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NaNoWriMo 2021 Prepping with Scrivener

By Jeremy Bursey

Jeremy Bursey writes short stories, essays, poems, novels, and screenplays. He appreciates feedback for anything he offers to the public. He also takes too many pictures of cats and the ocean.

October 31, 2021

NaNoWriMo 2021: Plans and Scrivener Templates

November is coming tomorrow, and anyone who knows November who also knows writing knows that November is known as National Novel Writing Month…

Okay, too much alliteration. I hear you. Let me rephrase:

NaNoWriMo 2021 starts tomorrow, and if you ain’t ready, get ready! If you’re a writer, that is. If you’re a software engineer who’s never seen a book outside of programming manuals, then tomorrow is November 1st, and also Monday.

But for those who care about NaNoWriMo, I wanted to let you know that I made a Scrivener template a couple of years ago that’s worked out for me pretty well. I wrote 60,000+ words of Washed Up: A Pirate Adventure in 2019 and 60,000+ words of Nice and Legal in 2020 (both will be released someday, but not soon because they’re still unfinished), and the template made keeping track of daily progress much easier than my last system.

What the template does is to give writers a place to pre-plan their upcoming novels without errantly tracking word count, providing a place to record title, genre, synopsis, character notes, item notes, location notes, scene notes, and additional notes. There’s also a document page that allows writers to record their daily targets, their daily reaches, and their novel-wide totals so far, as well as any progress notes they want to make about the day’s journey. And then there’s a section that allows writers to jot down their notes or plans for December 1st and beyond.

The body of the template, the “Novel By Day” folder, is where the actual writing happens, and this is where the word tracking kicks in. Each day has its own document, and the writer commits all of the day’s work to that document. Then, once the day is over, any new work goes into the next document. The advantage here is that each day has its own word target and tracking system. So, it gives writers an opportunity to write now, report later, if that’s what they need. Although it wasn’t working so well in 2020 (what was?), the official site of NaNoWriMo in times past has had a word reporting feature that could be filled in any time. So, for those who want to write with accurate results right up until midnight and beyond can do so without missing a beat. Theoretically. This, of course, depends on whether the official site has its word count features working properly now.

When November ends, the writing doesn’t have to stop. My NaNoWriMo Basic Template for Scrivener also has a place for “continuing by scene” when Day 30 comes and goes and there’s still more to write. The new folder does not come with word targets, but it does continue word count tracking for the entire novel, so if you still want to know how bulky your novel is getting, the template will tell you.

Finally, this year I’ve added new features to the template to help with progress overview. Users who want to tag and label their documents with progress updates can do so by using “export” note pin labels, useful for determining which parts of the novel are ready to transfer into a more official document with proper chapter layout, and set status markers for achieved word targets. The documentation inside the template will explain in greater detail how that works, as will the video I recorded showing it all off.

If you want to use the template, you can get it from my sister blog, Drinking Café Latte at 1pm. (Note: I’ll be bringing it here once I get my templates page up and running.)

If you use the template, please let me know how it works out for you in the comments below. Regarding compatibility, I’ve built it with the Windows version of Scrivener, but a commenter on my blog mentioned that it works on Mac. So, you should be covered regardless of your operating system.

For 2021, I’m swamped with playing catchup on my upcoming projects, as well as finishing up the last few pages I need to consider this site “complete for now.” But I have announced a new book, based on an idea I’d written in my ideas file a few months ago, called Next in Line. The premise has two possible angles, but obviously I want to go with the more interesting one. Although I don’t want to spoil anything right now, I can share with you NaNoWriMo synopsis and let your imagination go from there. It’s a thriller. And I hope to make it more serious than my usual work. But we’ll see how long suppressing my funny bone lasts…


First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes murder and another marriage.


When her daughter, Lily, goes missing from elementary school, Cassandra Moxrider runs through the expected response channels to find her. School officials offer what they know. Police officials get on the case. Everyone seems to do his or her part to offer her some peace of mind.


But something about the situation seems off. Lily is not the type who wanders off. And she’s known to scream whenever she’s in danger. So, wherever she’s gone, she’s done so willingly. But why? And who is it that’s convinced her to go?


As Cassandra investigates further, a dark feeling overcomes her. The more truth she uncovers, the more she suspects her daughter’s disappearance has nothing to do with Lily but everything to do with her. If her suspicions are correct, then Lily’s disappearance is just Phase One of a much darker plan, one that neither she nor her daughter can survive.


If her fears are true, then Cassandra Moxrider has more to worry about than whether she’ll ever see her daughter again. She may, in fact, be “the next in line.”

(end synopsis)

So, what do you think? Sounds compelling? Or do you need more information? (I plan to rewrite the synopsis after it’s finished, so if it’s lame in its current state, I’d like to know.) The story’s effectiveness depends on how well I’ve chosen the protagonist, because the idea could make the protagonist, antagonist, and victim switch roles easily, and the meat of the story comes down to which character tells it better. I think I’ve got the right one, but time will tell. This is the discovery period. It could end up going anywhere at this point.

But that’s what I’m working on for NaNoWriMo 2021. The book I’d planned to write for this year, a longtime resident of my head called The Light Switch, got pushed back yet again because it’ll ultimately follow Nice and Legal, but I don’t know how, and I don’t want to start a story that I still can’t quantify. One day I’ll crack it, but I haven’t yet. It’s a tough story to tackle, and I won’t do it until I’m ready.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Be sure to mention your NaNoWriMo plans below.

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Welcome to Jeremy Bursey’s information superhighway. Why is your seatbelt on?

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