ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Prepare for Nanowrimo ~ National Novel Writing Month

Updated on August 13, 2012
Ready to start writing your novel?
Ready to start writing your novel? | Source

The Great American Novel

Nanowrimo is coming soon and will you be ready?

Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) happens every November. Writers and amateurs from all over the world spend November glued to their computers, tapping out the next great novel, all in one month. The goal is simply to finish ~ 50,000 words of a new novel and you are a winner.

Sound fun? At Nanowrimo, the online headquarters for the project, writers can register, ask questions, log their word count, and find support.

If you'd like to take part in Nanowrimo and be successful, here are some tips to help you prepare for November 1st, before you write the first line of your novel.

Where to Get Ideas?

Your Great Novel about outer-space can start with an idea you got from a picture on a website.
Your Great Novel about outer-space can start with an idea you got from a picture on a website. | Source

Start with an Idea

Do you have an idea for your novel already? If so then you are already ahead of the pack. If not, then spend some time brainstorming ideas. Get creative and try to find something you know you'll love spending an entire month writing about. Here are my best idea-generating tips:

  • Create a Mind Map or Bubble Cluster Sheet. Start with the hint of an idea and draw it out by asking questions about it. Let's say you'd like to write about outer space. Will your novel have aliens? Spaceships? A city or galactic village home on a distant planet? Just keep asking questions to brainstorm and answer them. Jot everything down.

  • Get more input. You can get ideas from anywhere. Try interesting news sites or newspapers, magazines, and other books in genres you like.

  • Write it down. Whenever you get an inkling of a story idea, write it down! That way you'll remember it. Don't think you'll still remember it later, too often you won't and the great idea will be lost. So it's helpful to keep a small pad and pen with you to jot down ideas as they come.

  • Talk with others. Kids are especially good at playing make believe and making up entire stories out of thin air. Play with some kids and see what ideas pop out.

  • Re-work old ideas. West Side Story is Romeo and Juliet. You can change the setting of a story to completely come up with a new idea. Change the main character's occupation, or put traditional character types into a new arena. Have fun and combine two used ideas into a new unique one.

How to Outline Your Novel

Outline

Now that you've got your idea, you're going to want to draw out the story into an outline. The outline will help you on November 1st to know where to begin and to guide you when you are in the middle of Chapter 15 and have accidentally killed off your main character.

To start outlining, it's time to ask more questions. Questions like...

  • Who is your main character, your protagonist?
  • Who is your antagonist?
  • Is this an ensemble piece? Who are your main characters then?
  • What happens? Write out a summary of what is going to happen in the story.
  • What are the main plot points?
  • What scenes have to happen in your story? Write out a summary of them.

Having the right supplies on hand keeps you motivated and organized.
Having the right supplies on hand keeps you motivated and organized. | Source

The Big Picture

Now it's time for some fun.

Get yourself a large corkboard and flashcards. For every scene you have, write it down on a flashcard and pop it up on the board.

You can use a classic 3-Act structure which simply means a beginning, middle, and end.

Arrange your flashcard-scenes on the corkboard in the order that you want. Now you can see where you have gaps and need connector-scenes. Think up scenes to connect other scenes and evaluate your story.

You can have anywhere from 40-60 scenes, it really depends on your story.

Get those scenes in the correct order.

Last Minute Questions

Now you can evaluate your entire story in terms of questions like:

  • Do you have a theme? And more importantly, are you happy with it?
  • Does the story flow?
  • Do you need to do more research in certain areas to be believable?
  • Do your characters need more backstory?
  • and so on.

You can evaluate your whole story this way, before you've written a single page. Then just go back to your scene cards or the written outline to polish it up.

Use the Nanowrimo website to find a cafe and meet up with other Nanowrimo's in November.  Time to get writing!
Use the Nanowrimo website to find a cafe and meet up with other Nanowrimo's in November. Time to get writing! | Source

November's Here!

And you are ready to write! Consider it a first draft and plug away, using your outline as a guide. If you haven't written an outline but want to use your scene cards, just arrange them in the proper order on the board and use that as your guide.

Nanowrimo is about having a deadline to get a great amount of work done ~ a whole novel in just one month. With an outline as your guide, you'll be able to concentrate on getting all those words down without having to worry about where you're going. You can spend the whole month happily emersed inside a story you'll already have come to know well. And if you decide you're not happy with the outline, well, then go ahead and complete your novel anyway, that's what Nanowrimo is about ~ getting it out of your head and on to paper. You can always brush up later. But most writers find having the structure of an outline to guide them takes away a lot of problems later on. Because if you spot any problems in your outline, you can fix the problems at that stage, rather than after you've already written a ton of words down.

It's 50,000 words in one month, November. Have fun with it!

Here's to happy writing and ending November with a huge accomplishment, your very own novel!

So use the time before to prepare and then you'll be confident when you have at it in November!

Comments on How to Prepare for Nanowrimo ~ National Novel Writing Month

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • nochance profile image

      Chloe Davis Smith 4 years ago from Duluth, MN

      Or you can just start writing on November 1st with no plan at all. That's how I always do it. I find if I try to plan it out I get really stuck. Just moving from scene to scene is great too. Evict your inner editor and let the story happen. You can always change it later and some words is better than none.

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Yes, that is the whole purpose of Nanowrimo, and a fun way to do it also ~ just get it out. But for myself, and I'm sure many others, preparing something ~ whether an idea, an outline, or scenes ahead of time ~ eases the whole process and makes November more fun and less stressful. I think it depends on each writer's own unique perspective and style of writing.

    • nochance profile image

      Chloe Davis Smith 4 years ago from Duluth, MN

      There are two ways to do NaNoWriMo. Plan, or fly by the seat of your pants. It really teaches you which writing style works best for you. As long as you get the words on the page it doesn't matter. :)

      Great hub by the way. Even though I'm not much of a NaNo planner I do plan other stories using many of these same tips.

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks for stopping by to share nochance. Have fun in November! :)

    • hopped profile image

      Meghan Hopper 4 years ago

      Thank you for writing this! I'm considering doing NaNoWriMo for the very first time this November, and while I'm a little nervous about it I'm glad to have a few guides along the way!

    • carozy profile image
      Author

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for stopping by. I hope you found this helpful. It helps me when I attempt Nanowrimo to have some preparation done. Good luck with your writing and have fun in November!

    Click to Rate This Article