NaNoWriMo Prep Tips

Can you believe we’re over halfway finished with October already? Where has the year gone? October is my favorite month, so I’m not thrilled to see it go. At the same time, November is coming… and that means NaNoWriMo! If you’re participating, I hope you’ve already planned a little. October is often referred to as NaNoPrepMo, after all. Whether you have some loose ideas, detailed notes, or a full-fledged outline, every bit of planning will help you in the long run.

NaNoWriMo Prep Tips

Even though October is almost over, it’s not too late to start planning for NaNoWriMo next month. If you’ve been putting off prepping, you’re in luck—I’ve compiled a list of my best NaNoWriMo prep tips. Feel free to give these a try and see what a difference it makes.

  • Start with an idea. For my NaNo novel, and for every other book I write, I start with a particular scenario in mind. The scenario often takes the form of a what if? statement. For example, "What if a teenager who lost his parents to a virus finds out that he and his sister have it, too?" (Blood and WaterIt's often the simplest scenarios that generate the most interesting ideas, so don't overthink it! If you'd like to develop a one-sentence pitch, check out this helpful post.
  • Brainstorm and jot down notes. Once you have a scenario or situation in mind, keep asking questions and coming up with potential story threads. At this step in the process, it's important not to censor yourself. No matter how unrelated or useless an idea seems, make sure you record it. You never know which ideas you might end up using.
  • Develop a story structure. If you're a pantser, this could be as simple as a few tentpoles you anticipate reaching in the story. Tentpoles could be major fight scenes, death scenes, kissing scenes, etc. You don't need to know every detail of the story, but it does help to have a few key moments in mind. If you're a plotter, go ahead and map the story out on 3x5 index cards or using the corkboard in Scrivener. I use a hybrid method for plotting similar to Ava Jae's, laying everything out in Scrivener. I also recommend her vlog on plotting. Not sure how to start your outline? Check out this post, too.
  • Keep an info dump file. Throughout the next month, you're going to get stuck. It happens to everyone. An info dump file is a great way to keep up momentum on the days when you find yourself grasping at straws. In this file, you can jot down setting sketches, snippets of dialogue, entire scenes, or anything else that you plan to use at some point in the novel. Prewriting this way will save you several times over, I promise.

If you haven't started planning yet, don't despair! It's never too late for you to start. Heck, I haven't even started plotting my WIP yet, so I'm just as big of a mess as anybody else. THERE'S HOPE FOR BOTH OF US! So go and get to plotting. :)

I have some more posts planned for NaNoWriMo next month. If there's any topic in particular that you'd like me to cover, feel free to tell me in the comments!

How are you preparing for NaNoWriMo this year?

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Coming soon: #NaNoWriMo! @brianawrites has some tips to help you prepare. (Click to tweet)