If you've decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month, I salute you! If you need a writing buddy, you can find me under LG OConnor. Just drop me a line to say “Hi” 🙂
I'm about to embark on my third NaNoWriMo. Yikes! For the last two years, I've followed this advice with good results. I hope it saves my bacon again this year. So, take what you think might help you, and leave the rest…
- Outline – I’m a pantser, so when I say ‘outline’, I’m talking 2-3 pages, not some maniacal twenty page tome. Have a basic story arc. Ideally, have it ready before November 1st. Uh, yeah, that didn’t happen last year until the end of the first week of NaNo. Because, uh, I switched novels midstream, and dove into a story that didn't exist the week before.
- At least know your two main characters – After spending a full day meditating on “Who is <sexy male main character>?” I had an answer and was ready to go.
- Pick a familiar setting – You won’t have time to research, so pick a setting you know. Do all your base research in October, and then put notes and placeholders in areas where you need more.
- Liberal use of the word ZIBBIT – Thanks to one of the NaNo participant’s posts two years ago, I latched onto this brilliant use of a made up word for places I needed to come back to. Use FIND to pull up all instances when you are finally ready to edit.
- I ignore the ‘no edit’ rule in favor of the ‘light edit' rule – This works for me, it may not work for you. I reread every scene 4-5 times before I move on to write the next one. If I’m stuck, I can usually ‘unstick’ myself as I reread it and solve for gaps. Otherwise, I resign to finish those parts later. My personal goal is 50K good words, not perfect, only good.
- Write the scenes burning a hole in your head – Momentum happens when you’re excited about what you’re writing. If a chapter or scene leaves you dry, move on.
- Scene writing – This is the most important rule I have. I follow very simple scene writing rules. You know that phrase, ‘skip the boring parts’?
- I start every chapter ‘in medius res’ with some sort of action or dialogue
- Infuse it was a specific goal
- Add tension / conflict
- End on a hook
- Keep each chapter under 1500 words
- Experience is your friend – Last year’s NaNo novel was my fourth book, so I kind of knew the drill. It helps. Trust me. If this is your first novel ever, leave your fear at the door, see RULE #6 & #7, even if they don't cleanly fit together. Just know editing is part of the writing process, and you can always edit something as long as it's on the page. Anyone who just writes a first draft and thinks their masterpiece is done is delusional. It's a pile of horse dung, they just haven't realized it yet. Guess what? Used correctly, horse dung can be used to create a lush garden.
- Don’t stop to second guess yourself, just write – If it’s on the page, it can be edited.
- Take breaks – You can accomplish a lot in even 15 minutes. I tend to write in 45 minute chunks before work, and then in one- and two-hour increments with breaks in between on weekends. If you’re stuck, get up and take a break. Walking the dogs helped me jell my ideas and move on when I return.
Your turn: So what did you do that worked? I’d love to compare notes.
In addition to being the author of an Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance series, The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, and her upcoming Romantic Women's Fiction novel, Caught Up in RAINE (2013 NaNoWriMo novel), L.G. O’Connor is an executive at a Fortune 250 and holds an MBA in Marketing. For more of her blog posts, subscribe to her blog at www.lgoconnor.com. For perks and other ‘bookish’ things, subscribe to her newsletter on her homepage at www.lgoconnor.com
Check out her books on Amazon by clicking HERE, or any of your favorite indie or traditional retailers.