How to Prep for NaNo in Just One Day

Okay, November first is just a day away which is a little late to decide to jump into National Novel Writing Month—but this is usually how it goes for me. So what do you do when you decide, last minute, to write a 50k novel in a month? Let's figure it out together...

Question #1: What are you going to write?

You should probably have an idea on this one. NaNo is traditionally a time when a lot of authors throw caution to the wind and try something new. If you have an off-the-wall idea, NaNo's the perfect time for that, too. You're only committed for a month, so if it doesn't work out or it's not a genre you're going to write in again, you're not obligated to keep going with it.

That's sort of how it'll be for me. A few years ago I wrote and published the first book in a Christian Romance series. I really enjoyed writing it, but I felt I needed to focus on my YA work, so I didn't continue with the romance series. (Romance isn't where I want to spend my career.) However, I did enjoy writing it, and I do have ideas on how to continue with the series, one does during NaNo...I think November might be the perfect month to whip it together.

Question #2: What are the story bones?

Knowing the bones of your story before you start will help you avoid writers' block—which you don't have time for when you're trying to lay down 50k words in 30 days.

The bones you need are:

  • How does the story begin?

  • How does the story end?

Any other bones you can add to your story skeleton, the better:

  • What's the catalyst (the big thing that happens to get the story started)?

  • What's the upside down world (Act 2)?

  • What happens at the midpoint to kick the story into high gear?

  • What's going to happen during the finale?

I need to figure this one out, myself. I know it's a romance, so it should have a happy ever after ending. I also like to include a mystery or thriller aspect to my romances, so...guess I better figure out what that's gonna be! If I don't know what the mystery is before I start writing, I know it'll make things sticky at some point.

Question #3: Who are the stars of your story?

Even if you're a discovery writer and don't like to spend a ton of time on character development ahead of time (plus, we only have one day left to prep!), because you're going to be writing quickly, a little bit of prep is going to help you a ton.

I suggest you create a basic cast for your story:

  • Who is the protagonist? What do they want and what do they need?

  • Who is the main secondary character?

  • Who is the antagonist? What do they want and how does it conflict with what your MC wants?

You don't need to write much to have enough to keep you going.

I have a little leg-up here, because we met my main character in book one. He was a side character in that one, but I know that Gavin is in his late twenties, has been seriously burned by love before and isn't interested in getting involved with anyone. He's a very private, reticent man.

His love interest is Hannah—a widow who was saved from an abusive marriage by her husband's sudden death. She's been a doormat but not anymore—she and her three daughters won't be anyone's victims.

The antagonist will be a snow storm that traps them in a hunting cabin—kids and all.

Question #4: What is your plan?

You've got to have a plan.

To write fifty thousand words in a 30-day month, you "need" to write 1,667 words per day. But what if you don't like to write every day, or can't? I mean, who's idea was it to put NaNoWriMo in November, the beginning of the busiest time of year?

Here's what you need to remember: You don't need to "do" NaNo in any particular way at all.

What's your writing style? What feels like the most comfortable way for you, personally, to approach this challenge?

Maybe daily goals feel too intimidating. Maybe you like to write in spurts—nothing for a few days, then a couple 5k days. I know I won't be writing every day. I always take Sunday off, and Saturdays aren't great days for writing, either. I usually like to aim for 2k/five days a week, but every day is unique.

In other words? YOU DO YOU and trust your own process.

We got this!

Happy Writing!