NANOWRIMO is a writing challenge that goes on every November where lovers of literature everywhere take on the same goal—to write an entire novel in one month. See how you can successfully achieve this goal by following these great tips!
Table of Contents:
What is NANOWRIMO?
NANOWRIMO stands for National Novel Writing Month. It occurs every November and refers to a writing challenge to finish the first draft of a novel by the end of the month. So if you’ve always wanted to write a book now is your chance!
So the logistics of NANOWRIMO is to get a full, first draft done by the end of the month. The official final wordcount goal is 50,000 words. If you divide that into the 30 days of November, then you’ll need to write about 1,667 words every day for the whole month of November to get to the final word count and end up with a full first draft.
Final Word Count Goal: 50,000 words
Daily Word Count Goal: 1,667 words
But ultimately NANOWRIMO is about you, your writing goals, and what works best for you. Some people only have time to write on the weekends and that’s ok! If you’re a weekend writer then can write 3,571 words for each day of the weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), instead of writing 1,667 words each day of the week. Over the course of the weekend your new word count goal would be:
Weekend Word Count Goal: 10,000 words each weekend
How to Write a Novel
1. Pick a genre
The very first thing you should decide when going into NANOWRIMO is the genre you’d like to work with. If you’re going to write a book it’s good to first know what kind of book you want to write. The kinds of stories you could write are an endless list of categories and subcategories, so if you want to see a more detailed list check out Literary Genres.
But here are some of the more basic literary genres:
- Historical fiction
- Science fiction
It also might be important to decide who your audience is before writing because that can decide a lot about how you write your novel. Thinking about what age group you are writing for is a great way to start so your reading level and content cater appropriately to your readers.
2. Pick a perspective
First Person: This perspective is written in the main character’s point of view. The narrating character tells their own personal story with their own words. When writing in first person you’ll use words like I, me, us, my, and we.
Second Person: This perspective is written to address the reader directly. It’s as if the narrating character is telling a story to the reader directly. When writing in second person you’ll use words like you, referring to the reader who the narrator is speaking to.
Third Person: This perspective is not written from the point of view of the character or the writer. Instead, a third party narrator is telling a story that they are not themselves in any way apart of. This can also be referred to as omniscient point of view, because the narrator is like the all-knowing god of this story. When writing in third person you’ll use words like he, she, they, and it.
Multiple Perspectives: You can also write your book using multiple points of view. This is especially common when writing in first person because then you can switch between the firsthand perspectives of different characters throughout the story.
Present Tense: You can also write your story in the present tense. In this case you would write as if the character is telling their story as it is happening. For example you would write, “I walk toward the closet door and open it.”
Past Tense: It is much more common, and even recommended, to write your story in the past tense. This means you would write the story more naturally, as if it had already happened and someone is narrating a detailed, perfectly remembered account. For example you would write, “I walked toward the closet door and opened it.”
Ultimately, if this is your first novel, it’s recommended you write in third person, in the past tense. If you feel a little more confident in your writing abilities then you can try out writing in first person, or even switching between multiple points of view throughout the story. If you really want to be different, you can write in the present tense, but most books are written in the past tense.
3. Create the world
All stories need a setting. Maybe your story will occur in a small town or the big city. Maybe it’ll take place in an alternate universe, or a completely different fantasy world of your creation. Get a clear vision of what your world is like, and all the important aspects of the world that will affect your story and characters.
4. Create the characters
There are many ways to create really great characters. You can make a vision board for each characters to keep tabs of all your inspiration for who they are. You’ll also want to find names for them and keep notes on all the things you know about each person appearing in your novel.
5. Make a story outline
Now that you have the materials and initial ideas you need to make a story, it’s time to start outlining! One thing that can really help you storyboard your book is to first think about your beginning and your ending.
There are many templates and guidelines out there for how to format a story outline that can help you with all of this.
- Freytag’s Pyramid
- Snowflake Method
- 8 Point Arc
- 3 Acts
- The Hero’s Journey
Imagine the rise and fall of a pyramid. The story starts with exposition, rising action, peaks with the story’s climax, falling action, and ends with the resolution. To see the story outline in even more detail check out the 7-Step “Freytag’s Pyramid” from the Writing Itch.
This method involves starting with a small story summary and expanding it to have more and more details until you have a larger story.
The 8 point arc includes 8 key story points that you can write about in order to have an 8 step plot outline for your novel.
The first act is the setup, act two is when the confrontation occurs, and act three is the resolution. This outline is great for writers who just need a really simple idea of the basic flow of their story.
The hero’s journey is a classic story outline you see in popular books like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. It’s similar to the 8 point arc in that it has a detailed 10 step plan for your story outline.
Write out your key scenes on different notecards. Then you can use a wall or bulletin board to place your notecards in order. This outline technique is great for writers who often rearrange events.
This outline is for when you have multiple plots happening simultaneously. You can have a main plot and sub plots, or have equally important A, B, and C plots.
- Ask a question
- Introduce us
- Origin story
- Flashes, dreams, and memories
Also known as in medias res, starting in the middle of the action can be a great way to get your audience hooked right away and keep impatient readers from putting the book down after the first page.
By starting with a question you can immediately give your book an inquisitive tone.
You can also start your novel by introducing the reader to something or someone important. You can describe the setting, the world they live in, or a key character.
If your story has important background information then you can start with the origin story of your kingdom, or main character.
You can also start your book out with an important flashback into the past, a foreshadowing flash into the future, in the lucid landscape of a telling dream, or with key memories.
Every story needs some riveting conflict. It’s what keeps the story going and keeps your readers interested in what’s going to happen next. For more help in brainstorming your main and sub-conflicts read, “Decoding the Six Conflicts in Literature (With Examples).”
Some people really struggle with how to end their book. There are many things to consider in order to create a good ending. You’ll need to ask some important question like, what goal or goals you want accomplished or unaccomplished by the end, how your characters change, and what do they learn or fail to learn.
- The Happy ending
- The Tragic ending
- The Twist ending
- The Cliffhanger
The goal is accomplished and things are better now.
The goal fails and things are worse now.
The goal is accomplished, but for some reason things still end up worse.
The goal fails, but for some reason things still end up better.
The goal remains unaccomplished, leaving readers in suspense, or in the middle of events.
Every writer has their go-to resources for writing. Eventually you might find blogs, forums, or books about writing that you like.
- Writer’s Digest: Write Better, Get Published
- How to Participate in NaNo Prep 101
- What is NaNoWriMo? And How to Win it in 2019
How to Cultivate Yourself as a Writer
Like with any hobby you should look into bettering yourself as a writer, just as you would if your hobby was hiking or drawing. Here are some things you can do to really enter into the writing world:
- Join writing groups
- Write with others
- Get feedback
- Read books you love
- Read books on writing
How to Stay Inspired Throughout November
When you’re on a writing deadline it can be really hard to stay inspired. Everyone has their own tricks to beating writer’s block and as you write more frequently you’ll gain a list of your own. Here are some things you can try to get you started:
- Explore Pinterest
- Make vision and mood boards
- Get in nature
- Take care of your physical and mental health
- Keep reading things you love
- Watch things you love
- Listen to things you love
- Set up your workspace so it’s decluttered and free of distractions
NANOWRIMO is like a community event on a larger scale. By joining the groups and forums you can accomplish your goals along with your fellow writers and who knows?! Maybe you’ll make some friends or publish something great! What’s more, writing novels can potentially become a lucrative at home job to get your household some extra income.
If you’re going to do NANOWRIMO this month, you may need a little help preparing. If you do need some financial help visit a Check City store or our website to take out an easy to use Personal Loan.
Learn some other tips about making more money, “Making More Money.”
Thinking about writing as a career? “How to Choose a Career” can help you decide if a career in writing is write for you.