Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month? In this post we suggest that you don’t quit NaNo and give you tips to help you stay on track.
Don’t Quit NaNo | Week 2 Is Coming
So, what is it about Week 2 of NaNoWriMo that makes so many writers want to give up? Well, let’s think about it. NaNo takes place over four weeks and if you are using a simple three-act structure you’ll be able to divide your book into four parts. If you divide your book into four parts, you’ll write the beginning in Week 1. Week 2 and 3 will take you through the middle, and Week 4 leads you to the end.
Act 1 – Week 1: 12 500 words | Inciting moment to first surprise.
Act 2 – Week 2: 12 500 words | First surprise to second surprise.
Act 2 – Week 3: 12 500 words | Second surprise to third surprise.
Act 3 – Week 4: 12 500 words | Third surprise to the end.
What is a surprise? It is a major plot point that increases the odds and can change or strengthen the story goal.
Download image here: NaNoWriMo Breakdown
But Now, You’re Heading To The Murky Middle
Week 2 is the beginning of the middle. The middle of the novel is hard. It is where you have to deal with all the repercussions and indulgences of the first week. In the first week, there were no rules, but now you are being held accountable for what your characters got up to. You have to deal with the merry mess they created.
You should try to end Week 1 on a surprise or start Week 2 with one. It is the end of the first act and will give you momentum to make it through the next section, which means you will be halfway to the end by next week.
But It’s Crap
That is completely normal too. Hemingway said, ‘the first draft of everything is shit.’ If Hemingway starts with a shitty first draft, you are doing fine. Be careful of the shiny new idea. It usually presents itself around this time. It is not better it only seems easier because you haven’t reached the middle of that story yet.
You Are Not Alone
All writers feel like this when they have to write the middle. (Even the chipper ones.) They have simply learnt that this is the hard part. This is the part where you keep going no matter what.
Stephen King said, ‘Amateurs wait for inspiration. The rest of us get up and go to work.’ It’s time for you to get to work.
Don’t put it off. Eat the frog. If you have made a writing time. Stick to it and once you are done for the day. You are done.
Quitting Becomes A Habit
Finish your stories. Until you reach the end you do not know if it is any good or not. If you finish your story, it is fixable. Steamroll through the first draft. Quitting becomes a habit. That is what makes NaNo so good. Get it down and fix it later. Don’t rewrite until you are done.
If you are stuck, try some of these scene ideas. It is completely normal to feel stuck. You don’t have writer’s block. You just need an idea.
Here are some scene ideas. Adapt according to genre or story.
- Send your characters to the grocery store. Who do they run into? What do they forget?
- Road trip. Where and why are they going? Do they make it?
- They lost______________ and they need to find it. Do they or what do they find instead?
- An unexpected parcel arrives.
- Hostage situation. Either literally or a bad storm prevents them from going somewhere. Who are they stuck with? How do they keep busy?
The Last Word
I hate writing montages in movies. They always create the impression that writing is pretty and easy and as long as you have a vintage typewriter and a good view you’ve got a story. It is usually harder and uglier than that. Think holey bathrobe, messy desk, dirty coffee cups, and a lot of staring at the wall. Just write it. It isn’t easy. It is a job. You either do it or you don’t.
by Mia Botha
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