November is a crazy month for writers not just because of midterms, Thanksgiving, and other seasonal preparations, but also because of writing. Do I care to elaborate?
NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is held every November. Writers from around the world participate in a challenge of attempting to write a novel, 50,000 words, in merely 30 days. As a lot of you readers may be Wrimos, the last sentence is probably a recurring statement that sets off an alarm inside your mind, tempting you to panic. So, by all means, panic. Writing a whole novel in one month is only for the ambitious and the crazy and if there is anyone who has a legit excuse to panic, it’s the ambitious, crazy writers.
I wrote a post on writing tips for NaNoWriMo specifically, but I want to focus more on helping out the word-faint at heart. Below are some tips on how to reach the goal of 50K words. As a warning, most of these tips are not serious, so please don’t take all of them to heart. Some of them, however, may be seriously considered.
1) Embrace the plot bunnies. Want to know how J. K. Rowling wrote a best-selling YA novel that was 700 pages long? Well now you do. There was a gorgeous number of subplots that seemed, if anything, unnecessary to the main storyline. But while you type out all those wonderfully wordy plot bunnies into your novel, try for a challenge and have them all tie in together at the end.
2) Your characters should say “um” and “like” more. I mean, like, be realistic. Um, you see how, er, these sentences could like seriously be cut down to be, like, less wordy? Well, uh, pretty much everyone talks like this, so, yeah, like, be realistic and have your characters, like particularly the modern teenagers, like, stutter like this a lot. So, um, yeah.
Lengthy, pointless dialogue happens in the real world too. And having constantly confused characters who happen to stutter a lot helps.
3) Come up with backstories and tales. In The Name of the Wind, several chapters were nothing but the stories that were told by a storyteller, and I still don’t know exactly what the stories had to do with the base plot of the novel, except for helping with the worldbuilding. Yet another way is to write lengthy backstories explaining what happens in the story. These are oh, so incredibly helpful, and I’ve done such before without even trying to hit any word count.
4) Write the same story from all the different characters’ perspectives. That should definitely do the trick and you may find that it can be used as a unique technique. Basically, you’re telling the same story over and over again. Fairly simple. And you get to learn more about your characters and explore them deeper at the same time.
5) Elaborate explanations to the point you might go crazy. Even explanations that seem so ridiculous and besides the point. You could easily just write them as the rambling thoughts of a character who likes to speak their mind:
By the way, if you think about it even a little bit, you’ll come to realize that the term “living room” is really a silly name for a particular room in a singular residence, given that, assuming that one spends any time at all in a room and performs any activity in that room with the exception of keeling over and dying on the spot, any room in a residence can be appropriately referred to as the “living room”. – From the post on Scary-Crayon
6) Give all your characters wordy epithets. Hiccup-the-Not-So-Bold-Who-Actually-Did-Kill-A-Dragon-And-Tame-One. How’s that for an example of a non-existent one.
7) Go overboard with detail. Go crazy with the detail and description. Write the detail so well you can start to taste, touch, feel, or hear the subject of detail. Describe the color yellow, what it stands for, where you find it, how it makes people feel (such freewriting could lead to some very interesting thoughts).
8) Don’t be simple. Do the opposite. This goes hand in hand with #6.
“The driver of the speeding truck lost control and crashed into the brick wall,” write, “In truth, the reality of the situation was that the truck driver was driving much too fast — exceeding the speed limit on that particular stretch of road by more than a few miles, in fact — and, as a result, lost control of his vehicle and collided head-on with a brick wall that was inconveniently (for him) located on the side of the road.” – From the post on Scary-Crayon
Hey, look. I don’t know about you, but I was actually able to visualize that action better with the second sentence. And you have more words. Double bonus.
9) Address your reader. Switch to second person once in a while …
“And now, of course, dear reader, I can just imagine what must be going through your poor little mind, in which where I can only fathom that all the thoughts the story has thus far stored in there, were moving about, trying to find some conceivable line to catch onto and organize themselves. For this is the only reason that I pause my narrative: to allow you, my reader, whom I must inform of the honor I have in that you have read my story, to take a deep breath. To think over the things that have happened thus far before once more plunging into the tale once again. May I forewarn you before plunging in headlong that the plot only thickens.” – Yours Truly
So there you have it. Perhaps some of these were genuinely helpful, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t the case: the original plan was to write a sarcastic post on NaNoWriMo, because it may seem ridiculous that there’s no way anyone can tell you’ve cheated on your NaNo novel and ended up writing not a story, but a dictionary, a nonsensical rambling of every word you know, or a collaboration of whatever pops into your head to write.
So, adhere to this advice: Don’t cheat. Write your NaNo novel and do your best while you’re at it. You don’t want all that prepping to go to waste (you have prepped, I hope?). Try not to be too wordy, unless it’s November 29th and you’re nowhere near your goal. What are your survival tips to win NaNo? I’d love to hear of your techniques; we crazy Wrimos need all the help we can get.
Summed up? Best of luck to all you Wrimos and non-Wrimos alike. Good writing to you.