5 Mid-NaNoWriMo Tips

What ho! You’re steaming through NaNoWriMo and are almost to the halfway point. Some of you are plowing ahead, some of you are stuck. Maybe something in between. Wherever you are, here are five tips to give you a fresh jolt of NaNo energy:

1. Go back and add words to previous scenes

One of the best ways to fill out your word count is to go backward. Read quickly through your previous scenes and, where you feel it, write in extra words to flesh out what may be scant. You’ll find a lot of scant. Then get back to the new pages.

2. Have your Lead “look in the mirror”

You’re getting to the midpoint of your novel. This is a crucial spot. In my workshops I teach the “look in the mirror” moment. It’s where your Lead looks at herself, figuratively, and sees that death is on the line (remember, death can be physical, professional or psychological/spiritual). She sees that the odds are she probably won’t make it. In
The Hunger Games, for example, the midpoint is when Katniss reflects that she’s going to die, and very soon. In Casablanca, Rick looks at what he has become (a drunken bastard) and will have to decide, in the second half of the movie, whether he stays that way. It’s a great exercise to find out what your book is really about.

3. Write three “page-long sentences”

A page-long sentence is an exercise I conduct with students, to help them get to the emotional meat of a moment. Find the three most intense sections of your book so far. Now, write a sentence that doesn’t stop (use commas only!) about what is going on inside that character. I find it best to write in first person voice here. Then take the good parts and put them into the scene. Change first person to third person if that’s the POV you’re using.

4. Do one mega day this week

Plan one big, knock down, drag out, mega-writing day if you can. If you’re in the LA area, the “
Great Train Escape” is an awesome deal. But wherever you are, create something similar for yourself. Camp out at a coffee place (but be sure to buy stuff from them every four hours).

5. Write the very, very first thing in the morning

If you’re not doing this already, try to write the first thing in the morning (or, second if you’re brewing your own coffee). Get a “furious 500” words done before anything else. If you have obligations that get in the way of that, try to do 500 extra at night.
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