For those of you ready to plunge into Nanowrimo this year, I’ve provided some links to articles that will help you write your novel. Since churning out 50,000 words in a month is not for the faint of heart, it’s great to have some tips to add to your tool kit.
First, how to start? Starting a novel is one of the most daunting prospects of writing a novel itself. Not only does the page look especially blank at this stage, you can’t build from the last sentences from your last chapter. Instead, you have to create something from absolutely nothing and convince the reader that your story is one worth sticking around for. This is no small task.
However, don’t panic. You’re just writing a first draft. There’s no need to overthink things too much. You will come back and edit the beginning, perhaps more than any other part of your novel. Try writing something. It can always change later.
Here are some great articles on how to start your novel, in case you’re stuck on how to begin:
1) Writer’s Digest’s How to Start a Novel Right: 5 Great Tips
2) The Write Practice’s Three Ways to Start A Novel
3) Chuck Wendig’s 25 Things To Know About Writing The First Chapter
All of these posts provide suggestions on how to make a strong start to your novel. Some provide common problems with beginnings and suggest solutions.
“But wait a minute!” You might think. “First chapters! I don’t even know my story yet! This isn’t helpful at all!”
Well, this depends on your writing style. When you write are you a pantser or a plotter? That is do you write anything you want without planning by the seat of your pants, or do you plan everything out to the last letter? I prefer to pants my novel, since often through writing I get my best ideas. However, I’ve had to learn to plan out my plot somewhat otherwise I end up writing myself up the ying-yang and let me tell you it doesn’t end pretty. Now I do a pantsing-plotting hybrid that serves me well.
How you plan (or don’t plan) a novel is very much a personal choice. However, brainstorming and planning can help you learn about your novel better so that you are prepared once November begins to make your word count goals.
Here are some articles to help plan a novel:
1) Chuck Wendig’s highly comprehensive 25 Ways To Plot, Plan, and Prep Your Story
2) Dan Well’s 7-Point Plot Structure
3) Although I’ve never used this method personally, I’ve heard from others that they enjoy using the snowflake method.
4) Stuck for ideas? Check out my post on how to come up with an idea for a novel.
And last but not least, an article after my own pantsing heart that argues against planning:
1) NY Book Editors say Planning to Outline Your Novel? Don’t!
In the end, don’t get stuck in technicalities. Nanowrimo is for a quick first draft, editing comes later. Write frequently, write about what you care about, and write because you love writing and you’ll have written an awesome first draft. I guarantee it.