Today is November 1, which for writers everywhere is the official first day of writing 50,000 words. In the words of those who put National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) together: “On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.”
Sure, I value enthusiasm, determination, and deadlines, making me susceptible (once again) to the craze that I’ve been reading about on writing sites and blogs everywhere.
I participated in NaNoWriMo thrice before, in ’10, ’11 and ’12, and all times I’d created novels that wouldn’t otherwise exist if not for this organization. Yes, I have found value and success and hope in the NaNoWriMo experience.
Last week I mentioned that I was in the middle of three various novels, all at different stages, so it’s probably folly for me to embark on number 4 right now.
However, I am swept up in this writing frenzy, and I tend to write with more joy and fervor when I’m surrounded by other insane writers positivity and encouragement.
Rather than start yet another novel, I’m going to use NaNoWriMo as a way of pushing me forward on book number 3.
Currently, it’s in the second draft, which is my least favorite draft to write, and a deadline would help me navigate around the hazards of the construction site which is my third novel.
I’ve done this before–breaking NaNo rules. Back then, if you used NaNo for anything other than pantsing 50,000 words, you had better well do it undercover. But, this year, I’m thinking maybe a lot of writers started using NaNo for all kinds of writing challenges, because I found this really cool NaNo-rebel badge on the site:
I’d like to think that I can be a writing rebel when I’m in the mood. So, let’s just go with that.
I’ve already written 30,000 words for it, so I don’t want to annoy those who haven’t even written their first word by talking about word count. Instead I’ll be focused on structure.
How does one go about meeting a word count challenge through structure?
I talk about this in book 2 of my Writer . . . Uninterrupted series, A Handbook for the Productive Writer. When we need to focus on story (while writing lean and mean), a great way to help us move forward is to set story goals.
-Show the reader your protagonist is terrified of heights in 500 words or less.
-Unveil major secret as part of set up—approximately at a WC total of 10,000.
-Fight scene where protagonist’s trusted ally dies—spans no more than 2,000 total words and cannot occur past WC total of 60,000.
As a reformed pantser, I have begun to appreciate structure and outlines. By outlines, I do not mean the kind I did in middle school with the Roman numerals and one-word phrases that were supposed to mean something. Outlining is brainstorming, which I write about more in-depth here.
My plan is to take my book, page by page, and set story goals along the way, with the ultimate objective of completing my second draft by November 30. This will require more effort and brain power than just raw writing–which is why I will have plenty of caffeine and pizza to carry me through.
If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, I’d love to buddy up with you. Hope to see you there!
Have a writerly day!