November Means NaNo
Posted by Debbie Mumford
…and I don’t mean tiny technology!
November means NaNoWriMo for many writers. If you’re participating, congratulations and good luck! If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here. You might find you want to play along this year and join the fun for real next year!
I’m not a registered participant this year, but I’ve won the challenge several times in the past. My Deb Logan novel, Faery Unexpected, came out of a NaNo experience, as did my Sorcha’s Children novel Dragons’ Choice. It’s a great program and a fabulous way to kick-start a daily writing habit.
If you’re doing the challenge, you’re firmly into your second week, and you may find yourself flailing a bit. “I don’t want to write today” or “I don’t know know what happens next” are frequent complaints as you move toward the middle of the month. In fact, you may be reading this post in silent protest, a rationalization (“I’m finding tips about NaNo”) as a form of procrastination.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you’re here, but here are a few thoughts that may help you disconnect from the Internet and return to your work-in-progress.
First, don’t wait for inspiration. Just start typing and have faith that your muse will show up for work. Much as I love the rush of adrenaline and words that come from an inspired writing session, I’ve discovered that when I read back through my finished draft, I can’t tell which passages were inspired and which were harder than slogging uphill in thigh-deep snow. Get the words on the page. You can revise later, but you can’t edit what you haven’t written.
Not sure where your story should go from here? Try some of these tips:
- Whatever is happening, escalate the challenges your characters are facing. Do that by:
- Deepening the conflict — make it more personal to the character. If your detective is searching for a rapist, let him discover that the victim lives in the same dorm, on the same floor, as the detective’s daughter. Is his little girl on the rapist’s radar?
- Broadening the conflict — give the conflict a wider scope. Maybe your detective is searching for a missing girl and discovers the MO repeated across the city, perhaps across the state. How many girls are missing? Are they still alive? Is this a serial killer or perhaps a white slaver ring? How wide do the ripples of this crime extend?
- You’ve got conflict (Yay!), now be sure you’re varying it! Don’t have your character fight the same battle over and over again, just against different foes. He was in a death-defying battle against a goblin, then he fought an orc and narrowly escaped death, next he was attacked by troll — yawn. Been there. Done that. Here’s a list of types of conflict. See how many you can pack into that middle you ‘re trying not to let sag!
- Man vs Nature — Mother Earth can present some pretty extreme challenges!
- Man vs Man — yep, we all understand that one!
- Man vs Society — Hunger Games, anyone?
- Man vs Self — Is your hero a tortured soul?
- Man vs God — Talk about a powerful adversary…
- Romance — lots of potential conflict there–enough for its own genre, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate a little romantic conflict into your police procedural.
- Avoid quick rescues — this is one I struggle with. I like my characters, but I know I need to toss them into conflict. So I do it. I throw them to the lions … and then immediately pull them out of harm’s way! *whew* Conflict generated, but danger avoided. Bad writer, Debbie! Don’t rescue that character, make the lions hungrier!
Whatever happens, you’ve embarked on a challenging, but rewarding, journey! Go for the win and keep those words flowing. At the very least, you’ll arrive in December with lots of ideas and a habit of writing every day. No matter what 😀