Are you ready for NaNoWriMo yet —that’s National Novel Writing Month? November is a big deal in the writing community, and anyone can take part! Whether you’re planning on the traditional formula (writing a 50,000 word novel in a month) or a rebel goal (a new RPG adventure, for example?) NaNoWriMo is a great chance to flex your creativity muscles and make something amazing. And Preptober? Well, this is your chance to get ahead of the game, and get prepared!
What is Preptober?
NaNoWriMo’s Preptober is a month of preparation before the NaNoWriMo madness begins! Writing 50k words in a single month can be challenging, so October is your chance to get everything ready. You can prepare as much as you want, and there are many different ways of doing so! Let’s take a look at five tips to make the most out of Preptober!
Tip 1: Prepare your world setting and inspirations
Preptober is the perfect time to start thinking about your world setting —especially if you’re writing fiction! A great place to start is a worldbuilding meta document, which is all the behind-the-scenes information for your world, and it includes several things like themes, scope, and focus. Of these, the Focus section of your world is especially important for Preptober: pick the active worldbuilding area you’ll need for your story, and don’t leave it! That’ll stop your story crawling out of control and help you get to the end.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to find some inspirational art and music if that’s something you use when writing. If you do it now, you’ll avoid spending hours looking for that perfect moodboard or playlist during November, while trying to get to 50,000 words!
Tip 2: Prepare your characters
Characters are the heart of your story —so they should be the heart of your prep too! Some people like having full character profiles, before starting, while others prefer going with the flow and developing them as they go. Whatever you choose, I recommend at least covering the basics! Come up, at least, with their names, abilities, flaws, and motivation. Take a look at our writing compelling characters post or, watch the video below, if you need some ideas! There’s even a small challenge/prompt at the end!
“Which characters should I prepare?”, you might be asking. I suggest at least sketching out the main character, the main antagonist (that might be a villain, or someone else standing in your main character’s way), and three side characters. You can pull these out in at any point (bonus points if they highlight the genre or tone of your project!). Of course, the more characters you have, the less time you’ll have to spend with this during NaNoWriMo. But be careful — don’t feel you have to stuff these characters into your novel if it doesn’t feel right. What you’re creating is options, not restrictions.
Tip 3: Plot… or prepare to pants it in style!
This tip goes a bit differently, depending on whether you’re a plotter or a pantser! A plotter (sometimes called “architect”) is someone who likes to plot out their story ahead of time. Meanwhile, a pantser (often called “discovery writer”) prefers to free-write, without necessarily knowing where their story is going.
Preptober plotting as a Plotter (in brief)
If you’re a plotter, you know the value of having a great plan, however much you stick to it. So, now’s probably a great time to start sketching one out! If you don’t know how to go about it, start small! A brainstorm is a great way to start, and this will probably give you a good idea of what the premise of the story should be. That is, the core idea or theme you want to write about!
Then, think about the central conflict you want to have. The good vs. evil conflict is a very typical one —and it’s probably a good idea if you don’t have much experience as a writer. But if you want a conflict that feels a bit more complex, here’s our 5 plot points for creating conflict. And it has a video too!
Then, choose a structure, such as the three-act structure or the hero’s journey. And then it’s time to put everything together! Use your premise, conflict, and structure to create an outline. This outline can be as detailed as you want —it all depends on your own creative process!
Preptober plot preparation for Pansters (in brief)
But if you’re a pantser (i.e. someone who discovery writes, rather than plotting out the story in advance) the idea of plotting might fill you with cold sweat! NaNoWriMo recommends this amazing method to help you prepare without plotting!
Since you already have your characters and a bit about your setting, start with ideas for scenes: these might be places in your setting you want to showcase, or cool character moments you can imagine taking place in your story. Putting each of these onto a flashcard (if you prefer paper) or into a scene segment in a novel writing software like Manuscripts, is a great way to see them all at a glance. Remember, these are just juicy ideas —they don’t have to be in order right now.
So, that’s not too hard, right? Once you have these created, read over them. You’ll start to get a sense of the book you’re going to write, without being pinned down to a plot. If you want to take this further, you can divide them into the beginning, middle, or end sections. Or you can just reserve these moments for when you get stuck during NaNoWriMo, as something you can write towards!
Tip 4: Get yourself into a daily writing habit (and plan for the long haul)
A big part of a successful NaNoWriMo is actually writing consistently —those words aren’t gonna write themselves! If you don’t have a daily writing habit (or a least a regular one!), now’s a good moment to start one. Look at your calendar and plan when you’re going to write. This is very helpful, especially if you have a full schedule!
Also remember that NaNoWriMo is a marathon, not a sprint! If you’re not used to writing thousands of words every day, don’t start suddenly or you might burn out. Instead, try to aim for an average of 1,667 words per day and you’ll get to 50,000 by the end of the month! Dividing up a big goal into smaller chunks will help you in the long run.
Tip 5: Connect with other writers and enjoy the NaNoWriMo camaraderie
Part of the fun is connecting with people online —and winning NaNo is so much easier if you have a community to share your progress with! Our amazing Discord community has a NaNoWriMo channel, which you can join to find a ton of other people taking part in NaNoWriMo! Some of them stream their work, which can be great as motivation, and there are writing sprints being organized all the time. You’ll probably find someone willing to help you if you’re stuck or to give you encouragement when you’re having a bad day.
Create a free World Anvil account to get started with your Preptober! And let us know your top Preptober tips in the comments!