Welcome to week three of NaNoWriMo Prep mini-series. For those who are new, this series will be made up of four posts to help you prepare for National Novel Writing Month. To get caught up, you can find the first three posts, here (post 1), here (post 2), and here (post 3). This week’s post is all about Final Preparations. Before getting started, I just want to remind everyone the method I am using is part of Randy Ingermanson Snowflake Method. This post will focus mostly on step 8 but will cover 1-7 as well.
After the last three week’s, you should have at least a one-page synopsis of your story, maybe you went as far as and did the four-page summary. With that, you should have fleshed out your character’s. From the protagonist(s) and antagonist(s), and secondary characters. Maybe you just did the first two, or you went through and have a profile for every important character in the story. You need to do what works for you. Now, it is time to help you prepare to start writing this on November 1st.
Unless you have a very detailed outline, or I like to call it a turn by turn outline that literally is every action the POV characters turn. I have done these outlines in the past and they don’t work for me, but they may work for you. What I found does work for me is a scene list. This is step eight of Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method. Take your synopsis and start breaking down every scene. If you have the longer synopsis it will be easier.
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This is a picture, is how I do my scene lists. The first column is the chapter number, the second column is scene number, the third is POV Character, the fourth is the summary of the scene. The last for columns work in pairs. The first two are estimated pages for the scene and estimated of words for the scene. I have a formulate that bases 250 words per page. All I have to do is put the number of pages, and the formula tells me how many words in the next column. The last two columns are actually pages and words after I write the scene. I manually enter both of these.
If you would like this, you can download an excel file here. It is a two-page document one like the page is setup and another that keeps track of all the pages and words in each section. This is how I do it, you don’t need to do it like that. I find knowing all my scenes helps me write. I have tried in the past from working through a bullet system and fill in the space between as I write. I can, but this is so much better. I always know what I need to write.
There will be days usually as the weeks go by, it will get harder to write. Knowing what you need a scene to achieve makes writing a little bit easier. I’ll cover the writing process at the end. For now, let’s move on to the last part of prep. Besides the scene list, use the time left to go back and fix anything you think or know needs it. If it means going back and reworking your one sentence line, do it. Even if it means writing a whole new paragraph, page, and four-page summary. In the end, it will help you. I know that’s a lot of work, but it will save you from having to do it after you write the book and find that everything is confusing because your summary isn’t up to date with what you discovered after doing your character sketches.
If you are writing a fantasy and magic is going to be a big part of it, spend some time figuring out how it works. Same goes for technology if you’re writing a Science Fiction story. I am all about knowing how things work, even if you will not ever tell the reader how. You can still have that sense of wonder knowing how things work. Also, if you write just right, you will have your fans dissecting the story for any clues on how it does. Just a thought.
The same goes for the world, I love doing maps of my storyworlds, but not just worlds, dungeons, palaces, you name it I like to have it. It helps me keep track of where things are. You don’t need anything super fancy, just enough to know where things are. This just a helpful tool, but you don’t need to do any of this. I would say if you want to do this and you don’t have things to fix in your synopsis, do it. You story for structure should take focus over this. I only say that, because this is NaNo Prep. Any other time, I would say otherwise, mostly because there is no cropping deadline to start writing the story by.
Finally, I just want to give you some advice. The first day, probably the first week you may find writing is a blast and everything is just flowing out of you. Great. Get as much writing done as you can. The daily goal is 1667 words. If you hit this every day for 30 days you will reach the 50k word count goal to win. If things are flowing, in the first week keep writing, if you have the time. Why do I say that? Good question. As the weeks go on, the hard it gets. Life hits you. Something you forgot about comes up that you need to do, or something at work makes you stay longer hours and you don’t get to write. You may not feel like writing because you’re tired or sick or whatever the reason. Writer’s block may pop up, even with all the preparations you have done.
The more you get done while the fire is burning and words are flowing the better. 1667 is not that many words. You can say I can hit that daily. What about 2143? That’s a lot of words if you haven’t ever written a novel before. That is how many words you will have to write daily after missing seven days of writing. Wanna know how I know?
The 1667 word count, is based on 50k word count goal, and 30 days. Divide 50,000 by 30 you get 1666.666 repeating. The more days you miss the more words you have to write to win. Good news, one or two or even three days, isn’t that much different. There is good news. The more words you write beyond 1667, the fewer words you have to write the next day to win. If you write 5000 words in one day, you have a lot fewer words to write now.
Let’s say you write 5000 words on day one of NaNoWriMo. You have 45000 words left. You only have to write 1551 words from now on to hit 50k by November 30th. Let’s day two you write another 5000 words. Now, you have to write 1428 words per day. Now on day three something comes up and you can’t write. You have to write 1481 words to hit 50k. Not bad. Still low. The more words you can get written early, the better chance you will be able to hit the 50k goal by the 30th as other things pop up and take away from your writing time. Trust me, there is nothing more demoralizing and cuts off the creative juices to see you need to write 6000 words per day to win. For me, that would be a challenge. First timers or even experienced writers who have done NaNo for years may lose hope.
I have had years doing NaNo and the juices would not flow. I didn’t want to write anything. It is what eventually kicked me into gear to start planning a head and really using my free time to work on my projects. Two years later and I am doing well.
That is all for this National Novel Writing Month Prep series. I hope everyone gets a good start on Tuesday and goes strong and wins. There is a chance I will post a review of my NaNo writing experience. However, more than likely it will be part of my Weekly Writing Wrap-up. Check back on Friday for the next post in our new sub-series on Economics.