Right, so you've decided to give NaNo a try and you're feeling motivated. How do you begin?
Well that depends entirely whether you're a pantser or a plotter.
A pantser writes by the seat of the pants. A true pantser will sit down on 1st November, open a new Word document and simply start to write, letting the characters emerge and the just enjoying the ride to see where the story takes them.
A plotter will spend the entire month of October getting to know the characters, interviewing them, creating a detailed synopsis, perhaps even detailing what will happen in each chapter, and when Day One rolls around will simply start filling in the novel with actual words.
Most of us fall somewhere in between. You have an idea before you start where you want to set the novel, who your main characters are, and what's going to happen to them. If you're writing romance you'll have a rough idea what conflicts are going to keep the hero and heroine apart, and how they're finally going to resolve those conflicts and get their Happy Ever After. The rest will slowly unfurl as you write.
Me, I started as a plotter. I had little tables indicating what would happen in each chapter. Then as I wrote everything would change and I'd spend half my time revising my beautiful tables. I discovered that change is a good thing. Now, I start with the characters and their conflicts, and let them lead the way - often they know what works better than I do! I've learned to trust my characters, but I still have to start with a frame-work.
So how about you - are you a plotter or a pantser?