NaNo Need-to-Knows: An Introduction

It was a bit of a shock a few days ago when I received a reminder from NaNoWriMo to announce my NaNo novel for this year. Silly, I know. You’d think I have a firmer hold on the progress of time, but there you go.

If you’re new to writing and stumbled onto my blog, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, where the goal is to write a “novel” or part of a novel of 50,000 words in the month of November.

It’s a huge amount of fun, if you can handle the pressure, and the nice thing about it is that you’re part of a larger NaNo community during this time. In fact, I met one of my best friends because of a NaNo event in my area. So yeah, it’s a great way to get involved. Just click on the link up top for more information.

Anyway, since NaNoWriMo can be a bit overwhelming, especially for first-timers, I thought I’d spend the rest of October and November to give a bit of advice from my eight years of NaNo experience.

On Mondays, I’ll do a series of blog posts (although the first post in this series will be on Wednesday to fit everything in, and I might use more Wednesdays if I need to). On Fridays, I’ll be updating on my YouTube Channel. But don’t worry, I’ll be posting the video and my script on my blogs as well.

If you are joining and you want to buddy up with me, click here.

Okay, so before I start, I just want to clarify something about my approach. I’m a full-blown character-driven pantser, so I don’t do much in the way of planning before I start a rough draft. That said, these posts will be useful to plot-driven plotters (which would be my polar opposites) as well. All you have to do is take my plot-related posts as reminders to include later if you’re a pantser, and as some things to keep in mind if you plan if you’re a plotter. And depending on whether you’re a plot-driven or character-driven writer, you can scramble the order of my suggestions to fit you. All writing methods are valid, as long as your method helps you create a strong foundation to your story.

And the first few posts I’ll be writing will be about the things you need to build that foundation. Then as we go into NaNo itself, I’ll be changing to focus more on NaNo survival. (Because hey, no one said NaNo is easy.)

For ease of use, I’ll be using this post as a table of contents for you to refer to.

Table of Contents:

  1. Your Characters
  2. Picking Your Story Idea
  3. Your Story’s Goal
  4. The Inciting Incident
  5. How to Maximize Your Chances of Winning NaNoWriMo
  6. Conflict and Stakes
  7. How to Avoid Writer’s Block If You’re a Pantser
  8. Tips for Week 1
Who’s going to join NaNoWriMo? What are you doing to prepare?
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17 thoughts on “NaNo Need-to-Knows: An Introduction

  1. “What are you doing to prepare?”
    Flailing about (metaphorically) in a panic because I haven’t decided what to write yet. I am a planner, and I need time to plan, especially now that I have an out-of-the-house job. I’ve spent this month so far trying to narrow down my options, only to find myself knee-deep in timelines and outlines. It’s a mess.

    Anyway, I wanted to say that I appreciate what you said about all methods (planning, pantsing, throwing words at the wall to see what sticks, etc) being valid. Those who feel their method is superior to the other have become a pet peeve of mine recently.

    Good luck with your NaNo!

    1. Hey Kristi, welcome to my blog. πŸ™‚

      Ooh I know that feeling. That’s why my vlog post on Friday (which will be the first vlog in this series) will deal with deciding which story idea to work with.

      I agree with you when it comes to people thinking their method is superior. I believe that whatever method allows the writer to finish their story is the superior method for that writer. πŸ™‚

  2. I’ll be there through NaNo. Normally I pants everything just trying to get to the big battle that I know is coming, but I decided it might help me write quicker if I’ve got a better grasp on the road ahead.

    1. Yeah I find I get much further to have at least a grasp of some basics.

      Every time I’ve failed, it’s because of the fact that I’d left something important (like a major goal) by the wayside back when I started writing.

  3. Loving the blog design Misha! Your covers are beautiful so it’s great to showcase them in the header like that! Thanks for dropping by my blog. I am getting fabulous reviews (so far) for my horror collection. Always puts a smile on my face. Those stories have been through lots of changes!

    I wish I had the time to commit to Nano but, like last year and year before, there’s always something else I need to do. Although I suppose I am doing Nano split in two projects for my Masters (two stories of 15’000. One to be handed in around three weeks and the other in August) plus essays, reading and other nonfiction projects!

    My methods vary according to what gene I’m writing. I have no idea why, I noticed recently. πŸ™‚ Mostly I make a rough plan for the 1st draft which is skeleton-like and then I panster-blast it to add layers (mostly character led decisions). No Idea where that technique came from; it’s a very organic thing for me (as with most of us I expect).

    As always you are busy, which is great. Keep writing X

  4. Great idea for a blog series! This will be my fifth year doing (and winning) NaNoWriMo. (I refuse to fail.) I’m not doing a lot of prep, but I’ll be watching a Dyatlov Pass movie before the challenge starts to make sure my novel isn’t too similar to that plot. That’s about it. Otherwise, a character will show up and guide me.

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