I haven’t done National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in four years. I got busy with other projects, but this year I’m in a position to take a break and enjoy the spontaneity of starting a fiction novel from scratch. It’s an opportunity to rediscover the joy of creating something with abandon.
If you haven’t done NaNoWriMo, the main rule is NO WRITING ON YOUR NANOWRIMO PROJECT before November 1st. But it’s okay to plan it. Write descriptions of your characters; jot down random ideas to include; make a list of scenes.
Then on November 1st, take off writing.
Some participants of NaNoWriMo are “pantsers.” They prefer to not plan at all before November 1st. That’s okay. I’m a “plotter” and that means I am planning my story before I write it. Also, okay.
Like my step-father collects tools in his garage, I’ve collected writing tools over the years and I’m using them to plan my NaNoWriMo moonth. Here’s they are:
- NaNoWriMo Calendar-there are hundreds of different calendars for keeping up with your word count for NaNoWriMo. This is the one I found helpful. I type in a general description of what happens in the scene–nothing too specific.
- Write Your Novel from the Middle– This book by James Scott Bell presents a unique way to plan your novel: start from the middle. The fifty-percent mark of your story is where the protagonist decides to commit himself or herself to finish the battle, so to speak. I used the half-way point as a marker for my protagonist deciding against all odds to rescue his kidnapped friend–at the risk of losing everything. Then I planned backwards to the beginning of the story. Next, I planned forward from the middle until the end of the story. Try it!
- Name Generators-Need some ideas for naming your characters? A restaurant? A boat? A town? Use an online name generator. They’re free! Two of my favorits are Seventh Sanctum and Fantasy Name Generators.
- Snowflake Method-Randy IngerManson created this method of developing a novel layer by layer. It’s fantastic. He has software for the writer to use the Snowflake Method, but it’s not necessary. Just go to the link provided, and the article will describe how to create a novel using the Snowflake Method.
- Scrivener-This is one of the best writing softwares out there. It’s so flexible–it can be whatever the writer needs it to be to help him or her buid a novel. There is even a template in Scrivener using the Snowflake Method.
So, I’ve mixed and matched the tools above to plan my novel for this year’s NaNoWriMo project. I’m still creating character background. If you have never done NaNoWriMo, but want to, you should take my advice: just do it!