Planning? Planning. UGH... Effort. I don’t need to plan.
Trust me - I’ve tried that. You must prepare for NaNoWriMo or an evil unicorn will come and
haunt your dreams for 30 days, and you will almost definitely quit halfway through (trust me, I
have first-hand knowledge). That was a joke (or was it...?)
Different people need different amounts of planning. But that doesn’t mean you can get away
with not deciding on any plot lines or creating character depth. Think about it like this:
You decide to dive into a shark pool. Some of you will be able to get away with a few swimming
lessons and some of you would prefer to have the security of spending a month studying the
wikiHow guide on how to survive a shark attack and memorizing your plans on how to escape.
I don’t mean to scare you, but NaNoWriMo is sort of like that. The more planning you do, the
smoother your month is likely to go. Remember, November is for writing like a maniac, not
thoughtfully looking at a brick wall as you decide if that character should die or just get away
with a burn.
What do I need to do?
There are a number of ways you could go about this. Some people like to develop a character
first and build on that while others like to start with the plot line.
I’ve seen The Snowflake Method to be very useful. To sum it up, The Snowflake Method is
essentially building your story from a sentence until it becomes a developed novel. It may seem
confusing, but I would stick with it; I've used it many times while writing, and I've found it to be
really useful. You may remember Sanguine’s competition in July. I'd recommend reading her
blog post on this subject, because her explanation is a whole lot better than mine:
The absolute bare minimum for a plan (as they used to say in primary school) is an introduction,
a build-up, a climax and a resolution. You could mix it up to add your touch - the resolution at
the start, perhaps. Plan away!
But doing the bare minimum is absolutely no good if all your characters are flat and
boring. Character questionnaires are really handy - it is good to have something to fall back on if
you have run out of ideas in November. But don't worry about going too far; writing down your
character’s favorite cat color is awesome, and you never know when you might need to use it.
You could also try telling someone else your master plan. We writers often don't realize that
something doesn't make sense while we’re all caught up in our own dream world. Having an
extra set of eyes is perfect for the planning process.
Finally, I would like to take the time to give a special mention to the Young Writer’s NaNoWriMo
high school workbook. You may be like me with this idea in that you want to be treated like an
adult, but it's undeniable that this resource is gold. Treat it like your bible for the month. Not
only does it have everything that you could ever need (from character questionnaires to survival
tips), it is COMPLETELY FREE.
Have fun and happy writing,