I hate to admit it, but NaNoWrMo is different than the normal, reasonable experience of writing a novel.
Time is of the essence. Normally this could easily compromise one of the core competencies (of the six, in case you’re new here) that will, at some point, need to be sparkling and compelling in your story.
Here’s a little trick to cut a ton of time out the process and get it right from square one. Which, in context to NaNoWrMo, is like bailing water out of a life raft with a bucket instead of a spoon.
The Toughest Core Competency
For me it’s character. Even when you plan your hero down to the fingernails, the persona, the effect of the backstory and the general nature and energy of the character doesn’t fully emerge until you bring him/her alive in your pages.
… the hero is you.
If you allow yourself to star in your NaNoWrMo story — I highly advise changing the name — you’ll find yourself knowing more about your hero than you ever will otherwise. Literally put yourself into the skin of your hero and vicariously experience — and then translate into words — the journey you’ve created.
Of course, if you don’t see yourself as a hero, this is your chance to add what’s missing and fix what’s broken. And you should… by virtue of nailing the character’s arc. At least you’ll have a first hand understanding of the starting point of that arc… because he/she is you.
You will also bring a gritty, realistic emotional resonance to the character, because he/she will feel and response as you would in that situation.
Which can be a lot of fun on paper. Go ahead, live your fantasy.
Which is a preview of a forthcoming tip, by the way.
All of these tips need to be assimilated in context to each other.
Today’s tip, for example, won’t really come alive until you’ve created a compelling concept and have crafted a vision for the journey, the antagonist and the outcome. But once those in place (which they will be as we move down this October planning path), casting yourself in the lead will cut, if not a lot of time, then certainly a lot of time-consuming guesswork from the critical element of character in your story.
Live the dream. In this case, literally.