The caffeinated hordes: 2013 NaNoWriMo prep

It’s that time of year again: the lead-up to NaNoWriMo! Writers everywhere are debating “should I or shouldn’t I?”, scrambling to create outlines, hoarding chocolate and caffeine, and generally freaking out about the upcoming month-long celebration of novel writing and general authorial mayhem.


As a past NaNoWriMo participant and winner, I’m drawn into the madness every year. I feel that tingling sensation, contemplating a brand new project, and I feel giddy thinking about upcoming word sprints and that special cameraderie that comes with the month of November.

I love NaNoWriMo. Even when I’m not officially participating, I feel more inspired to work on my creative projects, knowing there are thousands of other novelists and would-be novelists out there, toiling away on their masterpieces. There’s an energy about the month that makes writers feel somehow completely normal locking themselves in a room with nothing but a computer, coffeemaker, and plenty of lyric-free music. For those who enjoy writing in public spaces, it seems like every café is alive with the hum of NaNoWriMo groups taking the “Sit Down, Shut Up and Write” philosophy seriously, or chatting about their WIP’s latest pitfalls and how to resolve them.

It’s a great time of year, whether you’re working on a novel or have sworn off the “1,666 words a day or bust” motto for good. So, while at first I wasn’t planning on participating in 2013, I’ve ultimately changed my mind. In the spirit of exploration and trying new things, I’ve decided to go for it with an idea for a zany detective novel I’ve been pondering for a while.

To prepare, I’ll be spending the rest of October:

  • Researching the art of the detective novel, and how to properly plot a murder mystery
  • Reading as many detective stories as I can, including classics from Edgar Allen Poe, Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Raymond Chandler (and maybe even Wilkie Collins, if I have time), plus modern cozy sleuthing from writers like Karen E. Olson and Elaine Viets
  • Creating some Pinterest boards for my characters, as well as a general swipe file of ideas I want to include
  • Pondering the big questions, like “Can characters be TOO kooky?” and “Can a murder mystery be both cozy AND vicious?”
  • Plotting an outline, using my completely non-patented technique
  • Revisiting Chunk Wendig’s excellent “Welcome to NaNoWriMo Prep School, Word Nerds” for additional prep ideas and advice

And, of course, stocking up on plenty of chocolate and caffeine!

What’s your game plan for NaNoWriMo 2013 prep?