You may think I’m jumping the gun a little when I say that it is time to start thinking about NaNoWriMo. After all, it’s only the beginning of September and NaNo is in November.
Except, November is less than TWO months away and if you hope to hit the 50,000 word mark in 30 days you need to know what you’re going to write about. That takes planning (unless you are just going to type the same word 50,000 times, of course).
For my first NaNo, I knew what I wanted to write. I had a story idea in mind that had been clamouring to be told for years. That was the good news. The bad news was, I only knew the character and what I wanted to accomplish in general terms. I had no real plot to speak of, no setting and no real sense of exactly how to tell the story.
Sounds like a challenge, doesn’t it?
Except, when I started writing, everything just flowed. I guess subconsciously I knew the story so I just let it work its way out. Twenty-one days later, I was finished.
The next year I wanted to write another story in the series. I came up with the story idea a couple weeks before but didn’t have a whole lot of detail in mind. Because of that, it was a much tougher slog. I was marching in virgin territory. Still, I finished, this time in twenty days. The story was by no means as good as the first one and still needs a lot of editing. When the editing is done, however, I believe it will be as good or even better than the first one.
The third year was much like the second. I had a story idea shortly before NaNo began. It wasn’t fully fleshed out and was a bit of a struggle to write. I finished it though and it too sits and waits to be edited.
Now, my point to this whole rambling post: prepare well in advance and you will have a much easier time of NaNoWriMo. I won the second and third time because I wouldn’t let myself lose. I know of many others who got stuck and didn’t finish because they weren’t quite ready enough.
Have a list of characters and the basic story plot. Do a chapter by chapter outline if you can too and things will be easy. Well… comparatively easy, anyway.
You also need to start telling yourself a few of the basic rules of NaNo so you don’t forget when the event begins.
Rule 1: To reach the goal, you need to write 1,667 words per day, every day. Write more if you want, but don’t write less. That number is hard enough to do, you don’t want to get behind.
Rule 2: It’s OK to suck (courtesy of Mur Lafferty for that bit of wisdom). You are writing 50,000 words in a month. Not every one of those words will be great.
Rule 3 and the most important rule: Do NOT edit in November. Not once, not ever! Going back and editing only serves to slow you down. If you have a better way of saying something, type it into your manuscript. Nobody ever said you couldn’t have the same passage twice in your NaNo novel (besides, it boosts your word count).
Rule 4: Get involved with your local group. Participate in Word Wars and write-ins. They will help you hit more words than you ever thought possible. Take me, for example. I can do 600 or so words in a 10-minute word war. If I do three word-wars, I’ve hit my daily goal. Not so hard, is it?
So get out there and start planning how you will win NaNoWriMo 2010. I know I’m going to be.
Carved two entire chapters from my YA novel and I feel good about it. They aren’t getting thrown out; I expect to use them in either one of the already-written books or a brand new one.
I’m also busy writing GalaxyBillies episode 18. This is the ep. where the big battle takes place. I’m trying really hard to get it right so, wish me luck.