Writer’s Corner: Winning Nanowrimo

By Rebecca Lang

Note: This is a condensed version of my talk. For a full version and explanation. see my four-part blog on Winning Nanowrimo. I’ll be posting every weekend in September, starting today.

Winning Nanowrimo: The Challenge

What is Nanowrimo?

  • National Novel Writing Month
  • One novel/ 50,000 words (200 pages) in November

Nano calanderHow It Works

  • Make a commitment
  • Let go of quality, focus on quantity
  • No going back and re-writing/ editing
  • Discipline, focus, and endurance

Office Worker with Mountain of Paperwork

Set a Goal

  • Doesn’t have to be a novel
  • Doesn’t have to be 50,000 words
  • Stretch yourself, don’t stress yourself

set and reach goal concept

Think of a Reward

  • Tangible: Not “the satisfaction of writing a novel.”
  • Motivator during tough times
  • Achievement or effort?
  • Multiple rewards? Daily? Weekly? Milestones?
  • You need to celebrate


Make a Plan

  • Where and when do you best write?
  • Can you adapt if conditions aren’t ideal?
  • How efficient are you at writing?
  • How can you fit writing into your schedule?
  • What sacrifices will you need to make?

timerCreate an Outline

  • Brainstorm ideas for novel
  • Organize ideas into a logical sequence
  • Doesn’t have to be permanent: go off script
  • Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

contents 2Crunchtober

  • “October is crunch time.”
  • Practice: 500 words a day in October
  • I use it for brainstorming/ outlining

37310-Dear-OctoberGather Support

  • Affirmation, Accountability, Mentorship, Company, Competition, Free Time
  • Nanowrimo.org: Word Tracker, Pep Talks, Find Local Writers, Prizes

writer groupMy Group

  • Meet twice in October in order to goal-set and brainstorm.
  • Meet at least four times in November to check in and write together.
  • Send out inspirational emails every day.
  • Celebrate together at the end of the month.

Your-heartInterested? If so, email me at reddragonfly1285@yahoo.com by October 31, 2015.


What’s your story about?

List at least ten key events that happen throughout the story

Event #1: Inciting Incident

Event #2

Event #3

Event #4: Reversal

Event #5

Event #6

Event #7: Reversal

Event #8

Event #9: Climax

Event #10: Resolution

How do these events connect to each other?

Problems or Questions:


Ask your main characters the following questions:

What do they look like? (Age, gender, important physical qualities)

Who/ what do they love/ hate? (Stakes)

What do they desire? (Motivation)

What do they fear? (Obstacle)

What do they believe in? (Theme)

What is their background/ history? (Depth)

What is their greatest secret? (Surprise)

Don’t forget to come up with an antagonist.


Decide on the General Setting.

Physical Landscape

  • city, suburb, or country?
  • land and water
  • nature: plants and animals
  • buildings and man-made environments

Era/ Culture

  • clothes: how does it express their culture?
  • objects: what things are commonly used?
  • technology, politics, religion

Time Frame

  • how long does the story take place: days? months? years?
  • any noticeable time gaps?

Seasons/ Weather

  • clothes: how does it protect them from the elements?
  • holidays
  • dangers

Try to come up with 3 Specific Places

Room, house, café, train, fort, spaceship, forest, etc.

What objects do you see? How might the hero use them?

How might this setting help advance the plot?

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