1,667 words per day if they're writing every day.
2,273 words per day if they're only writing on weekdays.
6,250 words per day if they're only writing on weekends.
Either way it's a pretty hefty feat, and not something to walk into unprepared. Even if you're a "by the seat of your pants" type of writer.
Which is where planning and plotting come in. Sure, if you're a pantser, you can sit down and bang out a couple chapters, maybe a whole book, but can you do it in a month? Probably not. At least not without a little bit of preparation. For all the pantsers and everyone else, compiled here is a short list of things to keep in mind, ways to prepare, what not to dos.
Let's start with the most important: PLANNING
Instead of giving you the long and winded version, let us cheat and just link to some really awesome deviations that can explain it so much better:
Planning the Evil Plot
A half-guide, half-narrative on writing a story
brought to you by Super Editor
Before I start writing, I like to have some idea of where I'm starting, where I'm going, and how I'm going to end up there. Let's say that I want to write a comedy about an author who suddenly changes places with her Mary Sue. I usually jot down some basic ideas:
Sarah, the author: ~13 years old, average-looking, glasses, rather tall and gangly
Ellemere, the Mary Sue: ~16 years old, long flowing hair, violet eyes, etc.
Forrest (Ellemere's love interest) : ~18, stereotypical pretty boy who is too dark and broody to make a good love interest
Leon: ~17, Ellemere's somewhat dorky friend who falls in love with her but is cast off to side in favor of Forrest
Tangent: For those of you who are confused, the ~ symbol means "about." I think it comes from math.
I like to draw, so I'd probably make doodles of these characters too. Drawing characters is a great way to develop th
How to Write a NovelOr at least how I plan to write my novels. Right now I'm tweaking a novel for release (aka Fine Drafting it). No matter how essential this step is, fine drafting a book doesn't feel like real writing, so I thought I would flex my writing muscles by trying to recapture what it took to bring this book into existence. What burbled up from the morass seemed about as wiry as Jeffy's run through gangland in the Family Circus cartoon that never made it to print (ask your parents kids). So. I decided to iron the process out and streamline the steps into what you might call "Ikea Instructions for Writing a Novel" a short simple guide to the mechanical side of bringing a book together.
One word of warning though, some of this is untested advice. It is a combination of the way I did it as well as the way I now see that I should have done it. Whether or not it actually works I won't know until after I write the next book. So take what you read here with a grain of salt.
How to Plot Like a GrimIn ten simple steps, you too can plot like a Grim.
1. Get an idea
This can be a brief snippet of dialogue. Or an ending that just seems perfect. Sometimes it's just the concept of what I'd like to see a character go through. I write that down. Usually it doesn't see the cold light of day for at least a couple months, but when I've thought about it long enough and can't seem to get the idea out of my head, that's when I sit down and start plotting things out a bit.
2. Work out the basic plot
Now that I've got the idea, I need to work out the basic details. But how do I do that? Well, I write it down. Then I think about the different angles to get to that idea. I write those down. If it's dialogue, who's talking? What do they feel? Who are they talking to? If it's a snippet of a scene, who's in the scene? Why are they there? What are they doing? What's going on outside of that scene?
How to Stop Planning and Use What You've GotArticle cowritten by ShadowedAcolyte and neurotype.
We've chosen to present this in bullets. The first few are ways to tell when your planning has gone too far; the rest are how to get past that.
Featured literature was chosen for its ability to present exposition: good pacing, tantalizing hints, etc.
How do I know I've planned too much?
When you can't hold it all in your head.When you can't explain it without a long-winded summary."So you've planned X. How will you reveal X to the reader?" If you can't immediately think of a good idea, it's probably overplanned.
Volume: how much of your story is world-building/backstory?
Properly spaced, you could get up to 10% world into a story without ruining the book (e.g. for an epic fantasy or something else not set in a place readers will immediately recognize). The rest should be happening now.If the setting is much more familiar—like, Everytown, USA, it could easily be 1% backstory.
Please Pants Responsibly (Paper Notebooks FTW)
There are two ways to write a novel. Plotting (you make an outline, a plan, a roadmap if you will, and then you sit down and write it) and pantsing (you write "by the seat of your pants, throwing caution to the wind). So when I get asked if I'm a plotter or a pantser, I'm all like er, uh, hold on, let me? Pantser? I think? But I kind of, um, do planny things?
And it gets kind of awkward because in these inarticulate moments I have managed to confuse everyone including myself. And probably spilled a drink.
In recent discussions, however, I've had a bit of a revelation, silly as it is. I've realized that I -- like many writers -- am a plotter/pantser hybrid. And perhaps what I'm doing is something we could call Pantsing Responsibly. And, maybe, just maybe, I could share some of my responsible pantsing tips with other writers. Starting with paper notebooks.
Anyone can find a notebook. If there isn't alread
What should you be doing before and during NaNo?
Here are some tips to help you focus on your writing and keep you motivated to continue on even when you're having a brain fart.
Have a story you want to work on. Something you're excited about. You're stuck with these characters for the month. Make sure you like them. Or at the very least, like torturing them.
Know your characters. Make them friends. Even your villain. You wanna know everything there is to know about your characters BEFORE NaNo starts. Otherwise, you may find yourself a little lost after the first few chapters.
Be consistent. It's a marathon, not a sprint! Don't try to bang out 10,000 words in the first day. You'll burn yourself out!
Figure on not working Thanksgiving (for the Americans), and figure some off days for the rest of the world. You're not gonna end up writing every day for the entire month. Plan your time wisely. Know what days you have doctor appointments or previous engagements and work around them.
Treat Yourself. Write for half an hour and then nom a small yummy treat. Repeat.
Write on schedule. Writing at the same time will train your brain to want to write and be most creative at that time. This is effective even when not trying to do NaNo.
Spend a little bit of time before NaNo starts figuring out how, when and where you're going to write. Don't try and figure out your perfect setup on November 1st because it'll be too late. Know where you're gonna sit, how you're gonna have your prep material setup, what will help get the words flowing out of your head and into your finger tips.
A blog or side diary to track progress and keep your mind sane.
@ is your best friend. When you're stuck on a description, dialogue passage, character reaction or pretty much anything just type @ and then what you want to include there. Examples: @description @name @dialogue. Then once you figure out how you're going to handle that part just search for the @ sign in your word processor. This works for both NaNo and regular writing.
Make sure your research is done before November hits. Otherwise it'll be your excuse to stave off writing. And that's bad.
Word Wars and Write Ins. They're a grand place to get lots of words down. I'll be running a few chat events in the CRLiterature chatroom. So keep an eye out for the chat schedule which should be coming out soon.
Make sure the people you live with know you're doing NaNo. This way they won't be offended when you're completely ignoring them. If you have small kids, make sure you have a spouse to take care of them [if you don't, quick, you still have a couple weeks to snag one] or family/friends that are willing to help out.
And above all else, have fun. There is no reason to stress over NaNo. It's supposed to be fun and challenging. Not heart attack inducing.
What Not to Do
Don't get sucked in Wikipedia, TVtropes or any other sites like that. In fact turn off your WiFi so the internet isn't a distraction. All your research should be done before NaNo, so this shouldn't be an issue. If you REALLY need to use the internet, have one specific task in mind and as soon as you're done with that, close the browser window.
Don't stress if you miss a day. Just tack a little extra onto the next four days' goals and you'll be back on track. If you miss a week, you may be in trouble. This is where having a schedule comes in handy. No not a schedule of what time you're going to write, but knowing days you will definitely be writing and what days you'll be unable to due to prior engagements.
Don't edit as you go. Write what you write and leave it at that. There'll be plenty of time later to edit. But during November, DO NOT edit anything that you write. You'll get stuck editing and not writing.
Don't worry about the quality of the writing. The goal is to get 50k words down. Editing word choice and grammar will come later.
Don't be discouraged after the first week when the words aren't flowing as smoothly as they were at the start. It's called a plateau, and you have to force yourself through it. Consider jumping a couple scenes ahead if need be.
Don't do NaNo instead of homework. That's just asking for trouble.
Avoid becoming sick or getting in car accidents. They will kill your word count quickly.
I'm Stuck! What do I do?!
Your brain has been attacked by the evilness that is writers' block or brain freeze. Obviously, this isn't a good thing during NaNo, so you're just gonna have to work yourself through it. I'm a firm believer in just sitting there and writing whatever comes to mind until you get back into the groove, but here are a couple ideas that come from other deviants on how to get out of that rut your brain just fell into.
Death by Shovel. Take a character (any one will do) and kill them with a shovel. That should get things moving along.
Natural disaster. Mother Nature is a bitch. Let her wreak havoc on your characters. Storm of the century style!
Step back and write a quickie flash fiction scene of something that's been floating around in your head. Get that out and then get back to work. Even if these scenes aren't used in your final product or even toward your NaNo word count. They're great ways to get your creative juices flowing and those words flowing on to the screen.
Change your location. Not your story location. Your ACTUAL location. Go somewhere else. If you usually write indoors, try going outside. If staying at home isn't an option, go to a local park, your public library, a coffee house. A different place will spark fresh ideas simply because you're in new surroundings.
You Mentioned Chat Events?
That's right! I'm still finalizing the details on the chat events schedule. But I do know I'll be hosting a PreNano Chat on the 30th! So, if you're not already watching, add CRLiterature to your devWATCH now to keep up to date!
AND...don't forget to add your name to our poll so you can receive motivating notes and be kept in the loop for all the NaNo fun!