HELP, I’m Terrified!!

How The Heck Do I Write a Novel in 30 Days???


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Have you been wondering this?  Have you written before, but not at such a breakneck speed?  Have you never written a novel in your life?  Are you only doing this on a dare?  Fear not!  We have compiled an excellent list of tips and tricks that should get you on your way!

There are about as many ways to write a novel as there are novelists, but for NaNo, there are really only two ways to go: plan your novel out before the first of the month, or write by the seat of your pants.  We call these two types of WriMos ‘planners’ and ‘pantsers’.

Whichever way you choose to go is up to you, but here’s a bit of information to get you started.  There will be some more information to follow in the weeks to come, but this should get those wheels turning!



There are many different ways to plan a novel.  I’ve listed a few below, but think about how you may have approached other large projects in your life (school reports, work projects, organizing a party, etc.) and see if you can find something similar that will work for you.


The most basic way of organizing anything is an outline.  This may be as simple as a few key plot points, or as detailed as a scene-by-scene synopsis.  Remember that you can always start simple and add detail as things become clearer to you.


A sequential list of things that happen in your novel that is, cleverly enough, based on the timeline.


A more fluid method of organizing where each idea or scene is listed on a card which can then be shuffled around at will until things start to make sense.

Mind Mapping

A very fluid method where similar ideas are grouped in a free and flowing basis.  This is probably best at the very start.

Character Sheets

Any good RPG or writing website will give you a sample character sheet that you can fill out.  These are often excellent for getting to know your characters better, as good characters make a good novel!

Snowflake Method

Listed last, but certainly not least, this is a method I’ve recently discovered that was developed by Randy Ingermanson where you start with a simple idea and gradually grow it until it’s quite detailed.



Many people think that pantsers are just making their story up as they go along: this is only partially true.  In reality, most pantsers have done much of their planning subconsciously, and allow the characters and events to dictate exactly how the story progresses.

There are a few key things you might want to decide on before you start, though:


The best and most memorable thing about a good story is a great character.  As a pantser, it’s essential to have a unique, memorable, and lovable character, as it is him or her that will largely be dictating how your story will progress.  Get to know them, buy them a coffee, take them out for dinner.  I promise, it will be worth it.


Your story has to happen somewhere, even if that somewhere is a small room, with no doors and no windows and white walls.  Where is that?  What does it feel like?  Sound like?  Smell like?  Taste like?  How do people talk?  Get your reader into the heart of your scene and let it help build your characters.


Now, don’t panic, you don’t have to have it all sorted out now!  But it might be wise to at least have a genera idea of how things are going to start, lest you be totally lost on November 1!



 That’s okay.  Seriously.  You have lots of time left.  Here’s a few websites to check out that might give you some inspiration!  (Disclaimer: we do not personally or professionally endorse any of these sites, nor do we have any affiliation with their creators):


Good luck!


  1. I just received an email from you guys, and finally, reality has sunk in: I have decided to write a novel. In one month.
    I have never written a novel. Or even thought about attempting one.
    I’m terrified. (You can likely feel my nervous tremor from here.)
    I am also very grateful that this blog post has information in it to set me well on my way. I’m a planner. I now have characters, timelines, and some random notes jotted down for when I get stuck (apparently one of my characters is going to get paralyzingly addicted to sudoku puzzles).
    This blog post has been great for easing my anxiety…
    …but also terrible for my arachnophobia.

    1. Hi Miirii!

      I know, writing a novel in any length of time (let alone in one month) can be daunting. But fear nothing (except maybe spiders…) we, your fearless local Wrimos, are here to back you up. I’m really glad that you were able to find this information helpful, and there will be more as October continues, all to get you ready for November! The insanity begins in one month!

      I hope you can make it out to some of our events, they’re amazing for boosting your enthusiasm and wordcount. Oh, and there are sometimes cupcakes.


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