Friday, September 16, 2011

Ready, Set Plot!(How to Win NaNoWriMo, part 1)

You will never write an excellent, ready for publication, first draft in a month. No matter how hard or how careful you are, you'll never do it.

And that's what NaNoWriMo's all about! NaNo focuses on "quantity, not quality."  The philosophy is that too many people get caught up in editing, trying to hard to make it perfect the first time, and they never finish. With NaNoWriMo, you don't have to worry about that!

Oh, and by the way, I'm not going to explain what NaNoWriMo is or the rules. You can find that in their own website down below, which is written much more wittily than mine.

And that's the key to NaNoWriMo, which starts in November. Sign up at

As NaNo comes around, the blogosphere will be swamped with posts about it, and I'll have to try to make my posts different from other people. I think a good tip for beginning Wrimos is: read up on all the different tips the former winners post about!  Different things work for different people, and you'll be able to form your own custom arsenal of tips!

You might think "what is that crazy woman doing posting about NaNoWriMo in September!?" Well, September is a great time to start thinking about what you want to write about, the style you'll be writing in, and beginning to plot.

Tips for stage one of winning NaNoWriMo:

1. Maintain a winning attitude. The people who say “Hmm, I’ll try to write a novel in a month. I’ve never tried it though. I dunno.” are almost always the ones who lose. It’s vital that you start out saying “I’m going to win this.” Say it. Come on.

2. Think about your idea. Most prior winners have had their basic ideas since July XD.  Don’t worry about what’s publishable. Write about something that makes YOU excited!

3. This kind of segues from question two.  Don’t even think about publication, at any stage of your writing.  Not when you’re plotting, not when you’re characterizing, never.  Whatever you write, no matter how awesome you think it is, will always need extreme editing before even thinking about publication. That’s the only time I’m going to mention publication at this stage of NaNo. Don’t think about it.

4. Plot. All winners do this.  This is how we do it. Start with a blank piece of paper, and make a timeline.  Make blank spots for the parts you don’t have filled in yet. There ain’t no way around it.  And be aware that this is most likely not going to be the way your story turns out.  I have at least five outlines lying around for my last NaNoNovel.

5. Pick a person/tense to write in. (First? Second? Past or present?) If you don’t know what this is, look it up, because it has a huge impact on the way your novel turns out. Most people turn to either first or third person past.

6. Characters: I don’t advise making character sheets or coming up with characters first, then coming up with a plot based around your characters. No matter how interesting you think your characters are, most characters are incredibly boring when they’re not being used for something in the plot. I suggest coming up with the plot first, then pulling characters out when you need them. Don’t insert characters just for the sake of having them there.

It would also be a good idea to start carving out time to write, and figure out what time you write best.

I haven’t started on my outline yet, but I have a general plot.  

More NaNo tips soon!

PS. This is a given. Don’t co-write for NaNoWriMo. Just don’t.
PPS. If you've done my tips already, congrats! you deserve a break! Get stocked up on food and sleep! XD


  1. I've never participated in NaNoWriMo before, but this year I'm planning on giving it a shot. (Or should I say winning? ;) I've been throwing around some plot ideas, and I think I might try writing out a timeline like you suggested. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Hooray for NaNo!!! Great tips!! :)

  3. My goodness, I need more tips like these. XD My last NaNo was a fail....well, actually scratch that. It was a SUCCESS, but I went about 6 months of utter hatred for the thing. XD Now though, I love it! :D I am even writing a sequel to it! ;)

    Anyways, these are great! ;) I have had my idea since May. How sad is that? XD I've been saving this lovely idea for then though. I already have a plan as to how I am going to get into the 'mode' for writing my story too. ;)
    I am plotting (not planning (heehee, sorry, inside joke with Chibi)) this Nano, and I'm really happy with it. :) I need to do some outlining on paper. Not the computer. ;) Oooh hard. LOL!! ;)

    Excellent post Amaranthine, I'm looking forward to more!!! :D

    P.S. I am still doing some character pages once my plotting (not planning) is done. ;) XD


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