You could ask any NaNoer and be told that November’s writing challenge comes and goes. There are incredible moments of writing 3,000 words in one go and moments where it’s an actual battle to get 500 words on the page.
I’ve created this quick and easy NaNo Walkthrough to help you get through those battle-to-500 moments. These six steps can be used in order, mixed and matched to add whatever you need to your story at the given time, or allow to step outside of your current spot in your novel’s timeline to plan ahead, flush out a minor character, or just get your daily word count in!
- When in doubt, start with your setting. Go ahead and spend about 500-1000 words describing the opening scene: where are your characters, what are they seeing and smelling and tasting and touching?
- Next delve into your characters. You can spend about 100 words at least on introducing each character at the beginning of your story. Hair color, eye color, relationship to main character or villain, a quirky trait that about them that your main character either loves or hates. Later on you can write about their reactions to different events, their opinions on their companions or friends, or a flashback to their childhood or adult life.
- You don’t want to get stuck in a description-packed novel, so try to see where you can fit in a bit of action. Set your plot in motion by incorporating the actions or events that light a fire under your character’s ass to get them going forward! Don’t worry, you don’t need to think this through too much, just get your characters back on their journey! Spend at least a day’s worth of words on this.
- You can easily spend two day’s worth of words on more big scenes involving your characters and where they’re going. Develop relationships, help them build trust or lose trust, make amends or alienate people, etc.
- If you’re getting bored with your main characters, or want to change the feel or pace of your story, bring in your villain. Describe their world, their motivations, where they live, who their friends (or minions) are, and why they’re antagonizing the main character (unless your main character is a villain….).
- Develop the backstories of your minor characters. These will end up sprinkled throughout your story, but if you find yourself in a writing bind, or lacking a bit of inspiration, developing backstories, motives, and relationships for your minor characters is a great way to get your word count up while still pushing your story forward.
This guide can be repeated over and over for the bulk of the story. This will help you fill those long stretches between the beginning, the climax, the ending, and all the other easily writeable high points of your novel. This guide will serve as your connections between big events, character epiphanies, and your incredible climax.
Let me know if this helps and what other strategies you’re using to get your daily word count down in the comments!