nano prep


Finally outlined this year’s nano. Tentative title is Running Tangents or may be Run the Line which gives me one extra word. In geometry, a tangent is a straight line that touches a point on a curve or a circle, but does not cross it. In races, a tangent is the line that touches the inside of a curve and is the shortest distance around that curve; in big races it’s marked by an actual physical line on the road. But in life, it’s almost never possible to take the shortest or easiest route. This story is centred on two MCs who were forced into each other’s lives when one ran over the other in a car accident. A radical punishment by the judge pushes them into constant contact. It’s about redemption but is also about forgiveness too.

I’m not sure I’ve fleshed it out sufficiently to carry through to 50k; I need more side characters and events other than physiotherapy, training and races. Anyway, there are tried and tested nano tricks and I trolled the dares thread:

  • one of your characters is really protective about their hair and is deeply offended / outraged at anyone mocking it
    BP: They have a really weird / unusual hair style (e.g. Extremely long hair, Pompadour, has thousands of curls [Even the curls have curls!], has a gigantic bow tied in it, Is very spiky, etc)
  • have your characters visit a train station (Either travelling somewhere or for other reasons.). Describe the train station in detail and some of the random travellers that pass by.
  • your group of characters now have a team pet / mascot
  • the next chapter you write is completely filler. It cannot advance the plot in any shape or form
    BP: the Filler Chapter is never referenced again within your novel
    DBP: if a minor character was introduced in said Filler Chapter, when / if they show up later in the novel, no one knows who they are and threaten to call the police if they don’t leave them alone!
  • your characters have gotten lost. Start the next chapter you write, in a completely new and unrelated location from the end of the previous one
  • reference every previous nano story you’ve written
    BP: work the verbatim titles of every previous nano into your story in a logical, coherent way
    DBP: include a cameo appearance of at least one character from every previous story
    Super Bonus Bragging Rights: this means 12 previous stories and characters
  • have a character who is addicted to their cell phone.
    BP: if their phone addiction forwards the plot
  • your character(s) explore an abandoned building
    BP: they find something important/of value
    DBP: they hadn’t realized they needed this object until they found it
    TBP: they’d never been in the building before, and/or had no reason to be in it
  • include the following line: “The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity”
  • use “hedgehog” in an insult
  • include a chicken, duck and a penguin in your novel
  • a character’s house is haunted
    BP: f the ghost leaves random messages around the house
    DBP: if those messages are things like “You’re out of milk.”

Next step in prep, start the scrivener file and update the excel template. Funny thing, I shared on fb that I have an excel template for keeping track of wordcount during nano and it plots pretty charts too. Something like 20 people responded that they’d like a copy. Some of them are published authors too! I’m usually flabbergasted when I get more than 3-4 of reactions to my fb posts, it’s not like I’m popular or anything.

I’ve been using this report card for so long, when someone thanked me for the effort of making it, I realised I had to clarify that it isn’t mine. Someone shared it on the nano forums and I made some changes–took out some features that I didn’t use and added a sheet to keep track of number of words by chapter. I guess I’ve made it mine over the years.


At first I thought that it’s been around since 2009 and in those days nano wasn’t that well known and mostly only geeks knew about it. I searched through my mba folders and found an earlier version from 2005. I think they had it in 2004 already, but I was a) so late; and b) so new that year I may have missed it.


Wow, 2005. Talk about longevity. I still love the simple progress chart. This was from last year, which bucked the recent norm because I kept on adding a few words every day even after I reached 50k. The novel’s not finished. Some time around 2008 I realised it wasn’t necessary to finish a novel at 50k words. Out of 12: 4 finished, 1 finished but half lost due to flashdrive accident, 7 in progress (aka stopped at 50k mark).