Prep NOW for NaNo (and the 2019 Golden Heart)!!!!

It’s October, and that means it’s time for NaNoWriMo!!!

Silly Elisa, some of you may be saying right now. National Novel Writing Month is in NOVEMBER, honey. You’re jumping the gun.

But nooooooo, my friends. I’ve learned through trial and error (lots and lots of error) that waiting until November 1 to get started is a big mistake. I’m a pantser by nature, but when it comes time to pump out 1667 useful words a day for 30 days straight, a little planning is actually in order.

Take heart, those of you who get hives just glancing at a spreadsheet. It doesn’t have to be MUCH planning. Just a little.

Here’s a handy guide to some good advice out there on how to get ready. Even if you follow just a little of it, you’ll get more out of November than if you go in completely cold.

-Larry Brooks has a whole series of posts over at published in October 2011 about using October to prepare for NaNo (they start here, or you can buy the whole lot in expanded book form here.)

-Alexandra Sokoloff has a great piece on using Three Act Structure (and “eight sequence structure”) to get your plot NaNo-ready. 

-I also highly recommend plotting advice from Ruby Sister Hope Ramsay, who is a super genius when it comes to plotting. Check out her post on Seven-Paragraph Synopsis (which is actually an efficient plotting tool if you’re trying to get an overview of your story!) plus her awesome outlining sheets .  One of the most helpful things for me is her post on writing middles. Also her advice on Black Moments.

Need more?

Check out advice from Writer’s Digest, Steve Shepard of Storyist, litreactor, and (from The Surly Muse) The Hailstorm Approach to getting ready in 7 days or less.

My own approach for the past couple of years has been to try to rough out 30 scene or chapter divisions for my book (even it’s not all the scenes for the book), so I can write 1667 word drafts for each of them during the actual NaNo month. That would give me great raw material to dive back into in December. (And remember, THE RUBY WINTER WRITING FESTIVAL starts in January!! A great time to take the hot mess of a NaNo book and craft it into a finished product!!) I’ve never followed this plan 100% (see self-identification as a pantser, above), but it’s kept me from just floundering around when it’s time to produce.

Don’t let NaNo sneak up on you. A little preparation in October will go a long way in November!!

And remember, the 2019 (and possibly very last) Golden Heart Contest opens for entries December 1st….so if you’ve got a not-quite-done manuscript you want to enter, NaNoWriMo will be the perfect time to get those final chapters DONE.

So are you going to tackle NaNo this year? What about the Golden Heart? Any other tips for using October to get ready?

7 responses to “Prep NOW for NaNo (and the 2019 Golden Heart)!!!!”

  1. This is excellent advice for any time you’re starting a book – thank you, Elisa! I would also add Michael Hague’s Story Structure as a potentially useful tool to help get your story framed.

    I won’t be doing NaNo officially because I need to have my draft finished before Thanksgiving so I need to start early (like now!), but I will be cheering on the NaNo-ers, including my niece who does it with her school. Good luck!!! 🙂

  2. Tamara Hogan says:

    Structure is your friend! I highly recommend Gwen Hayes’ “Romancing the Beat.”

    I don’t NaNo, but I’ll be cheering everyone on from afar!

  3. Tracy Brody says:

    Thanks for all the great resources! I’ve never done NaNo – never been at the right spot to start something. But someday… 😉

  4. I’m not a nano fan. Too many events in November, but this is super advice to prepare to start a book. Thanks.

  5. What a great list of resources. Good luck to all those gearing up for nano!

  6. Addison Fox says:

    These are fantastic resources, Elisa!!! Thanks for sharing- and good luck to all Nano-ers!!



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