Monday, 24 November 2014

NaNo Talk: The End Is Nigh

November is known around the world as National Novel Writing Month, a time of the year when hundreds and thousands of people try to get 50,000 words down on paper in just thirty days. There’s something quite compelling about it and once you’ve taken part once it has a habit of drawing you back in, year after year.

This year while I’m taking part I’m also sharing some of my thoughts on the various stages of the month.

By the end of the day today you should have less than 10,000 words to go to hit 50k. Are you proud of yourself? You should be. Even if you’re not quite where you would’ve hoped to be, look at how many words you’ve written. Give yourself a pat on the back. Now write a few more. ;-)

Just think. This time next week NaNo will be over. Will you be returning to the pre-NaNo non-writing craziness? Will you keep pounding on the keyboard, determined to finish this first draft? Are you going to dive straight into editing? Or would you rather put the whole thing away somewhere and not look at it again for a very long time?

However you’re finding NaNo, you’ve done a good job to get this far. Now it’s time to start thinking about the end.

Do you know how you’re going to finish things? You might’ve had the end in sight since somewhere around about the middle of September when your novel jumped into your mind almost fully formed, or perhaps you’ve been just one step behind the next bit of action since you put pen to paper and what’s going to happen on Saturday is still a mystery to you.

Don’t forget that to get your purple winner’s bar and goodies on the site you need to validate your novel. Don’t worry about the site stealing your words, their word counting computer doesn’t read anything; it chomps up your words and spits out a nice shiny number at the other side. Hopefully it’ll say Winner and come with a pretty certificate for you to print out and show off.

Don’t be alarmed if their word count is slightly different from yours. Different word counters count things differently. If you’re lucky you might find the NaNo fairies have granted you some extra words that you didn’t know you had. If you’re unlucky, they might eat a few of them without giving you any credit for them.

This is why it’s always good to give yourself a bit of a buffer. Why don’t you write that buffer right now? Have two of your characters get into an argument or find something on the floor, a hundred words should do it and then you’ll be a little bit more covered when it comes to validation.

It’s also a good time to check out all the nice shiny winners goodies on offer on the site this year. You’ll be able to apply for a proof copy of your novel (someday I’ll actually apply for one of those) and also get discount codes for writing software like Scrivener.

When you win, remember to go and celebrate on the boards as well. You’ve been taking part in this crazy challenge with hundreds of other people. You’re not alone. They’re having a party over there. Why don’t you go and join in?

You never know, you might get an idea for next year’s NaNo. ;-)

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