What, you ask, is Nanowrimo? It is National Novel Writing Month and it is a kick ass way to get that novel you’ve always wanted to write jump-started. The idea is that you complete a whole "novel" in a month. For Nanowrimo purposes, a "novel" is 50,000 words. If you manage to produce that many words over the course of November, you can send your manuscript in to be validated and end up with a cool little banner proclaiming yourself a "winner."
The rules are that you can do as much prep work as you want to before hand, but technically you are not supposed to write one word of the novel.
So what are you waiting for? You have three whole days to get your act together. In truth, if you are interested in writing a novel, you might have an idea in your head. You might even have jotted down a few notes here and there. Now’s the time to organize them. For Nanowrimo purposes, and in order to get yourself started, its important to think about the following:
There is more, so much more, that goes into a novel, of course. But we are talking here about writing a lot of words in a month and so we’re hitting the high spots. Besides, you only have three days to get yourself organized. So think about the following and you’ll have a great start:
- Appearance (height, weight)
- Mannerisms, quirks, traits
- Inner conflict
- Outer conflict
- Character arc (if you know it–this may be a bit ambitious for this stage of the game)
- Role (ie, protagonist, antagonist, etc.)
- Overall setting, such as region, whether it is rural or urban, time, etc.
- Settings for each character:
- "Third Places" ie, places he or she likes to hang out such as a coffee shop or bar
- Frequent haunts
Admittedly, this is where it gets tough. Remember: you have to force it some. All plots start out lame and mechanical. But it is in the writing that you figure out the nuances and the arcs that make them come alive. The key is to just get started. Here are some helpful things to remember:
- All plot comes from conflict
- Conflict comes from characters wanting something they can’t get or from having to face a fear
- If you characters get what they want right away, you don’t have a plot. You have a bunch of happy characters, and
- Happy characters do not make interesting reading, so
- GIVE YOUR CHARACTERS A BURNING DESIRE, and
- DENY THEM. Make things really difficult as they try to attain their burning desires.
- One good way to start is to just make a list of things that might happen as your character is denied her desires. Then start to envision scenes.
- Also remember that plot comes from a combination of scene and exposition. You really don’t want too much of either one.
Okay, that is more than enough to get you started. So what are you waiting for? Hit the computers!