The Blog of John Hewitt

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo

It is about a month and a half until National Novel Writing Month. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel over the course of the month of November. I have taken up the challenge five times, and have completed it twice, only once coming up with something I actually considered a novel. This year it is my intention to compete again.

In the past, I haven’t overly prepared for NaNoWrimo. The most prepared I had been was when I had a list of characters and a general idea of their relationships and “secrets”. The least prepared I have been is when I literally sat down on the second day of November and began to type with only a vague idea of who two characters were.

This year my goal is to be as prepared as possible. My goal is to have the following

  1. In-depth character descriptions for as many characters possible.
  2. A list of themes I want to explore.
  3. Descriptions of all the key settings.
  4. A map of the character relationships.
  5. A general plot outline.
  6. If possible, a highly detailed plot outline with a breakdown by chapters or beats.

The plotting represents the biggest challenge for me. BPlots are my weak point. I tend to start writing with very little idea of where my characters are going to end up. I then struggle to have things happen to them.

This year I have a bit of an advantage over previous years. I already have a good idea of who the two main characters are and what the backbone of their relationship is. This is a key difference between this story and some of my previous stories. Most of my previous stories have started with a single protagonist who starts, essentially friendless and as an outsider. This story is going to be more about a friendship. While the characters have only known each other for a few months, they are already quite close by the time the story starts. This should relieve some of the weight of having to introduce a character, one by one, to all the other characters in the story. The two main characters have known each other long enough to have a good idea of each other’s habits, strengths, and weaknesses.

Another advantage is that I have decided to once again set my story in the fictional town of Santa Creda. I have already spent a great deal of time fleshing out this location. Although I don’t intend for  the characters to frequent the same exact places as those from my previous story, the general atmosphere of the town, as well as its landmarks and politics, will remain the same. A few of the previous characters may also leak over into the new story, although I don’t have any specific characters in mind yet. They are still in town though, so you never know who might show up.

When it comes to plotting, I decided to give myself a bit of a crutch. I am setting the story during the Christmas holidays, which provides a natural backdrop of events that can be explored by the characters as they progress.

As I work through my preparations, I will post some of the pre-work here, along with my thinking behind how I approached these things. It should be fun.