Monthly Archives: March 2014

How to win at NaNoWriMo

You could, if you wanted to, copy and paste 50,000 (or your chosen target for this challenge) random letters into the validation tool at the end of the month.

It would give you a win, but you’d really only be cheating yourself.

When I did my first November NaNoWriMo back in 2011 (all those years ago!) I had no idea whether I would be able to do it so I took to the forums and picked up a few tricks.

1. Use long double names for each character.
Names like Fredrick Joe and Sally Marie are great. Have your character insist their full name is used each time.

2. Do not use contractions.
No more “it’s”, “isn’t”, or “don’t”. Make it part of your style for this particular work.

3. Have a character who swears a lot.
If you don’t mind a few curse words that is. Be inventive with them too; imaginative combinations can add humour to the story.

4. Have a character who uses long sentences or finds it hard to get to the point.
This can be great when combined with or instead of the swearing method as it adds the potential for interesting dialogue which can push your work in a new direction.

5. Describe all of the things.
See that chair over there? Describe it. See the way the lamp lights the room? Describe it.

6. Give your character an inner monologue.
This can depend on which POV you’ve chosen but can add an unexpected depth to your character.

7. Copy and paste.
If it’s suitable, you can use a small amount of copy and paste. It gives the novel a groundhog day feel, and can be used to symbolize repetitive behaviour, or a week of mundane existence.

8. Use song lyrics
You’ll need some permissions if you want to use the lyrics in a published novel otherwise you could find yourself in trouble, but your character can certainly be overly appreciative of lyrics in the first draft.

9. Write every day.
The one thing you will notice about NaNoWriMo is that if you miss one day, you’ll very quickly find yourself becoming disheartened by having to find the additional words the following day. Writing every day, even if you don’t meet your wordcount, will get you in the right mindset and stop you falling too far behind.

10. Take five minutes out before doing your daily bit to plan what you’re going to write.
The blank page looks less daunting if you have a vague idea what you want to put there.

11. You are writing a first draft, so don’t worry too much about having additional names, or too much swearing, or big chunks of description. You can cut these in the editing phase if you need to.

12. Write. A lot. As often as you can.

13. It’s not supposed to be a chore.
It is supposed to push you and it is supposed to be hard, but it’s not supposed to give you a breakdown.

14. Be easy on yourself.
If you miss your target, or can’t write because real life has got in the way, that’s ok.

15. Winning isn’t everything
If you get 10,000 words of a story you’ve been trying to find time for, then you’ve won. Get the words down, get them out.

Most importantly, the best way to win NaNoWriMo is to have fun.

On your marks… Get set ….

April 1st, here we come!



As the starting line for the next NaNo draws closer, we get restless.

We want to get started on our next big thing. We want to finish it too, although the reality is that life will get in the way and some of us will have to leave our stories unfinished.

Its scary and exciting, this NaNo thing. When you see that blank page for the first time and think “I have to fill you with 50 thousand words,” that can be a little daunting.

That’s why we have the Lull.

The week or so before a challenge, I stop all novel type activities. Mainly because my head is buzzing so much with new ideas that trying to concentrate on anything ongoing is futile, but also to give myself a chance to step back, reflect, stare at the blank page in a panic and wonder if I have what it takes.

This is the only chance we are going to get to doubt ourselves before we are thrown in and left to swim.

Thing is, you won’t drown. You will write. And even if you only write a few thousand words you wrote something.

That’s what actually counts.

A storyline

As writers, we often have moments of amazing clarity. We can find hope when our characters are at their darkest, we can evoke empathy for an evil soul, we can put together twists which shock even ourselves, so it’s no surprise that from the depths of a void, a storyline can materialise, complete with a subplot.

My normal tactic for a 50k word challenge is to write an emotive, self-absorbed first person monologue about love or loss or being crazy.

This new storyline came to me a couple of mornings ago. I didn’t really know how this was going to go until then. I knew it had to lead into another story, and I didn’t have a clue how it was going to get there but then – BAM – it was there in its entirety.

Oh, yes; there’s love, loss, crazy antics and maybe a little bit of hanky-panky… And dragons.

Yep, dragons.

And a hero who is a bit of a cocky bugger.

And some pissed off Gods.

I’m very excited now.

A month before Camp NaNoWriMo

Less than 30 days until the madness begins again. 

Yes, we are heading far too fast into the insanity of Camp NaNoWriMo once again, with its sleepless nights, nonsensical phrases and epic word sprints.

I cannot wait.

I wrote before about pantsing and plotting and how each writer has their own way of doing things. Similarly, each writer has their own way of writing the story; some jump from scene to scene then figure out the glue later. Others, myself included, write chronologically adding notes to the first or second draft as we go along. How you write will have an effect on how you approach NaNoWriMo.

This year, you are able to set your own goals (like last year) meaning you can use the challenge to get something down, prepare yourself for the main event, or find out where your limits lie.

I’ve decided to prepare, so I’ll be sticking to the 50k. I’ve also made a decision to branch away from my normal mainstream fiction, romance and new adult genres and tackle the first book in a fantasy trilogy which has been slowly churning away for a couple of years. 

Bring it on.