Have you thought about participating in NaNoWriMo 2019? Even if you’ve already committed to take the leap and join in this crazy movement, you may still be wondering about the logistics of how to write a novel in 30 days. Trust me: you can do it!
However, writing a novel fast will be SO much easier if you prepare ahead of time. I joined in NaNoWriMo for the first time last year, and I did prepare ahead of time, but then I changed my mind about what I was going to write just a few days before November 1st. I still loved writing a fast draft of my novel, but it would have been easier if I had outlined and planned that story ahead of time. This year, I’m doing things differently.
I’ve gathered a list of resources from amazing writers to help you and me prepare to write the first draft of a novel!
Brainstorming for Your Novel
If you’ve ever quit writing your novel before you’ve made much progress, try brainstorming. Eva Langston might as well be speaking to me in her blog post about the importance of brainstorming before you begin a writing project. She says, “To write a better novel, spend more time prewriting.”
Cris Freese gives ideas on how to effectively brainstorm a novel in this article from Writer’s Digest. Of course, brainstorming is the time to let your imagination run wild, but sometimes even a free run needs a little direction.
I was surprised to learn there are multiple methods for outlining a novel. There’s no right way to do it—choose the process that appeals most to you.
Shauna Philp details an intricate outline that helps writers create a plan for a novel while also getting to know characters.
I pretty much spent my entire Saturday night scouring K.M. Weiland’s site Helping Writers Become Authors. Her content is incredible, and she goes into extensive detail about writing techniques. Check out her series of posts on how to outline your novel. She also has a workbook that I’m using to outline my novel for NaNoWriMo 2019 (as well as like a thousand other books and workbooks on Amazon).
I also love Kristen Keifer’s site Well-Storied and am a regular visitor. She describes different outlining methods to help you determine which works best for your style of writing.
Kristen mentioned the “snowflake” method in her post. In this outlining process, you would start small and build up to more detail about your novel as you go through the ten steps. By the end of the process, you should be ready to write your first draft.
What topics do you need to research to make your novel more authentic? Is there a place or time period you need to learn about?
One of my main characters in the novel I’m writing for NaNoWriMo has amnesia. I’ve seen plenty of movies with characters who have amnesia, so I could try to write without researching.
But that’s a sure way I could botch this character’s situation, right?
I don’t want his situation to seem cheesy or unreal, so I’m going to learn how amnesia affects different people, as well as the different types of amnesia people can contract.
Check out Kristen Keifer’s tips on how to research your novel effectively, including tips on how to interview, search the internet or books, and make good use of museums.
Tauri Cox also provides actionable tips to research a novel in this blog post.
Creating an effective plot structure is a weakness of mine. How about you?
I get excited about an idea without thinking of how all the pieces and characters will fit together. If this sounds familiar to you, check out these incredible resources:
K.M. Weiland provides another series of blog posts about story structure. She also has an inexpensive eBook about the same topic, titled Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story.
Meghan Rogers details the 3-Act Character Arc and Story Structure, which focuses on building both the character and plot.
A well-crafted novel will mean nothing if you don’t have well-developed characters. Creating realistic characters can be a challenge, but all of these resources will bring you closer to knowing and understanding the people who make up your story.
Kylie Day created a list of questions to help you create a unique voice for your character:
Dig deep with this list of questions from The Novel Factory. These questions range from get-to-know-you information to more personal details about your character.
What if your character isn’t likable? How can you keep your readers engaged? Meghan Rogers gives tips on how to write about a character you wouldn’t want to invite to dinner.
Kristen Kieffer created an entire workbook to help you develop characters who will make an impression. It costs, but the price is low for the value it provides.
Extra Writing Resources for NaNoWriMo 2019
And as a bonus, K.M. Weiland provides this extensive (as usual) list of common writing mistakes. Don’t get lost in this, but use it as a guide to improve your writing!
Last year, I read 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox because I still wanted to be able to spend time with my family while I’m writing a novel. 😉 It’s a short read, but it had actionable tips that helped me write a novel in 30 days and still have a life.
If you’ve never read Anne Lammott’s Bird by Bird, get it NOW! Or tomorrow, but soon. I first read this book over 15 years ago, and I still turn to it regularly for writing advice. It’s one of the best writing books I’ve ever read.
If you do take part in NaNoWriMo 2019, I wish you the best luck! Finishing an entire first draft of a novel feels incredible, and who knows, maybe it will become your published masterpiece someday.
I’d love to hear about what you plan to write for your NaNoWriMo project! Tell me about it in the comments!