NaNo Tips for Newbies

12:01 November 1, 2015 – NaNoWriMo begins.  I’ll be asleep thank you.  But when I am able to start on my nano project I have my 30 points of light,  er 30 outline points. Trouble is,  I only have my outline thought out to about 15.  Head scratching and brainstorming have been the brunt of my nano planning for the last couple of days.  Characters are solid,  as this is a continuation of a previous story. My world building is somewhat completed as I have much of it  planned out in my mind.

I have the major story arc, the main plot points, and some key points down. As I flesh this out from the are bones skeleton,  I thought I’d share a few points for the newbies.

Whenever you get stuck, here are 5 points that can move your story forward.

  1. Someone has to die.    In National Treasure, someone had to go to prison. IN your novel,  someone has to die. The possibilities are endless.  That lady that cut you off on the interstate? Change her to a male drunk driver that crashes into a truck, hindering your protagonists progress.  The person that made you feel like not only what you said or did was wrong but who you are is wrong –  yeah,  change the sex, change the hair color, keep one letter from their name –  let’s say A – and recreate them.  If it’s a person that you have to deal with often, like a coworker, a neighbor perhaps save their death scene for a climactic scene. Andrea dies on page 37. Alex died on page 98. Aella was spared in chapter 1, chapter 5, chapter 9, and again in chapter 27. In fact he is spared for this book.  Of course, stuff happens.  I’m not going to give it away, but bad stuff, lots of bad bad stuff!  See what I did there?  I extracted my writerly revenge on the person who I borrowed the A from at least 4 times in the first book.  I call it my Phoenix Effect – how many ways/times can you kill off the person that pissed you off without going to jail?  Remember also,  that Eric is the NaNo sacrificial lamb. Be sure to  utter the worship word to the NaNo gods before ending Eric.
  2. Wrong turns can be redeemed and are usable. Let’s say the protagonist made a wrong choice, work it!  I mean really work it.  Let’s say our protagonist decides to take off in the middle of the night alone when she sees a big burly man on the surveillance cameras.  Because we think we can do anything , right ladies?  How many times has your mother told you not to go out alone at night?  It’s not just a big city thing,  there are weirdos out there!  USE IT.  USE ALL OF IT!
  3. There’s a lull in the action. Why not seize this opportunity to express the character’s internal struggles? Or have a scene where they share some of their past that explains why they react a certain way?
  4. Plot bunny! Whether it is executed in grand Monty Python style,  or  it permutates into something insidious . . .  it can be like the Easter eggs in video games. What fun! How did that cute little bunny manage to turn into a tentacled sea monster that spews acid anyway? You never know what you will find in Atlantis, right?
  5. You have absolutely no idea where to go from here . . . . Let’s say for argument sake that you made an outline, however you have deviated from said outline.  A.) Go review the outline,  and make up something  of how you can get from where you are back on track to the outline.  OR B.) throw the outline away and the world is your oyster.  Seriously.  I mean after all, if Darth Vader can go from being the prophesied Chosen One  with the highest number of midi-chlorian in his blood as a child – ever, to suddenly accepting Darth Sidious as his master –  talk about plot hole that you could shove an entire universe through! I mean come on,  he back-talked and questioned everything that Quai-Gon Jinn said, questioned Obi Wan, questioned Yoda – but  suddenly is  ‘Yes master’ to Darth Sidious, talk about your character being inconsistent!  but then again we aren’t George Lucas. Maybe you should go back to option A.

Most of all, NaNo is supposed to be a fun challenge. It’s a first draft. I’ve been known  to type in XXXXX (Need a place-name here)  instead of stressing over those details while I am in draft mode.  Get it down. There is always time to revise come December 1. It’s not the time to stress over proper grammar or whether your tense is consistent. Don’t freak out because your friend shared a passage that rocked and you can’t see  anything you’ve written yet that is half as good.  Whatever!  Keep writing. Write like the wind, at least 1667 words per day.  I myself tend to  write 2500 to 3000 the first week,  around 2000 or more the second week, and between 1500 and 2000 the remainder. I am not online on the weekends, so any weekend writing is done with pen and notebook and is then translated with Dragon on Monday. Dictation goes much faster than typing, and my Monday word counts can be 12K or more, because it’s 3 days worth of writing.  Whatever works for you!

Write on my friends, write on!



4 comments on “NaNo Tips for Newbies

  1. Thank you for the advice! This is my first NaNo, and I just realized that I am a Pantster! Well sort of. I had a highly detailed outline that was almost finished (I’ve been working on it since April), and I just couldn’t seem to flesh out the rest of the story. I lost interest in it. So now I’m starting over, but this time, I LOVE my story idea and my main character! I feel really good about it, so I wrote a few plot points. I’ll add a few more over the next few days before NaNo starts.


    • Way to go Angelique!I used to be a pantser, but ended up trashing over half of what I wrote. Outlining helps me stay on track from my story idea. It’s ok to deviate form it, but then I just have to adjust. I found it too discouraging to have to trash volumes of words.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. awesome! I don’t go into quite so much detail I only make character arcs and build my settings do some research on main topics and get my beginning middle and end ( if i have an idea)I just hope my characters lead me .


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