sure to spend some time planning your story.  Yes, planning.  Here are 5 five-minute tasks for you to complete before November 1.

  1. Decide which of your great novel ideas you will pursue.  If you are as busy as I am, the temptation is to spend October getting things done with little time spent thinking about what you are going to write.  After all, I have a notebook with 261 story ideas in it.  No, really.  I just checked.  261.  To be successful you have to know which story you will draft because you have some prep work to complete.  That leads me to …
  2. Write a premise or elevator pitch for your story.  In broad strokes, what is it about?  Where does the tension come from? What is the character’s goal?
  3. Spend some time getting to know your main character.  What does she want more than anything?  What is on the line if she fails?  What stands in her way.
  4. Are the stakes high enough?  Is her ambition big enough to carry a book?  Because if not you may have troubles making that 50,000 word count.  Take a good look at what you’ve laid out and increase the stakes as needed.
  5. Outline.  I can hear the pantsers screaming from here.  I’m not saying do a detailed outline but do jot down the broad strokes.  What is the inciting incident?  What is the climax?  I know it is out-of-order but those are the two points I tend to start with mentally.  What attempts does the character make to solve the problem?  How does she fail?  For some people, this is enough to get started.  If you aren’t one fo those people, spend a few more five-minute sessions laying things out.

NaNoWriMo.  It’s doable especially if you’ve done some prep work.

–SueBE

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