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Six ways to prep for Nanowrimo 2023

With only three weeks left until Nanowrimo 2023 kicks off, there’s still time to prepare your story so you can hit the keyboard hard on November 1st. More importantly, a little prep will give you something to fall back on when the words run dry on November 21st.

I won’t be on board the Nano train this year because my editing schedule’s out of sync and I’m going to Disneyland Paris for my birthday in the middle of the month. My current Nightmare Vacations WIP was an April Camp Nanowrimo baby, so I won’t be missing a year without the Nano buzz.

To help you keep the buzz going, here are my top tips for Nanowrimo, some of my posts that might help you and a few places to find more help.

Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

My Nanowrimo 2023 prep tips

  1. A little story prep goes a long way. As a plantser I’m not into hyper-detailed outlines, but it’s as helpful to know where you want your tale to end as it is to know how you want it to begin. You don’t need to micromanage your story, but even a little planning will pay you back handsomely. Broadly sketch out your three acts or five acts, your hero’s journey or your W plot, but don’t worry if you have blank spots — the chances are that they’ll make sense as you write the story.
  2. Don’t worry if it wanders off. Characters have a habit of wandering off to unexpected places. Give them some freedom and see what develops. If you feel they’ve gone too far, stop for a minute to consider how the unexpected developments affect your story. See how you can draw them back to the key points you want to hit (most importantly, the ending).
  3. Don’t panic: it’s only your first draft. Most of us read our first drafts and wonder which idiot let a cat dance on the keyboard. Typos, cliches and clumsy dialogue are all perfectly normal in a first draft. Editing, revising, polishing and proofing are something you can do after Nano. If a scene is mostly dialogue or worldbuilding, you can come back later to build up your layers of storytelling. After all, you’re not going to submit this to a publisher or put it up on KDP on December 1st. Seriously, you’re not, are you?

Nanowrimo 2023 prep assistance

It doesn’t matter if this is your first Nano or your fifth, you can make it better by seeking the wisdom of other writers and editors.

The official Nano website was upgraded last year and it’s full of useful advice, beginning with Nano Prep 101. They’ll continue to throw advice and motivation at you for the whole writing month and the Nanowrimo YouTube channel is packed with advice.

You can also find write-ins — real and virtual meet-ups for nanoneers (nanonauts?) — where you can share the buzz and the pain of trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Read How Not To Write A Novel

I can’t help banging on about my favourite writing manual. HNTWAN is a short, accessible, entertaining and practical guide to all the ways you can go wrong when you write. It doesn’t lecture you about good writing or the importance of the Eng Lit canon and it’s written by editors who have seen the best and worst that publishers receive.

Help for plotting and writing

There are lots of planning and writing tools out there, and Plottr is one of the most accessible that I’ve found for turning my vague ideas into a working outline. They also have an excellent YouTube channel, full of short video and author interviews on how to structure different kinds of stories.

I would also recommend Scrivener’s regular podcast, Write Now With Scrivener. Journalist Kirk McElhearn interviews writers about their careers and how they make use of Scrivener to create and edit their work.

Good luck with Nanowrimo 2023!

What are the best blogs, books, videos, podcasts and tools you’ve found to kick-start your Nanowrimo adventure? Let me know in the comments.

Header image by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash.

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