Fast Novel 101 (part one)

This year, I've followed my own advice and decided to take RAD away from posts about anything and into a series style. So from now on, every month we'll be focusing on one specific topic—and this month, it's novel writing. But not just any novel writing. 

How to write a novel, fast (NaNoWriMo style)

I'll be the first to tell you that NaNoWriMo isn't for everyone. In fact, I think it isn't for most writers. Most of us honestly can't get out a full-length novel in a month. But there's a reason for that. That's what we're going to explore this month, because I think every author is capable of writing a novel in a month, but that there's something holding them back, keeping them from getting it done, that makes it so most of us simply aren't up to the challenge. Let's unpack that a bit, one piece at a time. 

 

The first thing you need to do is something I hate doing, and something you should do before your novel writing month ever begins. 

Outline

If you don't outline, trying to write a whole novel in a month is downright complicated. Some days, you need a little prompt to remind you where you're going and what you're doing. That's all I'm asking for here. Write a basic idea of what you want your story to be, so when you sit down to write it, you won't have a brain fart and decide it's better to do nothing at all. That's the opposite of productive, you know. 

But now that you have an idea of what you want to write, now that you have your basic outline in place, you can use that to build into something you can use for your novel writing month. 

Take that outline and break it down. Figure out approximately how long you want each section of the book to be. They don't have to be even, but they don't have to be uneven either. They can be whatever you want them to be. Section it off, break it down into easy-to-swallow chunks. 

And now that you have that down, go ahead and practice. 

Now, I don't mean start writing your book. Remember, your novel writing month hasn't started yet. No, what I want you to do is practice writing more words in a day. Start taking one day a week and upping your word count. Then the next week, maybe take two days. Start to up the number of words you write in a single session. Get to where you're fully capable of writing the number of words you need to write in a day, in a day. 

You can't do that without practice. 

And I think this is the primary basis for why so many people fail to write a novel so quickly. They sit down to do it, but they didn't put in any time at the beginning to figure out how they were going to do it. They didn't run their warmup exercises. They tried to run the marathon without ever having run a block. 

Don't be that guy. 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, Etc.