Ah, National Novel Writing Month or as I like to call it: Pull Your Hair Out Month. Yeah, it may be true that some people can muster 50,000 words that month, but it usually comes out smelling and looking a lot like a turn made of word vomit. This isn’t a bad thing, but when they finally go over it at the end they don’t want to touch it because it’s too gross. What they’ve done is wasted an entire month writing a book they don’t like and refuse to rewrite. Well, I say to hell with that! For us OCD writers that need to have a well-manicured manuscript by the time we reach the end, here is you guide to 50,000 or more words and one sexy novel.
The first thing you should do-and the official website mentions this-is work on an outline. You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to brainstorm and have a working outline to apply to your novel when the time comes.
Next, you’ll need to take a moment, kick your feet up outside, let the cool breeze tickle your face, and imagine your movie as though it were on the silver screen. I know, I know… some people might be frowning upon that advice as I type it. In fact, even before this article is released I can feel millions of laser targets pointing between my eyes. Just… hear me out.
The reason I say think about it in movie format is because you are working against a clock in November. You have the whole month, sure, but I’d wager that most of you don’t have the time to waste writing 1,600 words a day much less turn it into a sweet, polished novel by the end of the month. This is where the movie thing comes in, because when you day dream about turning the book into a movie, you are essentially getting the visual things out of the way so that you don’t have to think of it on the fly during the month. Surely you’ll still be thinking about some of the visuals when you get there, but you’ll have at least rid yourself of most of the thinking. The other reason for this is that most people tend to remember movies, and that means if you have a fantasy novel with all kinds of pretty visuals and scenes, you’ll likely remember all of that when it comes time to go through your outline and start writing.
Now that you have that out of the way, you can focus more on descriptions and building characters. You may tell me that you don’t have time to write and build characters and their backgrounds during November. You’d be right, and that’s something you need to start ahead of time, too. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I work on a novel I have an outline for the novel itself but also for each and every character that needs a background. There is nothing against writing these outlines, and when you are done with these outlines, guess what? You now know your characters intimately. Like you know your friends choices before they make them, you will know what your character will do when faced with a difficult choice. Even if it isn’t a difficult choice, you will naturally write them doing exactly what they would do as if they were their own person. Does Amber open the bedroom door or does she climb out the window to take an alternate route? Is she quick witted? Does she dress a certain way? Does she like her men (or women) to have a certain personality? All of these questions can be answered, and in addition to that, all of her dialog will reflect what you know of her.
Finally, you want to practice editing as you go. This is something I really needed to learn to do because I don’t like reading through my book 100 times before I send it to the editor’s chopping block. I want to only have to go through it one or two times, and then be rid of it for a couple weeks. That’s where editing on the fly comes in.
When you edit as you go, you have a more polished novel when you finish. The problem is that editing as you go can take a lot of work. I mean a lot. So you have to practice and get used to it. Take a few months and train yourself to rock at editing while you work (sort of like whistling, but with more blood, sweat, and vodka).
If you build your foundation first, you can easily write your NaNoWriMo novel with ease and also come out with something resembling what you initially expected to write. Now go and enjoy your writing experience!