Week Three: Where are you for NaNoWriMo
You’ve reached the third week of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Guess what? You’re halfway there! Pause for a moment to congratulate yourself. Regardless of word count, you’ve reached the midpoint of this feat. But now let’s talk about that word count for a moment. You need to take stock of where you are so that you know how best to proceed from here. You should be, roughly, around 25,000 words by the time Week 3 kicks off in order to be on-track for making that 50,000 word milestone at the end.
So how are you doing? If you’re over that 25,000 mark, great work! I’d like to tell you it is all downhill from here but we all know those last words won’t write themselves.
If you aren’t quite to 25,000 yet, don’t fret! There is still more than enough time to not only make up lost ground, but to also finish strong.
Ways to push through and make progress on Week 3
Regardless of whether you are ahead, behind, or right on track, you still need to find a way to pump out the words. We’ve covered writing sprints already this month, and those remain one of the more effective ways to churn out a batch of words at a time. Grabbing a few other writing friends to join you on the sprint is a great way to keep everyone motivated to move closer toward that goal of winning NaNoWriMo in 2017.
Another great time comes from the reflections of a previous NaNoWriMo participant: The Writing Kylie in her article Week Three Lessons Learned, she found that reading her outline for the scene/chapter the night before helped her be mentally prepared to write each day. Not only did it place the scene or chapter fresh in her mind, it also allowed her to come up with new ideas or ways to form those scenes by sleeping on it. So if this is something you haven’t tried yet, take the time to prepare in advance at night so that you don’t have to read or refer to the outline in the mornings. Stephanie Ayers touches more on this topic in her fantastic article, “Pantsers vs Planners During NaNoWriMo: How to Plan for Nano Success.“
For Those Whose Story is Nearing its Conclusion
You’ve got a problem: you’re halfway to the 50,000 mark (roughly) and you realize you don’t have nearly enough story to make it to the 50,000 word goal. I can certainly relate – the first draft of my upcoming novel, Monster Huntress, clocked in at around 37,000 words. I had accomplished what I had set out to do and hit upon the key plot points. I had the vital scenes in place. And even across the revisions and the inclusion of over 30,000 new words, the book maintained that same structure.
Writers Write provides some excellent advice for writers to help them hit their word counts, and I’ll echo a few of those here. The most important idea is this: finish. Keep that momentum working in your favor and power through to where you’ve envisioned the conclusion to the story. This should carry you through most, if not all, of this third week and maybe even a little into next week. There is something both freeing and rewarding about reaching the end of a story, even if it leaves you short of the NaNoWriMo goal for November. If nothing else, you’ve set out to accomplish the real goal by finishing the first draft of your book. And that is not an accomplishment to sell short – there are writers who never reach that point.
Once you finish your story, there are a few things to consider doing to reach that secondary goal of hitting the NaNoWriMo 50,000 mark.
- Add subplots to your story. Here is your opportunity to give them side quests, so to speak. After all, anyone who has played a game like Skyrim would tell you that a good portion of time, and fun, is dedicated to exploring quests that have no bearing on the main quest of the game. The same can hold true for your book: while each scene should have a purpose (character development, plot advancement, etc.) there are many minor scenes that can accomplish these and set things in motion to tie in with the big plot line.
- Expand scenes. If you are like me, your action and dialogue in the story tends to be straight-forward on the first draft. There are bits of description peppered in here and there, and maybe a few moments that don’t follow my outline with laser precision, but most of what I write needs to be expanded in order to give it life. Find those scenes in your story and develop them further to make them alive and active.
- Develop description. I’m not telling you to become Robert Jordan with your writing, but take a page from his book (not literally) and utilize description to bring life and variety and conflict into your story. Take, for instance, how he was able to utilize water. Brandon Sanderson remarked in his 10th year commemoration of Robert Jordan, that Jordan taught him how to make the boring parts into interesting parts. Read the wisdom Sanderson gained, check out a few Robert Jordan scenes, and then try to apply that in your own book.
So how are you doing, now that we’re in week three of NaNoWriMo? Hopefully I’ve passed along some sort of advice you can benefit from. You can find more great advice here on Our Write Side, and Heidi Angell offers 5 steps for achieving NaNo Success for more inspiration. Don’t despair. Don’t give up hope in reaching the end. Like Frodo and Samwise, you might feel like you are pushed to your limits as you trek through this final part of your journey. Don’t let the Shadow of doubt corrupt you into accepting failure. You can do this!
Tell us how you’re doing in the comments below!
David Wiley is an author of science fiction and fantasy stories, choosing to write the stories that he would love to read.