Monday, November 2, 2015

5 Tips for Getting Started on NaNoWriMo

It's November 2 which means if you are planning on getting started on NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, you should have started yesterday to begin working on the magic 50,000 word count that you need to have finished by the end of the month. 

I got started and blasted right out of the gate, doing more than the average of 1667 words a day. Okay I only completed a little over 1700 words, but it made my average.  The problem with that is that if you start too slow it can cause problems later down the road. If you don't keep up the average you might find yourself with a day where you have to write 3000 words or then 5000. Get the picture? Pretty soon you are so far behind that you can't catch up.

My biggest problem yesterday was that I had my beginning but after I wrote all that I realized I didn't have any place to go with my plot. I wasn't certain where I wanted to start this morning -- pretty pathetic for day two when there are still 28 to go. So what can you do when you hit a slow patch (like Day Two?)

1. Get to know your characters better.  I spent this morning writing backgrounds for my main character. Yes, I know that is slow going in the first pages and I will probably move a lot of that information around into later chapters so that I don't slow the story down, but it is vital information, especially for someone who writes with only a limited plot idea.

2. Spend time getting to know the location better.  That means writing more of a detailed description of the setting for the story. Again, this is information that will probably fall into place later in the book, but it can be done in the editing process.

3. Write a couple of the first scenes that you know you want in the book. I started out with just the scene I wanted to open my book, and which I had already planned for the beginning, but then I realized there were several other scenes that might not follow that particular character but also needed to be in the first couple of chapters.  I wrote them up and now they will be ready when I get to Chapter Two.

4. Work on your dialogue.  How do you want your characters to sound?  Make them talk right away. Don't get too trapped in all that description. Do a couple of dialogue scenes so that you begin to get a good feel for the characters. 

5.  Introduce some of your secondary characters too. Don't be afraid to put that character sketch of your secondary character up high for now. Again, you can move it down when you edit. 

As you start the book, there are so many directions to head. Don't be afraid to try some of those to see if they might be good enough to stay in the book. You might find they won't work, but some of the writing or scenes can help you make your book stronger later.

Most of all, get up and write!  And keep thinking about your story, even when you're not writing. Make little notes so that tomorrow when you get to the keyboard or pull out your notebook to write, you will be better prepared.

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