NaNoWriMo Checklist

nanowrimoHey all! We are SO close to NaNoWriMo now!  I can’t wait, I’m SO excited for the month.  I just have a few things to finish up before the month starts, so I could that as a win on my part.

Other writerly things are going well too.  Never is coming along nicely, though I have some emotionally taxing scenes to write coming up.  I’m not dreading them, but the main character of this novel is very near and dear to my heart so it could be difficult to put her through some of this trauma.

I mean, I’d never write trauma to my characters.  That’s just mean.

And I’m happy to be getting more blogs done again.  I have a vlog planned in the future as well! I’m less comfortable with my vlogging because I’m not always a huge fan of my face and I don’t like how my voice sounds  when it’s recorded.  But I have one planned.

Reminder to everyone! I have a contest going on!  If you leave reviews on Amazon, you’ll be entered to win hard copies of my books! SIGNED ones!  Here are the details.

Things to Remember BEFORE NaNoWriMo Starts

I’m not going to tell you how to plan your month because I’m still figuring out what works best for me.  But there are things we should remember before diving into 30 days of literary abandon. 

These are the kind of things I wished people had told me before diving head first into NaNoWriMo when I first tried in 2010.  I suppose you could take these with a grain of salt, because I’ve never ‘won’ NaNoWriMo.  But I do preparation for it every year.  Usually what gets me is burn-out or the case for the past two years emotional trauma and a severely sprained back!

Get to Know Your Characters. All of Them.

This seems really self-explanatory, right?  You should always know your characters before you start some writing.  At least vaguely.  But since I’ve made the mistake before, I’m sure others have too.  Two years ago, I forgot to write out the details for my villain BEFORE the month started.  Fast forward to the second week and I’m finally writing the villain’s first appearance in the novel and I don’t have ANYTHING about him.


So I had to scramble mid-month to try and scrape together a concept for a villain.  It turned out alright, Jericho is one of my favorite characters from that novel.  But that’s beside the point – it took away time from the mad rush of puking novel into a word document

This year  I have a bunch of characters planned out.  Including the villain(s).

At least I learn from my mistakes?

World Building/Research

Basically the same thing as above.  This seems like it would be a basic step in planning your novel.   Know the world in which your novel is going to take place.  I’m lumping research in here too because that’s really time consuming as well.   Is it on Earth?  Is it in the same era as we are?  Is it in the past?  Think about that and remember that if its in the past or in a different country, that research has to happen.

Last year I wound up doing some neat research on Jazz Age America.

The year before I was researching gun laws!

Sometimes I wind up spending more time with learning about my characters (because that’s where my stories start) that I forget to be as meticulous as I should be with my world building.  I mean, you can just think of world stuff on the fly, but I have trouble making those quick decisions.  Especially if they might wind up impacting the novel a lot more than anticipated.

So build that world up.  Know where you are, know the rules, figure out the little nitty-gritty details that might not matter.


In the past, I’ve been pretty anti-outline.  In recent novels, I’ve been switching toward outlines.  I always outline for my next draft of a novel.  ALWAYS.  But I’ve started outlining for first novels too.  For the current one I’m working on, Never, I needed the structure.  I had a ton of ideas of how I wanted the novel to go, but when I would sit down to write, I’d just stare at the screen.  It was really frustrating.  So I started outlining the novel and it’s been REALLY great.

I don’t mean outlining every single little bit of plot.

I mean a vague idea of what’s supposed to happen in each chapter.  It doesn’t need to be detailed.  Just the big things.  It also helps keep track of multiple points of view!

It also helps for first time novel writers/NaNoers.  As Rene Mullen said to me on twitter, “If you haven’t done NaNoWriMo before, I’d recommend it. I’m not a planner, but 1700 words a day’s tough w/out one.”

That’s All I’ve Got.

But just remember to HAVE FUN with all of this!  It’s a great experience no matter what.  I’ve loved everything I’ve brought away from NaNoWriMo.

For those interested, here’s my author page.  We could be writing buddies!

Who all is doing NaNoWriMo?  What do you have planned?

~LL Lemke



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