Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

10K, Tossing The Cat Out, & A Nap

There are a couple of days left in the NaNoWriMo challenge. I think this is the first Thanksgiving in years that I didn’t write at all, which sucked because I had to make up for it the day after and felt completely brain damaged by the attempt. I have almost 10,000 words left to write. It’s doable, but I’m not used to cutting it this close on my goals. It makes me uneasy, and that doesn’t help the creative process.

Another thing that doesn’t help the creative process is The Boy getting his driver’s license. Add to that his plans to add some pep to my old car that has been kept around for the kids, and I’m fit to be tied. I thought the car was fairly peppy before, so I shudder to think what he means by “add more pep” to it. Something I think I’d rather not dwell on.

Darth Jingles has taken on a couple new habits that caught my attention. She likes to sneak outside when The Boy heads off to school. Being a black cat, she hides well in the shadows and she has the sort of pep in her tail The Boy is probably shooting for in the car.
Generally, Jingles has her collar on, but The Girl likes to take it off when the cat comes in. It’s a treat and Jingles loves to be Ninja Cat without her bell on. Plus she enjoys her humans’ pets and scratches more when we can rub her neck for her too. Spoiled cat.

When Jingles goes out without her collar, lately she’s come back in within a couple of hours. Then begs to go out again. It’s like she realizes she’s “naked” and gets the cat version of self-conscious, prompting her to come home. Our cat is a prude.

That’s one new oddity. The second is now that the weather’s turning, and we have regular frosts and even light snows, she’s delaying her pleas to go out until the sun comes up and melts the frost. Really? She has a black fur coat but she’s waiting for that little temperature boost? This is particularly annoying to me because I get up to boot The Boy out the door, then I go huddle up in bed again and write or read. Having the cat interrupt me either when I’m furiously typing to document some transient inspiration, or at a really good point in my book, is really irritating. It’s never when I’m staring at a blank page and trying to figure out what to write. It’s never at the end of a chapter when I’m reading. And she never has figured out how to wait patiently for me to finish typing a sentence, let alone complete a thought.

To that end, if Jingles doesn’t leave the house with The Boy now, she gets booted to The Girl’s room. Or that was the plan as of a week ago because of my late start to the NaNoWriMo challenge. The problem with that popped up the day after I initiated the new policy: The Girl.

I mentioned Jingles isn’t patient when she wants something. Food, her collar, attention, whatever. Neither is The Girl. She came stomping into my room at something like 730 in the morning, upset that I shoved the cat in her room and Jingles woke her wanting out. My train of thought immediately derailed, inner peace escaping for hours to come.

Now cats can be trained to a certain extent, and people accept that there are some things that are simply beyond a cat’s ability to process. Appropriate hours to eat, sleep, and play, for example. I think most people are also of the opinion that an 18-year-old college student should be trainable, at least more than a cat. I assure you this isn’t necessarily the case.

Plan C was to simply close the doors on Jingles, mine and The Girl’s. This left her free to roam the house and if she really wanted outside, she could approach Hubby with her request. You’d think I beat her. Jingles wasn’t cool with this plan. It left her with Hubby and no witnesses. Sure, she had the entire house (minus two rooms) she could wander and hide in to avoid Hubby, but that’s not good enough. He’s in her house and she doesn’t have anyone to cater to her. She could walk up and meow at him. He’s pretty fluid in bratty cat and would understand the request. No, it doesn’t work like that in her walnut-brain. Her interaction is with her family, not the “Great Furry One” and she won’t budge on that edict.

We like to imagine Jingles styles hubby “The Great Furry One” because he has an enviable beard and an even more enviable ponytail. Seriously, it’s sickeningly thick with almost perfect waves. One of The Girl’s friends calls him Fabio.

Moving on, I think the biggest relief from the end of the month won’t be the end of NaNoWriMo, it’ll be the end of the battle with Jingles. She gets a little, um, bitchy when she doesn’t get her way. I know that’s technically a canine term, but it applies to this particular feline. Also, then I’ll have time (in theory) to start Christmas decorations.

First, another 10,000 words. Then a nap.

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A Writer’s Need

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NaNoWriMo is well underway. It has been for twelve days, and the participants should be somewhere around 20,000 words written, if they’re on track. Many aren’t and that’s okay.

I wasn’t going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year because I’ve simply had too much on my plate and I need a break. I switched The Boy from home school back to mainstream high school, then discovered I still have to babysit him, plus he has his learners permit and I have to take him driving. Getting The Girl to choose a college, then change her mind twice was fun. She finally started school and got hit by a car. She’ll recover, but her injuries make attending even some of her classes hard so Hubby and I are helping her out. He drives her and carries her backpack to the classes she absolutely can’t miss, and I’m now playing teacher for The Girl instead of (mostly) The Boy for the classes she’s missing. It’s like a horror novel.

On a related note, I’ve taken up reading horror in my spare time (AKA long bubble baths). I didn’t like it before, but now… If I can survive a teenage boy, what’s a little death and carnage? Bah.

Oh, and we’re moving Hubby’s parents from the large house they’ve lived in for 40 years to a small apartment in a retirement village. Everything we pack has a memory and a story that must be relived at that precise moment before I can put it in a box. This will take forever.

And then NaNo came around again. I seriously have no time. Except, courtesy of stress and time constraints, for the past year I haven’t been writing much. I used to be able to sit down and knock out 1000 words in an hour or so and 5000+/day wasn’t anything worth celebrating. But I haven’t been writing 5000 words/day; most days I don’t write anything. I should have finished my work in progress by the beginning of the year. It’s November and I’m maybe 2/3 of the way through.

I don’t have time for NaNoWriMo. (Sound familiar?) I need to pack my inlaws, help my son with a math assignment, then study for a chemistry test. I need to make him actually read The Crucible because he’s trying to fake his way through the assignments. I also need to help my daughter study for two upcoming tests, clear out the garden and compost the tomato plants that refuse to die, winterize the yard, cover the air-conditioning unit, and get a new battery for the second car. Also take The Boy driving for Driver’s Ed. See? No time. Too many other things I need to do.

No, I’m a writer. What I need to do is write, and I haven’t been. Not blogs either. To a novelist that’s just not the same, and besides, I haven’t even been good about staying up to date there. Too many things are being pushed aside. I’m going slightly mad and I need to pull myself together. How? Write. I’m a writer, the need is pervasive and as essential as breathing to my overall well-being.

Back to NaNoWriMo then. It’s day 12. I have written exactly 0 words in my manuscript so far this month. I counted. (Actually I looked at the last day the file was updated and it said October 28.) I don’t need to add 50,000 words to this book. It’ll take far less than 50,000 words to finish, but I need to finish it. I’m going to stick with the 50,000 word goal of the challenge anyway because it’s tradition. Once I finish she novel, I can start something else. But to reach 50,000 words by the end of the month means 2635 words/day. So? I used to do that regularly when I competed in NaNo. My personal goal was 2500 words/day and I usually exceeded it, so no sweat, right?

No. There will be a lot of sweating. Probably swearing too. I’m out of practice with less free time than usual and more stress. In short, I’m in about the same mindset as someone doing this for the first time. I was better than this my own first time which makes my position particularly embarrassing and uneasy for me.

The upshot? I’ll participate in NaNoWriMo again this year because I need to get my butt in gear and head back in the game, and this is part of what the challenge is about. For new writers or those who haven’t established regular and successful writing habits yet, NaNo is about making you stop daydreaming, procrastinating, or overthinking your project and just do it. I thought I was done needing NaNo years ago. When I participated it was for fun not the actual challenge of it. I lost my way over the past year and a half and now I need NaNo again to whip me back into shape.

The challenge is ready and waiting, now it’s up to me to rise to the occasion.

 

 

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Apparently Not.

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A friend read my last blog post and came by to have it out with me over NaNoWriMo.

“It’s national novel writing month, not national novel writing three weeks!”

Well, yeah, but … I flipped him off because I didn’t have a response for that. Yeah, I’m a wordsmith. Worse, in our chat he reminded me of something else that I have to accomplish in November that I didn’t have on the scales of writing already: Christmas. I’m behind. Really behind. Uncharacteristically and unforgivably behind, and I can’t pass my behind-ness off on Hubby because one of the things I’m behind on is nagging him to get his own list taken care of. Just lovely.

One of the things I wrote in my last post was:

Fine, 2500/day. Will I have inspiration to help me? Yes actually. I’ve had this novel seething in the back of my mind while I dealt with other things. My fingers are twitching to get it finished. Inspiration makes words flow. I’d feel better if I had a more solid ending in mind. Right now it’s a vague concept and I’m not comfortable with that. It won’t be a problem though.

I know how a write, even when I outline I’m a pantser. My characters look over the nice, neat outline I set forth and laugh. Then they go do their own thing. It’s incredibly frustrating. The ending will come into focus when my characters get closer to it. And I haven’t missed NaNoWriMo since I took up writing again. Yes, Christmas will be an issue, I have a lot to do this month, deadlines are looming, and starting this late just adds to the pressure.

Pressure? I can do this. There’s nothing like talking myself into ‘I can’t do this’ to make me need to do it.

Decision made on Saturday, I focused on getting as much done on Sunday as I could before my ‘deadline.’ Sounds logical, right? It’s suspiciously close to planning, and life chose Monday morning to remind me I’m a pantser, not a planner.

What happened? My own personal Drama Princess, again. Oddly, last year at this time we had almost exactly the same problem: sitting in the emergency room when obviously we’d rather she was in school. Then spending hours the next day visiting a doctor while he scratched his head and shrugged. The good news: she’ll be okay and able to throw a curve ball at me again next year. The bad news: I can anticipate her being whiny off and on for another week.

Darth Jingles is caught inside by ‘fluffy rain’ which others might know as ‘frozen mix’ so that should be a source of comfort for The Girl. And it is, off and on. Jingles gives her loves, then wanders off in search of somewhere she can sleep without having to listen to Adventure Time in the background. I totally empathize with her. I love my cat and won’t subject her to that nonsense even if it does sooth The Girl. Okay, I won’t subject her to it often of for very long. Not all day.

Needless to say, no NaNoWriMo this year. Last year I was ahead when disaster struck, and was able to bounce back from falling behind. This year I’m already behind by too much to make a ‘comeback’ anything less than determined misery. I’m not willing to do that to myself, I don’t have anything to prove.

I will cheer everyone else on, however. As of today, November 12th, you should be almost half-done. In word count that’s easy to quantify, but on your story? That’s quite a bit harder. And you may be nowhere near half done on your story, the total length may (probably will) exceed 50k. The target length depends on genre and your plans for the piece. That makes it difficult to gage your progress, and makes word count nearly useless (with the exception of NaNoWriMo.)

So how do you know if you’re doing well? Is your plot established by now? Not your resolution, but the conflict should be exposed and your characters should have goals. How far they’ve gone to achieve those goals will vary, but they should still be working on them. The end doesn’t need to be in sight yet, so don’t fret about that. In fact, the climax doesn’t even need to be in the near future. Maybe I need to have a chat about balancing your story. Hmm. Next time. For now, keep writing.

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To Write Or Not To Write

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NaNoWriMo is a quarter over. Yay? I guess it depends on how you’re doing. I’m not sure how I’m doing, I still haven’t decided whether to participate.

That probably sounds strange to people who do participate. I have for years, but I have a lot on my plate this year and I’m not sure I can justify taking time to write with the devotion needed – at least not yet. I have a novel to finish, not that it will take 50,000 words to finish it. Then again, I have to rewrite the first chapter completely, so that would help. Keeping in mind I’d have to trim a lot in revisions, I could add 50k to the story. Now it’s just a matter of if I will.

It’s a hard decision sometimes, to write or not to write. I’m caught up in revising a book then handing back to the monsters who edit it and run the changes by the demons who said they don’t like this or that about the story. And I need to get this all done quickly because I need that book released. Then there are the teenagers and their issues and dramas. I don’t want to think about that right now.

But I like to write and I feel like I’ve been mucking about with teenage dramas too much lately. And book dramas. I need the escape that writing provides. I’ve been making do with reading, even going so far yesterday as to pick up an old go-to fantasy favorite – Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn. If you look it up, ignore the cover – it makes it look like a 600 page romance. Which it is. But it’s a fantasy romance and has a rich world and intrigue and it’s really more about the intrigue than the romance arc. Never mind, I’m babbling.

So to write or not to write. Not writing isn’t really an option, I will write this month and I’ll get a respectable word count (It’s November, I’m obligated to keep track) even if I don’t throw myself into NaNoWriMo. By today, writers should have at least 11,670 words. If I really throw myself into it, I can start on Monday or Tuesday and still make the 50k goal, but is it worth it? Starting off that far behind is stressful, but I’ve finished NaNo with over 60k almost every year and once I had 80k. It depends on inspiration. (I’m a pantser. If I had a plot outline, that would be a completely different story.) I know what I can do (word count wise) when I’m left alone to write and have inspiration on my side. And I know what I can do if my fickle muse is off partying and I’m left with brute determination. I can still do this. But I have a lot of other things to do, they’re time consuming, and they take priority over a challenge I’ve won several times. I don’t need to prove anything to myself or others, it’s just sort of a tradition.

I know this is coming far too late for some of you, the question of whether to accept the challenge or not, but it is a question some writers have to agonize over. Desire to follow your dreams and passion vs commitment.

I think commitment intruding on your time is the reason some people give for not meeting your goal by November 30th. Maybe. I’ve always been more inclined to believe it was a matter of being realistic with your time, at least in the people I’ve talked to over the years.

Last year I urged everyone to face harsh reality when making their schedule. Not their work schedule and commitments to family activities and such, your word count schedule. Yes, there are 30 days in November, so that equates to 1667 words/day. Not everyone will be able to write on all 30 days. Be realistic about it. Remove Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Recovery Saturday from your list. That leaves 27 writing days, so you have to write 1852 words/day. Do you always end up spending a day fussing over a sick child in November or get sick yourself? Subtract another day. Can’t write every day of the week? Subtract four more days, or five depending on the day. Redivide 50k by the realistic number of writing days and get a new daily goal. Then round up. Always round up. I round 1667 up to 2000, but 1700 might be easier to swallow. When I know I’m meeting my goal of 2000 words a day, and that will give me a safe padding of 10k at the end of the month (60k total instead of 50k) it makes it easier to accept little annoyances that keep me from writing with grace. I can make it up, and hey, I have 10k to absorb those issues.

If I start on Monday, November 9, I will be 15k behind. That sounds horrible! Another way to look at it is: I have 21 writing days left (yes, I write on Thanksgiving) so that’s 2381 words a day, round up to 2400. I’d actually round to 2500, rounding to 3000 is almost cruel given that I know the month will be busy in addition to writing sprees.

Fine, 2500/day. Will I have inspiration to help me? Yes actually. I’ve had this novel seething in the back of my mind while I dealt with other things. My fingers are twitching to get it finished. Inspiration makes words flow. I’d feel better if I had a more solid ending in mind. Right now it’s a vague concept and I’m not comfortable with that. It won’t be a problem though.

I suppose I need to work through the weekend and reassess on Monday. Will I be able to get everything done without things falling through the cracks? There’s little point in my mind about taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge if I don’t have a chance to win it. Maybe starting late will encourage me not to be so cavalier about it. Face it, it hasn’t been much of a challenge for me. Except that one year when hubby had a family emergency and I got really sick. That sucked.

This could be a good thing.*

*Always view NaNoWriMo as a challenge of opportunity. If it’s a source of stress so great in your life that you start downing entire bottles of Tums and going through a bottle of wine while you’re writing and another at dinner, then you’re doing it wrong. It’s not worth that.

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All Words Are Not Created Equal

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We have only a couple of days until National Novel Writing Month begins. I trust everyone planning to participate in this illustrious event has an idea for what they’re going to write, or they’re existing in a state of near-panic. The NaNoWriMo emails and blog posts are scheduled to get writers excited and energized for November 1st. Then they’ll strive to keep the participants motivated, offer ideas for writers hung up on their storyline, suggestions for how to torment your characters, writing tips, cheer on the ones who fall behind in word count, and some tricks to increase your word count – actually, I’d like to talk about that.

NaNoWriMo isn’t all about word count. Yes, I know the challenge is to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November, but that’s just the technical bit. To me, NaNo is about the experience. Not the experience of obsessing over word count, that’s a bad habit. I see it as the experience of writing a novel as a whole. You prepare: get your general story lined up – plot it if you can, then you have to get those first exhilarating and terrifying words ‘on paper’ to get you started. Once you have your beginning, then the experience is about continuing. Some writers have problems with this bit and NaNo forces them to face their bad habit and break it.

A common problem with new or inexperienced writers is that they edit as they go. By ‘inexperienced, I’m including those who’ve been writing for years. I’m talking about experience in terms of habits, not length of time or amount of effort. I feel like a bit of a hypocrite lecturing on this as I edit as I go. However, I have completed over a dozen novels. I know how to finish a book. For some, editing as you go keeps you from finishing your masterpiece. You hear this repeatedly, so I won’t dwell on it further other than to say the reason you hear it repeatedly is because so many writers have trouble listening to this advice: knock it off.

There are writers out there who have dozens of first pages/chapters. They get it down, then decide they’re not going to write that story right now after all. Maybe they think it wasn’t good enough, maybe they thought of something else that’s more exciting, or maybe they just don’t know where to go next. Knock that shit off too. Focus. Finish one.

I’ve written before about how when I write it’s non-linear. That’s largely to avoid writer’s block. If I’m midway through Chapter 3 and don’t know where to go next, I’ll think about it for a short time, and if I don’t come up with an answer, I’ll just skip ahead to Chapter 3 or 4 or 8. I know what happens eventually, so I’ll write that while mulling over how to get my hero from the edge of the precipice I left him on. Eventually I’ll either think of the answer, or write my way backwards until I get to that point and realize I made a mistake and he was never supposed to be on the cliff in the first place. It was cool to have him hanging around up there, but it wasn’t right for the story. A plot dead end. Writer’s block because of plot issues isn’t an excuse to stop writing. And yes, writing this way makes continuity a bitch. (Tip: Keep a really good story bible/style sheet, timeline, outline, etc.)

In NaNo, a lot of writers focus more on word count that they should. They don’t use contractions. They use wordy descriptions instead of something concise and the writing ends up loose and slippery instead of tight. It loses impact. I understand it, but I don’t agree with it.

NaNo is about pushing ahead and losing bad habits that keep writers from finishing books. It’s inadvertently causing some writers to create bad habits by encouraging this loose, ineffective writing and we all know how hard it is to break those habits. Yes, you fix a lot of that nonsense in revisions so I don’t usually fuss about it. In time, you start catching yourself as you write those unnecessarily wordy descriptions and correct yourself, then you stop using as many adjectives and adverbs in the first place. Better word choices is better writing. Still, I hate to see writers fall into that trap in the first place.

My challenge to all you NaNoWriMo participants this year is to use better word choices. Sacrifice word count for better writing. I don’t condone editing as you go, I still believe NaNoWriMo and first or second novels is not the time and place for that. But use the best verb in the first place. “He whispered” instead of “He said softly,” “She raced” instead of “She ran quickly,” and so forth. Ditch as many adverbs as you can. Then, when you hit your 50k, you’ll have a better manuscript – something you might be able to show a spouse or friend and know they’re reading your story, not struggling to follow the plot drowning in a sea of words.

Get more from your November, and good luck.

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I wrote something. Yay! Now what?

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NaNoWriMo is over. Many of you are surely relieved. Some because they don’t do this sort of thing to themselves and are tired of hearing about it. Others because they did and now they want to collapse into a puddle on the floor. A few wish it would have gone on a little longer so they could get just a few more words in.

Whether you won or not is irrelevant now actually. Okay, winning is better, you get that high from achievement. But honestly, what matters is setting out to accomplish something, giving it your best, and being able to walk away knowing that you really did do everything you could to achieve that goal. As I wrote about before, things come up. I had an unexpected medical emergency in the family that I certainly didn’t account for. Well, that’s not true. I aim high to try to cover for the unexpected, but even then, I fell behind. I fell behind my personal goal, and even the (low for me) NaNo official 1667 words/day goal. That caused me stress I haven’t felt in a while and I actually don’t have anything to prove to anyone. I’m only doing this for the sake of tradition, and I question that every year. I remember writing my first book, my second – actually, ignore those, they went unrealistically smooth. I remember my third and fourth. Holy hell, there are some chapters out there that I swear I bled on every page – quite a feat considering I don’t physically write or print my books. (My little brother is a writer, he physically writes his stories. Pen and paper. I can’t believe it.) But I digress. Whether you got 70,000 words, 50,000, or 5,000; if you fought to get those words down in 30 days, there were emotions, frustration, maybe anxiety and fear. It’s not over.

So what next? In part, that depends on whether your story is done. If it isn’t – finish it. And for those who are still working on their first novel, or their first in a long time, if what you did during November worked to get you farther than you had when you were toying with the idea before, stick with it. If you need a daily goal, or to not edit, or whatever, go ahead. You can start relaxing a little later on the next novel. If you’re a writer a heart, there will be a next one. It’s an addiction. You don’t have a deadline looming, but some people need that. Some people need pressure.

 deadlines

After you finish, well, things get complicated then. I will usually do a quick edit, and I think that’s appropriate for any novel written this quickly. I look for spelling, obvious grammar and punctuation errors, and to make sure I have all the markers for research (or whatever) taken care of. Then the hard part: walk away. I really am serious about this. Walk away and write something else. Get this novel, this story, off your mind. Then you can come back to it for the first revision with a fresh eye. You need a fresh perspective, distance, to catch small plot holes, oversights, and inconsistencies. Yes, you’ll have other people reading to help with that too, but you don’t want them to see the rough versions. You want to show even to those close to you something good, right? Right. To that end, here’s the process (streamlined):

Write Book A, shelf it and write Book B. Shelf Book B and do first revision on Book A. If it hasn’t been enough time for you to really forget, you can skip it and write Book C. Then first revision on Book B. Write a book, second revision Book A. Then you start leapfrogging through writing and revising one book or another.

How long do you revise? “Until it’s done” is the easy answer. Obviously that oversimplifies it. On the first book, make a note of what you’re revising. Some things may be obvious, like checking consistency, plotlines, spelling, punctuation, grammar. Some things you may only learn after you give your first book to an editor. You don’t want to skip this. Even if you have a degree in English, do it at least once, and find someone with references, a history of clients and feedback, and credentials. What did they point out? Add that to your list of things to look for.

Now, what am I doing now that NaNo is over? Well, I finished at 69,700 words, but I know very well that a good portion of that is going to be cut. Why? I skipped ahead and I shouldn’t have. I chose a book for NaNo that picks up where two other books leave off. These two other books are not in the same series, and – here’s the problem – one isn’t written yet. So I’m guessing about 20,000 words can be distilled to next to nothing after I write the missing book. Then of course I have another problem. I don’t want to force people to read ten other books (not kidding) in order to know what happens in this one. Okay, we’ll say six. Same problem applies. Especially when this is a genie book and I am trying very hard to not make it a series. It’s a collection. You can read them in any order. In theory. I don’t want to change that, so I have to make this a standalone novel. That just happens to assume you’re up to date on the happenings in the lives of the characters that come from other books. That means backstory. I really hate doing that.

So what am I doing? Going back to write the novel I should have written before writing this one. Then I’ll finish this one while that one is shelved waiting for revisions. (See how that works?) This novel is shaping up to be a bigger headache than I anticipated, which says a lot. I knew it was going to be difficult before I even started to outline it. I am not going to get started on that outline.

Take the day off, relax, then get back to work. Finish that novel.

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Finished at 40k? Oops.

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Okay, NaNoWriMers should be passing the 40k mark, and hopefully most of you are on the home stretch. There is a peculiar problem I hope is isolated but I’ll bring up anyway: novellas are sometimes complete at less than 50,000 words.

Um, yeah. I got an email with just this problem. Her NaNoWriMo novel is done, finished, complete, and it’s falling about 10k short. Wow. This particular writer has done NaNoWriMo before and she knows some … tricks. She went in and replaced contractions with full words. You know, can’t became can not, won’t became will not, and so on. That’ll only get you so far. There’s actually a lot of contractions in English, so … but there is a limit. And she lengthened some names. That was an act of desperation.

There’s really no way around it, she simply needs to write more and I told her so. I suggested she add a scene or related short story and gave her some writing prompts. Some were outrageous because it was pretty late by that point, but some weren’t bad if I say so myself.

Then it occurred to me, it’s been a long time since I’d been given a writing prompt (and oddly that was during NaNo) but it might help someone out there. The ones I gave her probably wouldn’t, but sometimes a little something to get you going is helpful. If you need a kick start, there are some websites that offer prompts, but I’ll toss a few out there.

  • While two characters are sharing a meal, have one choke. Two options here: the other can debate whether to save their companion, or just immediately do it. Regardless, having your life saved changes people. Perhaps that person knows something of value, or confesses something that shouldn’t be said. A lot can happen when emotions are high.
  • If you have a character with any sort of super human abilities, have them lose those abilities for a short time while some moon crosses the orbit of the closest planet and aligns with the sun…whatever. The overall effect could be comedic or catastrophic.
  • In a world without magic, have a studious character find a book in an old bookshop that appears to be bound in a weird leather. It’s a book about dragons as far as he/she can tell, but it’s written in a language he/she can’t identify. “Look at these drawings of a dissection and dragons in flight. And I think this is supposed to show how they breath fire.” He just picked it up because it was cool. Weird that the owner let it go so cheap when it’s clearly old, but cool. “Probably a hoax. I wonder where I can get it tested…what were you saying?” (Maybe he/she sets it down while they have lunch at a restaurant and it’s left behind. He’d probably be mad about that.)
  • Have you written another book? Different genre is even better. While your characters are out and about, have a chance meeting and ‘guest appearance’ of a character from another book. A description, a few lines, nothing much. Nothing to detract from your current story, just an easter egg. King, Lee, and Tarantino make appearances in their movies…
  • Your character has a day where nothing happens. The boredom is killing him/her. And perhaps anticipation. Is he waiting for something? Is someone supposed to call? Dawn to dusk…nothing. He’s left to his own thoughts, how would those thoughts go?
  • A hang up call sparks paranoia.
  • A dead letter delivered/returned to sender twenty years later.
  • Someone makes a meal to apologize for an argument, but accidentally includes an allergen and the victim ends up in the hospital. Much more to apologize for now.

There are so many possibilities out there, most are probably less specific or twisted. Do a search in your browser for writing prompts and it’ll give you a list of websites for ideas. Pick those that suit your novel and style. Have fun, and get writing.

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