Charlotte Rains Dixon  

Nanowrimo Prep

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Ebook presentation to remind you that Nanowrimo starts in four days.

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:

  • Character
  • Setting
  • Plot

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:


  • Name
  • Age
  • 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:
  • Home
  • Work
  • "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
  • 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!

0 thoughts on “Nanowrimo Prep

  1. JJ LOCH

    Great NaNo post. I have some friends participating in it. I love the eHarl site. Have won a Writing Round Robin Desire Chapter Contest in the past.

    Currently I’m taking Kate Walker’s advice to let the scenes develop the plot and am finding my current ms way easier to write. Before I outlined and tried to control the characters. Now it’s the other way around. 😀

    Good luck with NaNo.

    JJ 😀

  2. Charlotte

    Yes, there was just a long discussion of characters taking over and doing unexpected things over at Blog Catalog. What works for me is a balance–enough planning so I don’t go completely astray, and then letting things happen. That, after all, is part of the fun of writing for me–to figure out what is going to happen.

  3. Lynda Lehmann

    I think it’s great to go with the sense of discovery that’s involved in a spontaneous approach i.e. lettting the scenes dictate the plot.

    But you have to be careful with this approach, as it’s easy to write yourself into a corner with either contradictions or plot ramifications that are not really advancing your theme/plot/characterizaton.

    I guess for me, a rough outline works best, so that my scenes unfold at least to some degree, consistent with the final outcome.

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