A Novel in 30 Days Workshop

I've been thinking about my offering for the upcoming NaNo this year and it hit me: what better way to get everyone into the spirit of writing than sharing my MUSE workshop?

In case you've missed it or didn't register for the Muse Writer's Conference, I was one of the many authors who hosted writing workshops during the week long conference. Mine was originally posted on October 11.

For the next few days, I will be posting each part of my workshop for all of you to enjoy. You are welcome to participate and ask questions.

So, without further ado, here's the first part of the workshop.

Part 1: Get the Preliminaries Out of the Way

Let’s start this workshop by setting some goals.

My personal goals for this workshop are:

  1. To help writers by imparting some of the techniques I employ during the writing process.
  2. To help writers see it is possible to write a novel in 30 days.
  3. To give quick tips that can be implemented while writing.

Now, it’s your turn to set some goals:

What do you want to achieve after this workshop?

Here are some examples:

Short Term Goal: Prepare to write a novel in 30 days.

Mid Term Goal: Write a chapter a day.

Long Term Goal: Complete a novel in 30 days

Like in any endeavor, setting goals can help focus and center you. If we’re going to tap into the discipline it takes to write a chapter a day, we need to be clear on what we are doing and what we want to achieve.

Every time we start something, we must prepare. Marathon runners train their bodies for the distance. Before we can paint a wall, we must prime it first. Before we play a piece on the piano, stretching our fingers by playing scales helps. Whatever analogy you’d like to use, the main point here is to be prepared.

Remember: The aim is to have a complete novel by the end of the month.

Suggestion: Create a new folder on your computer for your 30 Day Novel. This way everything you do for the writing process goes to one place. You can name the folder New WIP or 30 Day Novel or if you already have a title for your novel, by all means use it. Being organized will help you focus on the writing process.

Alright! Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way.

First: Know what your novel is.

Example: I want to write a Young Adult paranormal romance involving werewolves.

Knowing the category and genre of your novel gives you a step forward in achieving your goal. Let’s take our example. Because I mentioned YA, my main characters are automatically teenagers. And since I want to write a paranormal romance, it means at some point in the story, my characters will fall in love. Lastly, one or all of my characters will be a werewolf.

Quick tip: Don’t start your writing process without a clear idea of what your novel is because you might run out of steam halfway through, and we don’t want that to happen.

Take note I said “what your novel is” and not “what your novel is about.” There’s a very big difference. The best thing about writing a novel in thirty days, you don’t have to know what your story will be about. The most you need to know is what the chapter will be on the day you’re writing it. So, no pressure.

Relax into the process.

Remember: You love telling stories.

Second: Create Character Profiles

Don’t panic! This part isn’t as complicated as what you might think. These profile bullet points helps you to focus on the writing process instead of the little details (these can be fleshed out during the editing process).


Main Female Character: Natalia Andrews
·         16-years-old
·         Blue eyes
·         Brown hair
·         5’5” and curvy
·         Loves sneakers
·         Fiercely independent

Main Male Character: Brandon Silvermoon
  • 17-years-old
  • Silver eyes
  • Black hair
  • 6’3”
  • Muscular and handsome
  • A werewolf
  • Brooding

As you can see from my examples, I’m keeping the character descriptions as basic as possible. The purpose of this is just so I don’t start with a character with brown hair and end with the same character as a blonde unless my character changes her hair color during the course of the story. The profiles are for keeping the details straight so you don’t need to worry about them and just write, write, and write.

The profiles aren’t limited to your main characters. Make profiles for your secondary characters too. They need just as much attention from you. Also, you can save the document containing your profiles in the folder you’ve created for your 30 Day Novel. If you’re as OC as I am, you can even create a folder within the folder just for your profiles so they are easier to find once your writing process gets started. Sometimes, before I sit down to write my chapter for the day, I would go through the profiles just so I can see who is who.

Third: Do your research.

This is the part of the preliminaries that can be skipped if you feel you don’t need to conduct any research for your novel. I don’t really advocate research on the onset of the writing process because too much information can influence your creativity. Keeping your writing as pure as possible is much better because research for the purpose of verisimilitude can be done during editing.

But there are cases when conducting some research does help.

Example: Setting

I want to set my werewolf novel in Las Vegas. I would conduct a Google search of Las Vegas. Wikipedia is a big help in this case. This allows me to get the lay of the land. What is the weather like? What is the atmosphere like?

If you want to create your own world for your novel, then go right ahead. I’m a big advocate of stretching your creativity to as far as it will go and going further.

Remember: Limitations are the ones you set for yourself.

Once you’re done getting the preliminaries out of the way, you can start writing your novel. Keep in mind that you need to start at the first of the month. Not before and certainly not after. Why are we doing this? Because we’re trying to build discipline. Starting something new at the first of the month helps you begin the right mindset of sitting down and writing every day for the rest of that month. I’ll get into this more in Part 2.

For now, if you have any questions involving Part 1 of the workshop, please feel free to ask them in the comments section and I’ll answer them right away. 

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful tips! I look forward to the next part of your workshop.


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