Monday, October 21, 2013

Are You Ready to NaNo?

by MarcyKate Connolly

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably heard me whine, er, mention how excited I am to start a new project for NaNoWriMo. If you’re not in the know, NaNoWriMo is a gloriously crazy challenge to write a 50K novel in the span of one month. It happens each November, and for me and countless others it’s something to dive into with gusto.

But like any challenge, it’s often best to go into it prepared. Everyone has their own way of getting ready, but I thought I’d share mine.

1) Brainstorm the Plot. Generally, this requires a lot of sitting and staring into space, then occasionally noting random twists or things that could happen. I am an unabashed plotter, but I suspect even those who prefer to pants their stories benefit from jotting down a few possible directions the story could go.

2) Write a faux query. I realize this tip may strike fear in the hearts of many given it’s an unfortunate, yet evil necessity (though not as evil as the equally necessary synopsis).  This doesn’t have to be a full length query, really it’s just a brief summary of the inciting incident and the basic problem of the book. Even just a one liner will do. This serves to remind me why I was so excited about the story in the first place when I start to struggle and it helps me stay on point.

3) MOAR PLOTTING. This can take a variety of shapes, and I know plenty of pantsers who prefer not to do this at all (which is completely fine and normal. Everyone’s process is unique!), but it’s probably my favorite part. I like to use the Save The Cat Beat sheet to help me determine how those ideas I brainstormed earlier will fall into which beats.

4) Cheat, and write a little bit now. I can’t help it. If I’m excited about a story, I’m going to want to write part of it. Usually the voice is in my head, begging to get out and play on the page for a bit. Why not just give in? You’ll only count the words you write starting November 1 toward NaNoWriMo, but a little head start like this can be pivotal in connecting to your character’s voice and mindset.

How about you? Will you be joining us for the fine frenzy in November? Please feel free to add your own Nano preparation tips in the comments! 

MarcyKate Connolly writes middle grade and young adult fiction and becomes a superhero when sufficiently caffeinated. When earthbound, she blogs at her website and spends far too much time babbling on Twitter. Her debut upper MG fantasy novel, MONSTROUS, will be out from HarperCollins Children's Books in Winter 2015.


Eli Ashpence said...

Thanks for this post! I was feeling a little lonely in my Nano prep. Good tips all around. And that Beat Sheet is a nifty little tool. It definitely makes me more confident in my outline, since it hits all of those points... right on cue, too!

Stephsco said...

Writing a fake query is a good idea; writing a query draft a few years ago clued me in to plot issues with my overall story. I would love to be a plotter but I find it so stifling. I have the brainstorming and the concepts and then I run with it. I think the query is a good start to some plotting. I started a character sheet last night. I'm still stuck on the character names and their cultural backgrounds, which I need to determine since they will drive the plot in some aspects. And yet, I just want to write the dang thing!

Jemi Fraser said...

I've done 5 NaNos now and I've loved them all! I was planning on skipping it this year because I'm desperately working on a couple of rewrites, but it's REALLY hard to resist the allure.

I'm a pantster, but I usually know the names of the 2 main characters, their issues/desires and a glimmer of the ending before I start :)

JeffO said...

NaNoNo for me, I have a project to revise and send off into the great big world. Best of luck to you, though!

cleemckenziebooks said...

I think that's what makes connecting with authors so great. No one does it the same way. Great post.