Your NaNoWriMo Finish

Today’s post will be short and sweet. I have much to be thankful for, and many side dishes to prepare before American Thanksgiving.

Writing Tip for Today: As we near the finish line for this year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), here are a few tips:

Jot Down Issues

By now you likely have sensed that your draft has different problem areas. Too many scenes, not enough scenes, too many characters, not enough tension. Whatever you spot, record it in a way you’ll remember.

Whenever a problem jumps out at you, jot it down. I like to keep a spiral notebook where I can refer back to my questions when I begin revisions. Scribble down your suspicions, ideas for change and anything else you want to remember later. You can be techy and use Scrivener or another program, but I’m old-fashioned.

As you note these things, be sure to include the chapter and approximate page number. I’m always surprised at how much I forget as I’m tearing through a rough draft. You could even identify the character or scene, for easy future reference.

Hopeless Climax!

Whether you’re already past the fifty-thousand-word count or struggling to attain that magic number, write both your “all hope is lost” and climax scenes. You’ll probably rewrite at least part of it, but by drafting these two scenes into your first pass, structural problems in the novel as a whole should be easier to spot upon revisions.

Your “darkest moment” scene should contrast with your climax scene, where your character gives it one last heroic try to attain the story’s overall goal.  Write it in a way that readers will believe that the obstacles (antagonists, bad guys) will keep your character from succeeding. In real life we often give up at this point. Not so in fiction.

Contrast your “darkest moment” scene with your climax scene.

In fiction (or memoir), the climax scene is always one last try. Your character gives his all and then some. Even if the goal isn’t achieved, readers love the character’s determination and the idea that sometimes it’s possible to overcome long odds.

Resolution Can Wait

Your story’s resolution, denouement or ending feels important. Every writer wants to type that “The End” and bask in the feeling of “I did it!” But during NaNoWriMo, I think it’s more important to have the “darkest hour” and climax scenes at least roughed out.

There are only a few (five) possible endings to any story anyway. The character wins the goal and is happy, wins the goal but is not happy; doesn’t win the goal but is happy or unhappy and rarely, doesn’t care either way. The previous two scenes and how they turn out for your character will dictate which ending will satisfy your readers.

By getting down your initial ideas about how these two crucial scenes unfold, the resolution becomes clearer.  “Happy ever after” is not required. Your character may end up “happy for now,” or even happy that he/she failed to attain the goal. And for most of us, happy is the best feeling knowing we’ve conquered NaNoWriMo. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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