It’s mid-October, and many established authors are preparing to embark on their annual NaNoWriMo project. The experienced NaNo writers are making outlines and creating character studies. They’re just setting up the background, so they don’t have to stop and do that during the writing process.
All this preparation will jumpstart their project when they sit down and begin writing a manuscript of at least 50,000 words on November 1st.
For the next thirty days, they will spend several hours every day writing nothing but new words in a new manuscript. For many of us, this is when we get that rough draft of our new novel out of our heads and onto paper so that we have that all important “new novel every year” going out the front door along with the novellas and short stories we generate to keep the content of our author pages fresh and updated.
I have been a Municipal Liaison for my region since 2011, and my co ML is author Lee French. Between us, we keep the writers in our region stoked about their projects and help them get through the rough spots. We host write-ins, both virtual, and at libraries and coffeeshops.
As established authors, we have learned a few tricks that we are always happy to share with those who are planning to “do” NaNoWriMo for the first time. If you are just embarking on this literary joyride for the first time, here are a few quick tips and resources to help get your novel off the ground:
Things you want to have at your fingertips, so you don’t have to stop and look it up:
MAPS: If you are writing a story set in our real world and your characters will be traveling, walking a particular city, or visiting landmarks, bookmark google maps for that area and refer back to it regularly to make sure you are writing it correctly.
If you are writing about a fantasy world and your characters will be traveling, quickly sketch a rough map. Refer back to it to make sure the town names and places remain the same from the first page to the last. Update it as new places are added.
TECH: Many people are writing scifi novels. In hard scifi, technology and science are the central core of the stories, so it’s a good idea to know what tech is available to your characters well in advance of writing their scenes. A little planning now will aid you greatly in the writing process.
If you are writing fantasy involving magic or supernatural skills, briefly draw up a list of rules for who can do what with each skill. Remember:
Looking things up on the internet can be an incredible time-sink. Bookmark your resources well in advance, so all you have to do is click on a link and get the information you want. Then you can quickly get back to writing.
Resources to kickstart stalled creativity:
Basic resources to bookmark for the fundamentals:
Three websites a beginner should go to if they want instant answers about grammar, written in plain English:
Never delete, do not self-edit as you go. Don’t waste time re-reading your work. You can do all that in December when you go back to look at what you have written.
If you want to “win” and have your wordcount validated on the national website, write at least 1670 words every day. This is 3 more than is required, to account for differences in how your word processing program and NaNoWriMo’s official word counter validates wordcount. You don’t want to come up short at the end! This has happened and is quite frustrating.
Most importantly – enjoy writing that novel. This is time spent creating an amazing story only you can tell, so above all, enjoy this experience.
To learn more about NaNoWriMo, go to www.nanowrimo.org.
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Connie J. Jasperson is a poet and the author of nine novels. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies. A founding member of Myrddin Publishing Group, she can be found blogging regularly on both the craft of writing and art history at Life in the Realm of Fantasy.