Monthly Archives: November 2011

I’ve won NaNoWriMo!

Well, I did it! I wrote 50,000 words in a month. The exact official number is 50,143 words, but you can ignore that completely, because I hand wrote, and also hand counted, and given my propensity for mathematical errors the real number could be anywhere between 45,000 and 55,000 words.

Oddly, I’m not as excited as I thought be. Not even as relieved – though doubtless that will happen tomorrow when I realise I can spend train time reading and free time inanely clicking on refresh on twitter, just like before. Maybe I should have planned some kind of momentous event or at least champagne drinking to celebrate with friends. Well, there’s still time, so let me know.

I’m sure I’ll be musing about NaNoWriMo a fair bit in the next few weeks: why I did it (to prove to myself that I still had it in me to be self-disciplined!), whether I’d do it again (the jury is still out at this point),why I hand write, and what I learned. But for now I wanted to proudly display my winner’s badge:

I even got a winner’s cerificate that I could customise and print, but since I haven’t decided what to call myself or what to name the novel, I won’t add it here just here. It’s pretty fab though – those nice people at NaNoWriMo really have thought of everything. Almost everything. If someone could please design an app to count hand written words (so that you basically just point an iPad at a page), that would be wonderful.

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Techniques for upping your NaNoWriMo word count

The end is in sight. 30th November draws near. How’s your word count doing? Scrabbling around for those extra few words? Here’s some tips I’ve picked up. 


1. Give your character a dilemma. 
That way things can keep going round in a circle, to illustrate said dilemma. Particularly if she’s also indecisive. Like, she wants him but she knows she can’t have him but she really does want him but she really can’t have him but… 
Indecisiveness in general is also good, since you can add things like “oh, I don’t know, I think I’ll have the cheesecake… no, the pumpkin pie. Oh, I don’t know. I’m so terrible at decisions. Help me, oh my hero, to make the right choice.” (You’ll be glad to know nothing like that appears in my novel, but you get the point.)
2. Have your character know something else well, and quote from it frequently.
Maybe she’s a Christian, and keeps using the Bible to make her arguments. Or maybe he’s a West Wing fan, and borrows Aaron Sorkin’s words frequently. (I resisted that particular temptation this time – in fact, it took me till page 133 to mention the West Wing at all, and that’s because I wanted my character to wear a suit and backpack, and didn’t feel like I could do that without a nod at Josh Lyman.)

3. Get your character to speak a foreign language from time to time.
That way, they have to saw everything twice: once in the language, and once in translation. 
4. Use circumlocution.
If he says, “no”, that’s one word. If “he shakes his head no”, that’s five. If he “explains”, that’s one word. Have him “say by way of explanation” instead, and get yourself some extra.
5. Show, don’t tell. 
Yes – at last some sensible writing advice that holds even if you’re not doing NaNoWriMo. What I mean here is this, though: instead of saying, “she was kissing him”, make it last: “she was kissing him, kissing him, kissing him”. If their arguments are going in a circle, show it by making your narration go in a circle too: “And so they were back. Not to Square One exactly, more like the “go” square on the Monopoly board, they went round and round and they kept ending up in the same places, and round and round, but each time was different as well as familiar”. There’s a sneak preview into mine. 
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