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Tips and Tricks 3: 3 Best Approaches to NaNoWriMo

Updated: Oct 30, 2022

What's up Write Voicers!

Sorry that I'm a day late with my post! It's been a hectic month with moving, starting a new job, and getting settled in at my new place. The truth is, I'm still not completely there. But, I didn't want to leave you all hanging for the month of October, especially when I know that November is the month of NaNoWrimo--woot woot!

Anyways, I'd hoped to post a scary story for funsies this month, but I never got to it aaaand I had to re-schedule my interview and book review for this month to next month. No worries though, you'll get to read all about The Amazing Maggie Chowder in November. That said, let's jump into today's post: The 3 Best Approaches to NaNoWriMo.

Don't you just love the colors? You can download this nifty banner from NaNoWrimo.

Approach #1: NaNo Prep

I haven't done this one personally, but I've heard great things about NaNoWrimo's Prep course, which you can find information about here.

Essentially, NaNo Prep is NaNoWrimo's way of getting you ready for, well, National Novel Writing Month. NaNo Prep is great for planners who like to have every detail of their story written out and who want to wisely manage their time during NaNoWriMo. And, with their easy-to-use-guide, you'll learn how to:

  • Develop a Story Idea

  • Create Complex Characters

  • Construct a Detailed Plot or Outline

  • Build a Strong World

  • Organize Your Life for Writing, and

  • Find and Manage Your Time

I don't know about ya'll, but those sound promising. And the best thing about all this? It's FREE! And who doesn't like free stuff?

Unfortunately, since this is a precursor to NaNoWrimo, this year's NaNoPrep 101 is over. But, you can still download all the information and use it to inform your writing for this year. Or, just use the guide next year when it gets close to time. Either way, NaNo Prep is one of the best approaches that you can take to complete NaNo Wrimo.

Who knows, maybe she's telling her students about the Concept Document as well?

Approach #2: Concept Document

I've known about NaNoWrimo since high school, but last year was the first time that I was able to actually participate from beginning to end and IT WAS GREAT! I felt so accomplished to say that I completed 50,069 (yes, that was my EXACT count) words in one month (Granted, it was a little stressful due to Miss Rona, but that's another story) and am super excited to do it again this year; but, none of that would have been possible without my handy-dandy-Concept Document.

The Concept Document is a wonderful tool for plantsers because you put as much (or as little) information in it as you want, giving you the chance to plan just enough to get you rolling but not too much that you can't have fun.

So, first things first, what's a Concept Document? Well, it's exactly what it sounds like. It's a document that has all the concepts written down for your novel, short story, play, movie, etc.

I learned about a Concept Document during one of my graduate courses at SCAD and, let me tell you, once I started doing them for that film class, I never stopped.

So, what's in a Concept Document? Another great question. Whatever you want to be in it, although I suggest following the format that was presented to me in class, where a Concept Document should include a

Working Title: The title that your story has at the moment.

  • Theme/Thematic Statement: What you want people to learn from your story/book. The theme is always a sentence.

  • Premise: A statement that tells the audience what happens from beginning to end. It's usually one very long sentence.

  • Logline/Elevator Pitch: The one-sentence version of your story that you'd tell Steven Spielberg in an elevator if you only had one floor to pitch it.

  • Character Biography: Biographies of all the characters in the book and relevant information about them such as their age, occupation, hobbies, etc.

  • Story Elements: The genre, where and when the story takes place, a reiteration of your logline.

  • Synopsis: A one-paragraph breakdown of what happens in your story from beginning to end. A synopsis only has the relevant information to the plot in it.

  • Story Treatment: A lengthy breakdown of what happens in your story from beginning to end. For a book, this would be chapter by chapter. For a movie, it would be scene by scene. Etc. A story treatment has all information about the plot.

Now, remember, what I've given you above is just a shortened version of the Concept Document. If you want a detailed example of what mine look like, drop a comment below and I'll be glad to share in a separate post!

Loving the vibes of this writing space. All she's missing is hot tea.

Approach #3: Just Write

Let me start this section by saying that I envy those who can just sit down and crank out a novel without having to do any type of planning. I used to write that way, but I quickly found out that it wasn't working out for me as well as I thought it did.

Anywho, this is to say that this last approach might seem a little weird because it's for the one's that do what I can't: the pantsers.

This approach is also probably the simplest and fastest and that's to just write.

I know, I know. It's not so much a tip or approach as it is a direction. But that's the important thing: Giving yourself some direction.

A lot of people come into NaNo and they overthink it. What happens if I succeed? What if I don't? Does it make me a failure if I don't hit 50k? Do I have to do it everyday? And so on and so forth. But the great thing about NaNo is that you're doing it at your own pace. So, sometimes it's cool to just sit down and write.

Who cares if you forget to track it or if you don't hit 50k in words? The important thing is that you sat down, you wrote, and you gave it a try.

Now, Write Voicers, go, and let your imagination flow!

Nothing says imagination like a dragon!


Let me know what your NaNo Project is in the comments and, if I see at least five, I'll write a special story just for you all! In the meantime, check out my other Tips and Tricks and let me know what you think!

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