6 Writing Prompts to help you prepare for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Writing

This year’s National Novel Writing Contest (NaNoWriMo) is coming up in one month’s time and authors from all over the world are getting ready to spend the month of November to write 50,000 words of a novel. To celebrate this exciting time of the year, we’ve released a brand new Novel Preparation package with 31 writing prompts to help you prepare. 

Below, we share a few out of our favourites to get you started. To complete the entire package, sign up to Daily Prompt Premium. 

Table of Contents

Should you write for NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo drums up a lot of excitement in the writing world, and with good reason. So many of us writers have a book we’ll write “some day” and NaNoWriMo challenges us to make that happen today instead. 

With thousands of other writers taking part each year, it helps transform a solitary (and quite frankly gruelling) task into a shared experience. You might have a bad day, and struggle with writer’s block, but there’s comfort when you look online and find that you’re not alone in that. 

Perhaps the best reason of all to get involved is the focus it is on writing without editing. One of the biggest obstacles any of us face while writing is our inner critic. Its harsh voice discourages us and poops on our ideas, so we barely make it past the first paragraph. With NaNoWriMo, however, the focus is to just get 50,000 words down. No editing. No reading back. Just simply write…

With that in mind, to get off to a strong start, it’s time to start preparing for this year’s event. Follow these 7 writing prompts to start exploring your novel for NaNoWriMo 2021: 

1. Describe an average day in the life of your protagonist before your story starts

You don’t have to write a dramatic story, just get into the mindset of your character and think about their daily behaviours, interactions and emotions.

This helps you explore your main character better and understand their idiosyncrasies. How do they react to the everyday circumstances? What crosses their mind on a typical day? Where do they put their focus?

2. Write a 100-word description of your main character's physical appearance

Consider which features are most important to mention; which might factor into the story, or change the way the reader, and other characters, interact with your protagonist?

You’ve explored what your protagonist thinks and acts like, now it’s time to fill in the gaps with their physical appearance. What makes them distinctive? How can you paint this picture in your reader’s mind?

3. Write a descriptive narrative about the world your novel is set in.

Step away from your main plot and consider how the world shapes your story. If your story takes place somewhere familiar (like the world today), focus on which elements of it will play into your story. 

Zoom out and look at where your protagonist is living. Consider how this might affect the plot you have in mind. 

4. How is your novel unique?

Whether it be a notable character, a plot twist, or an important message, how is this story your own? 

Why does this novel need to be written and why are you the one who should bring it to life?

Don’t put yourself under too much pressure to come up with the perfect answer here. This exercise is simply to challenge you to consider the uniqueness of the story you’re bringing to life. 

5, Make a list of exactly ten key plot points that will happen in your story.

If you can, get someone else to read these points and ask you questions about them – you may find you’ve missed key points or added in things that don’t matter.

This exercise is to help strengthen the ideas for your plot. Stories often start with one small idea, and this prompt helps you to expand beyond it to see if there are other elements of your novel you can explore. 

6. Take your protagonist out of your story, as if they do not exist. What are the lives of the other characters like without them?

Do your other characters have adventures and stories without the protagonist, or are they simply in your story to fulfil an extra role? In what ways would their lives be different?

Your novel will explore and touch the lives of other characters, too. This exercise helps you to paint a clearer picture of them in your mind and understand their personalities better. 

25 more prompts to help bring your novel to life

Our brand new prompt package about Novel Preparation is now available. It includes 31 different prompts to help you strengthen and explore your story idea throughout October ready for NaNoWriMo to start next month. 

Access the entire package on Daily Prompt Premium for iOS. It’s only £6.99 a month (or £34.99 for the year) and includes a week’s free trial to get you started. 

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