My 5 Tips To Win NaNoWriMo In The Final Week

Alright fellow NaNoers, which one are you – the tortoise or the hare? We’re staring down the finish line and there’s still plenty of time for you to win NaNoWriMo. The push is on! Remember last week when I gave you my top five tips on how to survive week two? And how I gave them to you after week two was already dead and gone? Yeah, that was super helpful of me, wasn’t it? BUT you’ll have them for next year, right? And check this out, they’re still useful tips no matter where you are in the NaNoverse. Here’s the skinny from last week. I implemented some of those same tips and guess what happened?

I channeled the hare, and instead of taking all those breaks to goof off and take naps, I charged through the race and hit 51,000 words. Ok, so I was dying to tell you that because I know you can do it too. And while I may have hit the word count, I still have two really tricky chapters to figure out yet. They’ve been stumping me all month! The novel draft itself isn’t done, there’s a big ol’ hole right in the middle of it that I’m going to have to Spackle in with a trowel. Specifically, the biggest trowel I can find. That’s ok, because I’ve still got time. Here’s what I can tell you about hitting your word count. Try this:

Don’t write everything in order

If you’re an outline person (I am) and you’ve got a sketch of where things are going, jump around. Stuck in chapter 8? Great! You know the gist of chapter 12 so go there and start hammering those keys. If you know your character’s cheatin’, lyin’, no good daddy’s coming back in the end as a changed man – write the end. If you know your hero’s lover is going to die in chapter 14, write chapter 14. Write it a few times. Count ALL the words. You wrote them in November. You wrote them for this novel. They all count.

Host or attend a write in

Last Thursday, we hosted another write in at the U and in one day, I wrote over 8,000 words. Were they good? No. Were they a Dick and Jane deluxe? Yes. Did I kill off some characters who I knew needed to be killed off? Yes. And on Thursday, I nailed my word count. It was a looooong day, but I’m telling you, I have a great skeleton for how these ‘you are SO going to die, MF’ scenes are going to go. I know how they’ll play out logistically instead of having a vague idea of what could possibly go down.

Stop filling in the details

This is assuming you were filling in the details before. If you were, knock it off. Here’s why – you fill in luxurious details and you’re bound to fall so in love with them that you’ll keep scenes, and sometimes whole chapters, in your book that aren’t working. You’ll hang onto them for way too long because they’re so freakin’ beautiful. I’ve been there. Or there’s that one line that you save in a document on your desktop and you try (in vain) to work it into every single chapter because damn, you were on fire, and if that doesn’t bring a tear to the reader’s eye their heart is made of alabaster! Or worse, the lack of details paralyzed the pen from moving forward. See what these details are doing? They have got you wrapped up in everything but actually writing and moving forward. You have something you specifically want to touch on, make a note to self and move on.

Speaking of notes to self…

Understand that significant portions of your chapters may be filled with them. I have some dandies! Here’s an excerpt just to see how awesome my NaNo draft really is.

The biggest question – what do you want to accomplish in the chapter? A revamp of the tension? Where is it possible to create tension here? Are there any suspicions cast on Miklos? By whom? None at all? Well, that was too easy. If no one suspects him, they have to almost get caught doing some spy stuff like spying and… stuff spies do. Think on those details – but make sure we don’t lose site of the alluring object. If they do their spying biz together, fine, but they can’t get too chummy because…

And that is SMACK in the middle of a paragraph. This is kind of like the freewriting idea I spoke of last week, but when I put it in the middle of a draft I like to refer to it as freewheeling. Ha! But you can see what happens here. While this isn’t meat and potatoes stuff, it’s incredibly helpful for me to go back and answer those questions as I rewrite. Plus, because I took the time and jotted them down, I was able to work through a few hiccups in my head. Which means, I was able to launch into another scene a few sentences later.

5. Sit down and write. Even if it’s notes to self or the same scene from three different POVs. It will help the finished product. Remember all those Rom-Com scenes I had to get out of my system? I wrote them so I could move on, and I did. It was helpful for me to get some of that out of my head so I could let the real story take over again.

Once you’re done with this NaNo Craziness, you’ll go back and revise. You will answer the questions, remove the double/triple/quadruple versions of the same scene, and fill in the details, and guess what? You’ll have well over 50k words even after all that surgery. Remove Nonsense + Beef up the details = Win. The idea of NaNoWriMo is to get all your ideas down.

You can do this! I’m off to chew on those last two tricky chapters and you can bet that I’ll be freewheeling my way through them. Good luck! There’s still time to win NaNoWriMo!

I’ll see you at the finish line,