Welcome To NaNoWriMo Prep School, Word-Nerds
National Novel Writing Month — aka the gibbered Lovecraftian utterance, “Nanowrimo.”
It fast approaches.
You may be partaking in this epic endeavor which asks that you write a novel-length work of fiction of 50,000 words (or more!) during the month of November. (I suspect I will inadvertently be partaking, actually. I’ll need to get 50,000 words down that month, too!)
If you are partaking, I’ll be here all November, and I think I’ll keep the blog posts during that time shorter and sweeter — a month’s worth of motivational boots-in-your-boothole to keep you on track and slugging away at the word count.
(Worth noting that NaNoWriMo is not for everyone. Everyone has a process unique to them, a way to get things done that is particularly and peculiarly their own. If NaNoWriMo feels like hammering a circle peg in a square hole, don’t sweat it — find another way forward.)
If you are getting ready for the wordery-nerdey coming up —
I got some quick tips for you.
Ramp Up The Word Count
If you are not yet putting words down daily, you need to flex them penmonkey muscles, so that, come November, you can pop open your word processor and say, “TWO TICKETS TO THE PEN SHOW,” which will earn you weird looks because:
a) you’re saying this to the cat and b) are pen shows even a real thing?
You need to work out. You need to exercise.
You must practice writing every day.
And build on the quantity of words you put down.
Start with 100.
And add a 100 more words every day until you’re approaching 2000 per day.
Doesn’t matter what you write, though I’d advise you keep it in the “fiction” category — fiction writing is a discipline all its own, I find.
Build that muscle. Gain momentum.
Take Your Characters For A Test-Drive
NaNoWriMo doesn’t give you a lot of time to get to know your characters. As such, it’s time to take those bad motherfuckers out for a test drive.
Take a character and write them into fiction unrelated to the novel you plan to write. Plop them into conflicted, challenging situations. You’ll find the character’s voice, demeanor, you’ll get to see what kind of choices they make. Run them through fictional gauntlets.
It’s a good way to learn about your characters before you actually drop them into your proper novel. (And, hey, bonus points: you might find that you’ve written some dialogue or some description you might actually want to keep and use later.)
Prep Your Story In Whatever Way Tickles Your Pink Parts
(Related: 25 Ways To Plot, Plan, and Prep Your Story.)
No one perfect planning-and-plotting method exists when it comes to your novel. Outlines, mind maps, Pinterest boards, hallucinogenic dream journeys into the world of the machine elves — hey, whatever makes your grapefruit squirt. But find a way. NaNoWriMo requires working to a schedule and hammering out word count in a relatively compressed amount of time, and you’ll find that comes a lot easier when you have some kind of map — even if that map is just a series of cryptic Post-It notes Scotch-taped to the family dog.
(One thing I would suggest, however, is that when plotting a novel, let the characters lead the way. My oft-repeated refrain is that plot is Soylent Green — it’s made of people. Characters will do things and in their actions and dialogue will create the events and complications that build the plot of your story. Don’t fit characters into a plot. Characters are the plot.)
Pitch Your Story In A Single Tweet
One of the questions I ask in the Thursday interviews here at the blog is for the writers to describe their books in a single 140-character tweet.
And I actually think many have some up with some really cool loglines, this way.
You need to distill down your story to a single sniper’s bullet — this idea isn’t meant to be comprehensive or exhaustive or tell the entire story. It’s just a hook. That hook is ideal for selling the story later on — but right now, it’s also ideal for crystallizing the idea in your mind.
(You don’t need to be married to the 140-character limit, but I’d say to keep the description to 100 words or less. From a logline to a very short synopsis.)
Narrative Incubation Time
Take time to think about your story.
This is, for me, narrative incubation time where you let your brain off its leash to frolic in the meadow and roll around in whatever creative poop it can find.
How you accomplish this — the task it takes to unlock this Creative Mode — is on you. I like walking, running, showering, mowing the lawn. You might like chopping wood, lifting weights, and currying a horse. That guy over there might get in the right headspace during acts of vigorous masturbation, algorithmic hive-mind design, and hunting humans for sport HEY WAIT YOU’RE ONE OF THOSE FILTHY ROBOTS AGAIN OH SONOFABITCH.
(And yes, I’m suggesting that robots masturbate a lot. TRUE STORY LOOK IT UP.)
Some Posts To Lok At:
Or, If You Don’t Have Time For NaNoWriMo…
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