So it’s NaNoWriMo time again. Every November writers all over the world clack away at their kekyboards to complete the first draft of a 50k word novel in one month.
Are you in?
How do you feel? Excited? Afraid? Wondering how you can possibly average 1667 words a day?
All of the above?
Good. Because writing should give you the stomach flutters. That’s how you know you’re engaged and connected. The really good stuff only bubbles up when you are writing out on a limb. You want to push yourself forward, reach for heights you haven’t reached before.
NaNoWriMo is that reaching up on steroids. It’s fun and always a great discipline, even if you come up short of the 50k mark.
Now, just as in the normal writing world there are those who like to wing it with practically no planning at all, and those who want to have at least a roadmap before starting the journey. The great thing about NaNo is it’s for any style of writer.
Today, I want to offer a couple of tips for that fearful moment when you’re 10 – 20k in and you have absolutely no idea what to write next.
One tip was in my recent post about asking what the bad guy’s doing. If you’re stuck in the middle, take half an hour to think about what your antagonist is up to off stage. Have him planning his next few moves. Then go back to your protagonist who will feel the permutations of those moves.
The other tip I have for you when you get stuck is to do a variation of Raymond Chandler’s advice about bringing in a guy with a gun.
Yep, introduce a new character.
But what character? How do you choose?
Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Open up a dictionary at random. Find a noun. What kind of person pops into your head who you would associate with that noun?
- Spin the Writer Igniter. You can also use this cool app to choose a scene, a prop, or a situation.
Now you’ve got a new character ready to enter the fray. Before he or she does, ask yourself how this character will complicate the lead character’s life. Hopefully, you know enough about writing a novel that your Lead is facing a matter that feels like life and death–– physically or professionally or psychologically.
This new character will be the carrier of a subplot. A subplot needs to intersect with the main plot in some significant way––and a way that complicates matters for the Lead.
A new character like this is good for another 5k words at least
Bada-bing! You’ve added to your NaNo word count.
But what if you’re in the final act of your book? The hard part, where you have to figure out how to tie up the loose ends?
Add another character! A loose-ends tier-upper!
But won’t that seem out of the blue? A Deus ex machina?
Not if you go back to Act 1, or the first part of Act 2, and introduce the character there. You’re the writer, remember? You can go back in time in your own book!
This exercise works for NaNo, but also for any novel where you feel that long middle is starting to sag.
Introducing one complicating character gives you lots of plot possibilities. And I love plot possibilities.
So are you planning to NaNo this year? Have you got your idea yet? Or are you going to just wing it that first day?
And just in time for NaNoWriMo, my interactive coaching program, Knockout Novel, is $10 off through November…and you own it for life. You can use it to help you plot all your novels (as our recent bestselling guest attests).