It doesn’t look like I’m going to be doing NaNo (aka NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month) this year, due to still trying to revise last year’s NaNo project.
However, I thought I’d put up some info for those getting ready to attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel in November.
Whether you’re a pantser (someone who writes with no plan/flies by the seat of their pants) or a plotter (someone who plans out the storyline of their novel in advance) or somewhere in between, it’s a good idea to know your characters.
After all, in a well-written book, your characters’ personalities will dictate their actions, and have a huge influence on the plot, so it’s important to know what makes them tick.
I always fill out a questionnaire like this one from agent Carly Watters, for each of my main characters, so I can get a feel for their personalities.
I think it’s also important to know what kind of emotional growth your character is going to experience, as an aid to plotting. This series of blog posts by author K.M. Weiland includes a set of exercises to help craft character arcs to drive your plot.
As far as the actual finding-time-to-write part goes, check out this post written when I still had 2 kids at home. I still use many of those strategies while drafting (although I’m definitely a plotter now).
My penultimate (heehee, love using that word) NaNo advice is to celebrate every milestone. Stock up on Halloween candy and reward/bribe yourself (1 bar for every 1,000 or 2,500 words or maybe 1 bar for an hour on the computer, depending on what works best for you). Treat yourself to dinner when you hit 10,000 words.
(If using food as a motivator doesn’t work for you, there are lots of other options: no checking your phone/social media until you hit 1,000 words; an hour of reading for every three hours of writing; treat yourself to some NaNo swag when you hit 10,000 words; go Christmas Shopping when you hit 30,000!)
And my final advice: don’t stress/panic. There’s no penalty for not “winning” NaNo. Any words you write during NaNo are more words than you had at the start of that month, so just entering makes you a winner in my book.