6 Tips to Preparing for NaNoWriMo

6 Tips to Preparing for NaNoWriMo
October 11, 2016 2 Comments For Authors, Writing Advice J.K. Allen

6-tips-toWhat is NaNoWriMo? Why it’s National Novel Writing Month where we write 50,000 words in 30 days. This can be great for those of you who have an idea rolling around in the back of your mind, but haven’t done any actual work towards writing it. There’s no better time than November to hash that idea out. But 50k in a month is no easy feat. That’s why we use October to prep to win NaNo once November rolls around.

So how do we prep for NaNo?

Story concept

First we need a story idea to develop (I wrote about developing story concepts here). This is where you brainstorm all possible story ideas and figure out your story goals and conflicts. Let your brain wander and write everything down. You never know what will make it into your first draft.

Character development

Now it’s time to develop your character. Who is your protagonist and what are they like? Remember that every single character has to have a goal and a flaw to move the story forward and make your characters relatable. We want three-dimensional characters so spend time with yours. Develop your antagonist just as much as you develop your hero. Write character sketches for all your major characters and smaller sketches for your minor characters. Get to know them all.

1st, 2nd, or 3rd POV

Now you need to decide on your POV. Is your story a character study that would be best told from one person’s perspective? Then first person may be the way to go. Or is your story plot-driven and revolves around a cast of characters? Third person may work better. Decide how you’ll tell your story. For more on POV read here.

Story structure

RyanMcGuire / Pixabay

Now it’s time to choose your story structure. I wrote on the Three Act Structure, Five Act Structure, Fichtean Curve, and Hero’s Journey outlining the plot points for each structure. Choose your structure and begin mapping out each major plot point starting with the inciting incident. Even if you normally pants it (fly by the seat of your pants), it’s good to know your key events to light your way as you go.

Set your own goals

Finally, it’s time to set your goals. Whether it’s a daily or a weekly word count you’re striving for, it’s good to have solid goals to strive for and keep you on track to win NaNo. Are you just going for the 50k or are you going for a novel length of 60k to 80k depending on genre? Either way you’ll have to write a certain amount every day to reach those goals.

Get support

One last note for NaNoWriMo is to announce that you’re participating and to set up a support system. Whether that’s getting your family to agree to not disturb your writing hours or by going to NaNo writes ins in your area, it’s good to have people to cheer you on. Reach out to other writers and enjoy the process. Prepping your novel before November will help guarantee your success and get you started writing from day one.  Our Write Side will have a support group on Facebook and on the nanowrimo site as well.

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo before? Did you win? Comment below and happy NaNo!


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J.K. Allen Julia Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.
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  1. 2 Comments


    Some great information!

  2. 2 Comments

    Tips for Winning NaNo - Our Write Side

    […] wrote last week on how to prepare for NaNo, but some of you pantsers (ones who fly by the seat of their pants) may be shaking your head right […]


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