Preptober 2020–how do you go about it?

The month of November is fast approaching, and writers, you know what that means: Nanowrimo.
If you are new to this and don’t recognize the abbreviation “Nanowrimo” worry not! I have some pearls of wisdom to pass along.

So, you’ve decided you want to dive into the madness of National Novel Writing Month—lovingly called Nanowrimo by the faithful. That is, the month of November, when writers from all over buckle down and write 50,000 words in a month. How in the world do you do it? By setting up your story in Preptober.

Preptober 2020 post, pic: Never stop dreaming by Marta Kulesza, via Pixabay

Image by Marta Kulesza from Pixabay

So Preptober, is… What it sounds like:  taking the month of October to prep your novel. Hence, Preptober.

Okay, you know what preptober is, and you want to write something in November, but what?


Now that it’s October, decide now, which story idea (if you have a few bugging you) you’re most drawn to. If it’s a fantasy novel, take the remainder of October to plan out your story—if you are a planner. If you are a pantser, I’d still encourage you to come up with some sort of plan for what you want to write towards. Where do you want your characters to start, what are their ultimate goals, and where do you want the story to end. In total, I’ve participated in Nanowrimo—and the summer version called Camp Wrimo—more than nine times.

Anyway, I can say this from experience: Knowing now the bare bones of what you’ll be writing, will help when the calendar turns over to November. You don’t want to waste your time banging your head against a wall when you could be putting 1667 words per day down.

Things you might want beforehand:

A notebook for your notes, your favorite pens, pencils, and (if you wish) highlighters, your favorite writing computer.

(I might actually suggest writing this in a computer file, if you have bad handwriting—and you can easily revise a Word doc.)

Things you might want to know about the story beforehand:

What genre do you plan to write?

What conflict do you think your characters might face?

What’s your world like? (Real world? Fantasy world?)

If it’s the real world, what’s your time period? This is important to know, because of the changes our world has gone through. For instance, you don’t want your heroine riding a subway in 1860 or eating potatoes in 10th century Ireland. (Trust me on this one!)

If it’s a fantasy world, what’s the climate like, the weather?

This might be important to research first. Say, your world is arctic, what’s that really like? How long can someone survive outside in that weather? You want have at least a rough idea while writing.

The languages?

What about music or entertainment?

What about special foods?

The technology, including the modes of travel. How long does it take to get from point A to point B? How fast do you want them to get from point A to point B? Having some idea of this may keep you from having to stop and do some research. 🙂

If you’re writing a story set in our real world, who were the leaders of your chosen country, at the time? Write his (or her) name down—and their dates. You never, you might decide, spur of the moment, to mention them, and you don’t want to be talking about a leader who wasn’t in office at your chosen date.  Same thing with technology. You wouldn’t want your main character flying on TWA if TWA is out of business at the date you’re writing. 🙂

 If you’re writing in the contemporary world, what else might you need to research to get the story on the page? For instance, if your hero is a doctor, but you don’t know the first thing about the medical field, you might want to look up and make these notes now.

If you’re writing the follow up to an already-finished novel, make notes from that previous work, or print them out, or set them into a folder that can stand out to you on your desktop. Anything so that said-notes stand out to you.

You can stop and research this as you write, but hey, research time takes away from writing the actual story. So do it now, I say.

If you’d like this as a checklist, I have a free download of the entire “guide”. If you’d like it, click here.

2 thoughts on “Preptober 2020–how do you go about it?

  1. Hi, Josie, I confess, there have been some years where I waited until the absolute last minute to make my decision too. If you do jump in, I wish you all the best with your project and hope my little guide can help you out! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  2. Still in two minds about whether I should jump on with NaNoWriMo this year…writing my outline right now…so could make the leap… thanks for a really helpful post about Preptober!

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