Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this November? In less than two weeks the word frenzy is on! This is my first year as an official participant. I wrote a novel in a month on my own back in January and loved it so much that I couldn't wait to go again in November. Though still a newbie myself, I made a list of dos and don'ts after January's experience. I'm much better prepared this time around and so I thought I'd pass along what I learned.
Keep it simple. My plot got a little out of control last January. In the words of Tim Gunn it morphed into 'one hot mess.' The story had its good points but I overcomplicated the plot for the time I had to work everything out. My advice: streamline your plot. While I did manage to tie up my loose ends, I was nearly hospitilized in the process.
Stay in modern times. I wrote a medieval mystery last winter. While I do know quite a bit about the time period, I don't know it all and I didn't always have the time to look things up. I got frustrated and ended up with a lot of placeholders and generic descriptions as a result. So unless you know everything about the time period or you do your research before November, I suggest keeping your plot in the modern world.
Write what you love. For all my research issues in January, I do love both the medieval period and mysteries so I had a lot of passion for my story. Pick a genre and a subject that you love and it will push you through the dark hours in November.
Write what you know. Unless you do spend a lot of time researching beforehand, it helps to stick with things you're familiar with including settings, careers, cultures, and hobbies/interests.
Planning doesn't hurt. In January, I spent about five minutes the night before I began brainstorming for a plot. But I kept wishing I had thought things through a little more before I started writing. If you've written a novel-in-a-month before, you know there's very little time to think once you start. So this year, I'm taking the next couple of weeks to get my plot worked out, think about my characters (and name them all), and do any research I know I need to do.
If you've never written a novel in a month, I promise it will be the most thrilling, painful, and revitalizing experience of your writing life. If you're unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, definitely check out the official website and consider joining this year. And if you're a NaNoWriMo vet, pass on your words of wisdom.
NaNoWriMo here we come!