Everybody has their own preferred tricks and tools to get their novel going. Check back here throughout the month as we feature some of our favorites.
Need something to listen to while you novel? Have a playlist!
Conor: My favorite NaNoWriMo resource is by far Chaotic Shiny. They have generators for just about everything you could ever want. Need a name for a character? They’ve got you covered. Did you character just walk into a tavern that is ultimately irrelevant to the plot but you need more words to hit your goal for the day? They can generate an entire tavern, complete with specialty drinks, popularity level, and the ratio of shady to trustworthy in the clientele!
Alexis: I have two resources I’d like to share. One is WhizFolders (http://whizfolders.com/), which is like a cross between Scrivener and this obscure novel organization tool called yfolder. WhizFolders is not quite as resource-heavy as Scrivener, has a friendlier user interface, is just friendlier at everything. The graphics aren’t as smooth as Scrivener’s, but again, I find it much friendlier to use and much easier to find everything, and it doesn’t start up its own folders for its projects to be in, you can put the resulting project file in whatever folder you want. Yayyyy!!!
The other resource I like is the Write! app ( (https://writeapp.co/). It’s a distraction-free writing processor, with markdown and cool features like cloud storage, color changes, and a dark theme (my favorite), different kinds of tracking (words, characters, etc.), reading time, statistics- basically all kind of neat things in there. Best of all, though, it doesn’t clutter up the interface when you’re writing, it all fades into the background and waits for you to finish before it brings everything back again.
Laura: I first heard of Scrivener from Nanowrimo and took advantage of the promotion through Nano to purchase the program discounted with that year’s verified word-count win. I’ve used it every year since and every year I feel like I learn a new aspect of the program, another nugget of use that leaves me more satisfied with each use. Because the program is so multifaceted, it can seem daunting but the in-program tutorial helps to get you on the track to mastering its many applications. After years of using a basic word processor, being able to move chunks of story around in an easily visible way was a bit of a revelation. There are other programs that do similar things, more and more every year it seems, but Scrivener is a solid program that I am more than happy with and I plan to continue using it for many novels and Nanos to come.
Erika: I spread the Gospel of the Trello! (https://trello.com/) Trello is an organization site that was designed for business solutions and project coordination. However, it translates into a plot and character planning device beautifully. First of all, everything is online, so you can access it from anywhere. They also have an app. You make lists across the screen, and each list becomes a column that you add cards to. The cards are easy to drag and drop up and down the list or across to other lists. The cards have space for descriptive text, checklists, and comments, and you can upload pictures and files to the cards. You can swap the lists around, too. Imagine a list full of character cards, each with a picture. Plan your plot on the cards and swap items around on the list. Make checklists of what scenes to write. Got a co-author? You can both be on the same board. Have a board for each of your projects! There’s so much to choose from and I love it. I wanted to use it for this year’s novel, but I’m pantsing, so here’s a screenshot of the board for my D&D game. Behold!
Michelle: https://www.behindthename.com/ Great resource for names and also has surnames!
Lizzy: Save the cat method:
I also admire Susan Dennard’s commitment to craft. Here’s a link to a particularly NaNo worthy blog post: https://susandennard.
Erin: I know Laura already talked about Scrivener, but I cannot sing its praises highly enough. I bought it for full price in 2011 and have not regretted it for a single moment. It has revolutionized the way I write, and I’m continually learning new and exciting ways to leverage it further. While I love the desktop app and will evangelize about it at any given opportunity, what I’d really like to talk about here is the Scrivener iOS app. Having a dedicated mobile app has enabled me to be able to work on my projects from my phone or iPad even when I’m not at home. Since I’ve got two young kids and often find myself out and about doing things related to them and their needs, having my projects available to me whenever I have my phone at hand has been invaluable. It comes in handy during NaNoWriMo!