The NaNoWriMo Schedule for All Storytelling Types

It’s that time of year again when National Novel Writing Month is around the corner! For many people, this means finding the time to write a novel for the first time EVER. And instead of doing it alone, you do it with tons of other people going through the same thing on the same schedule!


However, what if you’re a storyteller looking to finally that great big “thing,” and that “thing” isn’t a novel? What if you’ve always wanted to write a television pilot or a play, but you haven’t yet mustered up the courage—or time—to write it yet?

After all, there is no such thing as a “National Playwriting Month” or “National Screenwriting Month.” Which means there isn’t a schedule for these people to follow like there is for NaNoWriMo.

However, using this guide all writers and storytellers—screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, and so forth—will be able to participate in NaNoWriMo writing the story of their choice, no matter the medium.

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is, as mentioned earlier, National Novel Writing Month. In the month of November, writers around the world gear up to write 1,667 words a day so that by the end of the month, they’ll have a 50,000 word manuscript in their hands.

It’s no secret that writing a novel is a momentous achievement. It’s often something many people are certain they are not capable of, which is why there is a month dedicated to rallying writers all over the world to write together and achieve their dreams!

However, the reason, I’d argue that this challenge hasn’t been adapted as often by other mediums is that they just don’t seem nearly as unachievable to write. After all, a screenplay is 90 pages, whereas a novel is over 300 pages—and that’s without any dialogue formatting.

But just because writing a novel requires more words, doesn’t mean completing a feature-length play is easy or a big achievement for people. Which is why I’ve broken down each major storytelling medium into a NaNoWriMo schedule!

The NaNoWriMo Schedule for Novelists

As stated earlier, for novelists, the NaNoWriMo schedule is quite simple:

  • Write 1,667 words per day

  • 50,000 word manuscript on day 31

Though 50,000 words is technically the length of a novella, it is still a large manuscript to work with and can lay the foundation for a full book after rewrites and drafting.

Is this the only NaNoWriMo schedule?

The 1,667 words per day schedule is the original word count, however, it is not the only one.

If you are writing your first novel you’ll want to keep your end word count to about 75,000 words, as that is the standard for an author’s first novel.

For that, your schedule would be as follows:

  • 2,420 words per day

  • 75,000 words manuscript at day 31

If this is your first novel, I highly recommend sticking with the original goal of 1,667 words per day. However, if you’re ready for the challenge you can make your daily word count goal even higher to help you crank out the appropriate length for your story.

Can you write short stories for NaNoWriMo instead?

Though NaNoWriMo is all about novel writing, you might be writing a book of short stories or trying to get back into writing them more often. For that reason, you can easily follow the NaNoWriMo schedule exactly like you would for a novel, writing 1,667 words per day without much deviation from the original challenge.

Or, you can calculate your goals based on how many stories you wrote instead of words.

If you wished to do it that way, you could use this schedule:

  • One short story per week

  • Four short stories at day 31

Keep in mind that this is just a suggestion. You can write as many stories as you like. This is just a starting point for those who do not wish to write a novel this November, but instead, want to tackle something else!

The NaNoWriMo Schedule for Screenwriters

For many screenwriters, writing a feature film is the first start to finally proving to yourself that you can finally write for the big screen. In fact, if you’ve never written anything lengthy before, a screenplay makes for a great confidence boost in your storytelling skills!

How many pages should you write per day?

If you are writing a feature-length screenplay, your end script should be between 90–120 pages. However, just like with novel writing, you’ll want to stick to the lower page count for your first screenplay.

With that in mind, your schedule for the month of November would look like so:

  • Three pages per day

  • 90 pages on day 31

If you are more experienced as a screenwriter or have a bigger story to tell, you could write a longer script following this schedule:

  • Four pages per day

  • 120 pages on day 31

Can you write a TV show for NaNoWriMo?

Though even a long television pilot is much shorter than a feature film, there is nothing stopping you from writing a pilot for NaNoWriMo. Depending on whether you write a comedy or a drama will determine how many pages total you write, but the process will be more or less the same as writing a feature film.

For a comedy, you’d likely use the following schedule for NaNoWriMo:

  • One page per day

  • 30 pages on day 31

For a drama, you’d follow a schedule like this:

  • Two pages per day

  • 60 pages on day 31

Or like this, if you want to break it into four acts instead:

  • One act per week at 10-15 pages

  • About 60 pages on day 31

Keep in mind that writing a television pilot requires much more planning than other stories and is therefore very hard to write by the seat of your pants. To prepare ahead of time be sure to read through my guide on how to write a television pilot.

The NaNoWriMo Schedule for Playwrights

Playwriting and screenwriting typically have the same feature-length page-count. However, because playwriting is a more flexible medium in general, there isn’t a set number of pages that make it easy to adhere to.

Typically, most feature-length plays are about 100 pages, but again, this is not set in stone. But, given that this is a something you see often, it will be the number you strive to hit during NaNoWriMo if you’re trying to write a play.

How many pages should you write per day?

Ideally, when writing a play, you’ll want to write around three pages per day, especially if you are writing a feature or a series of short plays.

So, your schedule would look like so:

  • Three pages per day

  • 99-100 pages on day 31

However, just like with television writing, you can also choose to divide your story into acts or scenes, and create goals based on that. One caveat to this approach though is that there are typically three acts to a play, which makes it hard to break up by the week.

To work around this, you’d just divide every third of the month up, or ever 10 days, like so:

  • One act every 10 days

  • Three acts on day 31

Again, how you really approach your NaNoWriMo is up to you, especially if you’re not writing a novel, but this should ideally point you towards the best way to write a play in a month.

The NaNoWriMo Schedule for Video Game Writers

Video game writing is the newest of all storytelling mediums, meaning there isn’t much information out there on how to write them.

However, that is exactly why it is so important to go ahead and start writing video games as soon as possible. It will get you out of your comfort zone, but it will also help you develop your skills and get ahead of the competition if you already know how to write one.

Plus, it’s another story in your portfolio! And that’s never a bad thing!

Can you actually write an entire video game in one month?

Though video game writing is very complicated, should you ever want to write for larger triple-A companies, you’ll want to start building a video game writing portfolio. This means having finished scripts you can show people that attest to your skills.

And while you cannot write an entire 180-hour video game in one month, you can easily write a 2-3 hour game in that time, if not longer. It’s all about scaling your talents here, just like with NaNoWriMo.

You don’t try to write a 700-page novel for NaNoWriMo, nor should you try to write an epic RPG for this modified NaNoWriMo for video game writers. Instead, focus on a small project, and I promise you can execute it in that time.

What should you write during the month of NaNoWriMo as a video game writer?

Given the time constraint of only having one month to write your video game script, you’ll want to pick an idea that is relatively short to write, especially if you have a choice-based game.

Because one thing to consider is your game could be very long, but not have many options, so if the script is 100 pages versus 200 pages, that’s a huge difference in the length of the story.

But if your story is 100 pages with tons of options, versus 200 pages with tons of options, often the bulk of that story is behind-the-scenes. It’s decisions that a player may never see, dialogue a player may never hear, stories they may never even encounter.

For that reason, the length is hard to quantify, since a two hour game could easily have a longer script than a ten hour game if there are more choices in the former.

However, to give you something to work with, use this daily page count goal to keep you on track:

  • Two pages per day

  • 62 pages on day 31

Of course, this is for short, simple video game. But what if you want to write a part of your epic RPG?

You totally can! In fact, writing a few quests to get your feet wet is a great way to warm yourself up to video game writing.

RELATED: How to Write Your First Quest

Instead of tracking your goals by pages, you’ll instead set goals based on your quest or quests.

So, if your goal is to write one quest a week for your RPG, your schedule would be much like that of the short story:

  • One quest per week

  • Four quests on day 31

As you can see, there are many variables to consider for video game writing. To set the best goal, look for a challenge that goes a little bit beyond what you believe you are capable.

Remember, your video game script may be much more complicated, and sixty pages of it could easily be one long-winded quest if you choose. While that’s not a bad thing, it’s something to anticipate as you start to write your video game for NaNoWriMo!

All in all, though NaNoWriMo is geared around writing a novel in a month, there is no reason you can’t write whatever your story you’d like during that time period as well.

Using the suggested schedules in this post, you hopefully have a bit more guidance and a daily action plan for executing your story!

Emma WelshComment