CHATTER: NaNo NaNoWriMo – Story Plans

Hey folks! Today (November 17th) marks what I’d consider to be the first day you should actually start planning for NaNo NaNoWriMo, our upcoming writing jam!

It’s a week until Thanksgiving, two weeks until the start of NaNo, and the weather in my area has been getting horribly grey. Here’s some stuff you should probably already be thinking about.

Word Count

How many words are you willing to write for this? NaNo NaNo shoots at around 333 words a day for a 10,000 word story, the average length of your typical short story.

If you’re a writing veteran you might find this a snoozefest, but the upper limit is 1,000 words a day for a 30,000 word story – the upper cap of what’s reasonably called a “short” story. (I’ll also acknowledge that some people call this length a novella. You can call it whatever you want.)

On the flipside, there’s no lower limit here. You can write 10 words a day if you’re just not feeling up for making a big production out of this. The point of NaNo NaNo is that you can set your own pace and your own goals, but you have a community to fall back on if you start having trouble.

If you’ve written full stories before, you should examine the word count of those, along with how long it took to complete and how much discomfort you experienced – it’ll give you a more realistic idea of what you’ll be ready for. This jam is a good opportunity to flex your writing muscles, but the goal is still meant to be easy.

Plot

So. Do you have a plotline in mind yet?

It’s okay if you don’t. You have 2 weeks (14 days) to figure this out. But it’s also a really good time to start thinking about it, because once you start writing, it’s gonna start dragging you down fast.

My biggest piece of advice is to pick a setting with characters that you’ve already used, and write a new story for them. Writing a cast of all-new characters and new locations is going to take up your brain capacity and probably cause early burnout.

Software

What software do you use to write? If you haven’t written in a while, this is a good opportunity to dust off your programs and make sure that your hotkeys are comfortable.

Likewise, you should consider switching to free and open-source software where applicable. These programs often have more functionality that you might need.

Here’s some stuff I can recommend.

  • LibreOffice – Community-updated fork of OpenOffice; alternative to Microsoft Word. I’d recommend doing all of your final editing here.
  • Notepad++ – Alternative to Notepad. For some reason I always used Notepad so I do 99% of my writing in this. User interface is an accessibility disaster, but it has tabs!
  • draw.io – Flowcharts! Handy if you’re planning a Twine or CYOA. Works in your browser or standalone.
  • Twine – Well, I mean, natch, if you’re writing an interactive story or just want a way to bundle it in a flashy HTML file.

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