Picking an idea for NaNoWriMo that will carry you through

In order to write 50,000 words in 30 days, you certainly need discipline and determination. A plan is nice too, but without passion and inspiration, there will be little joy in the challenge. Without joy, it’s very possible you will not be able to manufacture the motivation to see it through to the end.

There is lots of information out there about how to make your goal during NaNoWriMo. Keep to a schedule. Write a certain amount every day. Outline. Network. Just Do it! It’s all good advice, but in my humble opinion, the heart of the matter is the premise you decide to run with in the first place and picking one that can see you through to the end.

So what to look for in a story idea? Epic Themes? Heartwrenching love stories? Complex, flawed and dynamic characters? All these things are great in a story but in a story that needs to be completed in 30 days your winning premise should be three things.

Compelling to You.

Structurally Simple at Conception

Fully Formed

In order to create something that will keep you motivated to put in the work it needs to be finished in 30 days, it needs to have you excited. Since you are your own boss here, it’s up to you to push yourself to the end. So don’t pick a premise you think it marketable. Don’t pick something you think is easy. Find an idea that reallly gets under your skin, something you can’t wait to explore. Passion is the best motivator.

50k words is a short novel. 30 days is a short amount of time. When faced with a deadline like this you want to go back to the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid). So, introduce main characters and set up the plot. Introduce the conflict. Throw a few crises in, climax that thing and bring it down again. Forgo the subplots, underlying themes, extensive backstories and complex world building for now. At it’s conception, to get it done, keep the structure simple. Later you can add all the depth and detail you want, and your novel will be better for it because instead of loping off a bunch of useless info you wrote when you weren’t sure where everything was going, you are intentionally enriching the story you know intimately.

Now lastly, the idea you go with should be formed in your brain. Whether you outline or not, you should have a clear idea about who the characters are, what the problem is, how it will escalate and how it will be resolved. At the very least, have your ending in mind. I cannot tell you how many awesome ideas I have just languishing because I don’t know how the story will end. They meander along, introducing this issue and that and never actually go anywhere near completion. Thats okay if you have years to figure it out, but if you want to complete the NaNoWriMo Challenge you need to know the end when you start and have a pretty good idea how you will get there. With the ending in sight you can drive full speed ahead toward it.

So, that is my little bit of Monday advice for you. Remember, the point is to get a first draft, not a perfect draft. Let yourself write what inspires you and best of luck with NaNoWriMo!


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