Monday, November 20, 2017

5 Tips for Making it Through NaNoWriMo

November has been a long month and it's only a little half over. If you are like me and thousands of other writers who decided to attempt the NaNoWriMo, (National November Writing Month) Challenge to write 50-thousand words, this is about the time you are probably wondering, "why?!"

I've done the challenge several times and ended up very happy with the process because it is the one time of the year when I just let myself go and focus on writing the story itself without the daily grind of editing or worrying if I am going in the right direction. I simply write what comes into my head.

But just like any other program that requires daily attention or constant attention it after three weeks, it can become drudge work. The first week I was going to write ins and marking down my progress on a chart every single day. If I stopped for the day, I sometimes would come back and finish up a scene because it stayed on my mind.

And it gets tougher and tougher to come up with that next scene. So how do you keep active and keep at it when you've reached this point?

1. Re-Evaluate your characters. I keep character charts that I fill out when I begin a story, but while the charts are very complete I don't usually fill them out at the beginning. I usually go through and fill them out as I write the story because I write by the seat of my pants. Writing the story helps me to get to know my characters.  This is a good time to go back and look at those charts and fill them out with everything you know about your characters. If you don't keep a character chart, then write out a paragraph about them or several showing who they are. Who knows, that might somehow fit into the story and give you something else to write about to get in your word count or the exercise might spur some new plot ideas.

2. Re-Evaluate your plot.  You think you know where you're going, but has the writing process changed things a little? Maybe you need to go in and fix some of those spots that you rushed through early on. Maybe you need to add a scene or two to make the plot work. Write those to get your daily word count.

3.  Take the story in a new direction.  I love all these crime shows that always say the detective found information that took the investigation in a "whole new direction." Well, perhaps that is what you need for your own story.  It can become a secondary plot or it can be used to make the entire story come together.

4.  Write a delightful conversation.  I write a story blog with several other writers and we've just started a new story, and it was fun to see the witty conversation our first writer started out with. That made me want to continue it in my turn, but it also sparked my own interest in writing dialogue in some of my other stories. And when I mean clever conversation, it doesn't have to be filled with sexual innuendos, look for some fun conversation that might even be your own joke for the readers.

5.  Write the ending.  This is not cheating. You are going to get there anyway if you are writing a full book this month. If you're stuck before the end, you might just want to see how the book ends now so that you can write in that direction.  Recently I heard best selling author Harlan Coben talk about his plotting process and he said he never has a complete plot. He compared it to a roadmap where you might have a beginning marked and the ending. But then along the way you can take lots of other routes to get there. You have your beginning written. You can write the end now and figure out how that road map is going to get you there.

So now, it is back to work.  I have tried all these methods in past years, so I know they can work, but if you are stuck, try one or the other. There are only ten more days left to get to that 50-thousand word count, and I know I mean to reach it!

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