How to write a novel in 30 days!
Written By: Aniesha Brahma
When I was six years old I was convinced the only thing I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a writer. And as I grew up, I tried and failed to finish whatever writing project I started. In my late teens I realized the importance of being disciplined no matter what job you decide to pursue. And even though I learned to be disciplined I never tapped into the art of finishing a novel. In 2009 I stumbled across someone’s post which said they were taking part in NaNoWriMo. Curious about what that could possibly mean, I looked it up.
NaNoWriMo is the short form for National Novel Writing Month which was launched way back in 1999. (People from all over the world take part in this – the creators felt that NaNoWriMo rolls off the tongue better than InNoWriMo would and did not rename it to International Novel Writing Month.)
It is a creative writing project where writers from all over the world pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days in the month of November. Even though this system of writing has been criticized the creators of NaNoWriMo have always maintained that it is easier to edit a terrible first draft than it is to edit a blank document. They are not wrong. For more information, you can go here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/
If you sign up with NaNoWriMo you will have your own account with them, be sent pep talks over the course of the whole month of November (and sometimes even throughout the year), and you will have to write a minimum of 1,667 words every day beginning from the 1st of November till the 30th of November to complete your NaNoWriMo challenge. The site has a word count determining machine, so once you are done with your day’s work – you can upload the entire document there and it will update your word count automatically. This method works for those of us who are inherently lazy and need a push to get things done. Seeing the word count slowly increase from 0 to even 15,000 makes you want to keep writing your novel.
In case you have decided to give NaNoWriMo 2015 a try, the following hacks might help you enjoy writing your novel and be a part of the madness that is NaNoWriMo.
#Hack 1 – The Plot Rollercoaster: NaNoWriMo allows you to plan your novel months in advance just as long as you don’t begin writing the chapters down. Be clear of the genre you want to write in, think the whole story through. Even though some writers claim they like to be surprised by what their characters might do, as a first time writer it is better to be the one calling all the shots for your characters. The basic rule of any story is order-disorder-reorder. Writers have played with the timeline, with points of view among other new techniques. Decide on your timeline, plan the events and write them down chronologically. It does not matter how you choose to depict the events in your novel, as long as you are sure about the chronology in your head. First time writers often fall victim to plot holes for the sole reason that they did not think things through. So make sure you have definitive beginning, middle and an ending that ties all of your loose ends together. In novel speak this would be: the introduction, the rising action, the climax, the falling action and the resolution.
#Hack 2 – The Characters & Interlinks: In the novel’s world you have to introduce most of your characters in first half of the story – especially if they play key roles. You cannot randomly conjure a character out of thin air just because it would be convenient for them to save the day. If you want a particular character to save the day make sure you’ve introduced him/her in advance. Writers have suggested knowing every little detail of each of your characters. Minor things like what they carry in their purse might not even make it to the novel, but it will help you create a three dimensional and believable character. Another suggestion is to write down all their names and make the links of who is related to whom, and which character knows which character etc. This is called a character map and comes in handy when you are writing down scenes, and do not have the time to go through all of your notes. If also saves you from writing yourself into plot holes.
#Hack 3 – The Time: We have friends to meet, places to go, books to read, movies to watch and TV shows to catch up on. Yes, we all have jobs and we all have several commitments. Well – writing is a commitment too. Set aside a time when you can just get into your most comfortable clothes, shut yourself out from the social media, switch off your phone and begin writing. It would be a good idea to switch off your Internet at this point – because we delude ourselves into thinking we are researching for our story, when in reality we are perhaps wasting time watching cat videos on YouTube.
#Hack 4 – Research Beforehand: In case your novel needs you be very accurate with your facts, get your research done well in advance of writing your novel. Nothing breaks the flow of writing that trying to look up the symptoms for bipolar disorder or the identifying marks of a rare species of birds. I use Evernote (https://evernote.com/?var=2) to store everything I would be needing for my novels in the different notebooks. It really is a really handy app. It is like your own personal pen drive that you access from anywhere in the world.
If you can plan and research your novel before you begin writing and concentrate only on getting the words down once you start your novel – I can guarantee you will have a complete novel by the end of 30 days. Discipline and following a strict schedule are sure to put you on the way to finally have your first complete draft! Isn’t the very thought of it exciting?
I am going to participate in NaNoWriMo’15. Will you be joining me?
Author’s Bio: Aniesha Brahma is the author of The Secret Proposal and The Guitar Girl, and a contributing author of the anthology Voices Old & New. She holds a MPhil degree in Comparative Literature and has recently started out as a freelance writer. You can find her regular write ups on her blog: www.anieshabrahma.com. If you would like to check out her books, you can check the following links:
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