November is officially upon us, and while many are celebrating all things Mo-vember with facial hair and the like, those within the writing world are taking on a totally different kind of challenge. For November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, where writers are challenged to write 50,000 words during the 30 days of the month. It is the catalyst for many authors newest stories, giving them the motivation to sit down and write with other authors looking for the same goal.
I am taking on my third NaNoWriMo task, and am going to be sharing my progress with you guys each week, along with a tips to overcome particular writing challenges that I find along the way. Having done NaNoWriMo in the past, I feel like I have learned a fair bit on how to balance the challenge with the pressures of adulthood and work, but still make it to the end with all my faculties intact.
We featured some tips on Winning Nano last week, and I have employed them all! I made a plan in the weeks leading up to November 1, despite being a self admitted panster. I never plan out my entire novel like some writers do. I just cant work like that, mainly because as I write my characters take on lives of their own, and go off the path I set for them. But having a solid starting point, at least the first few chapters, and a climax in mind, makes the challenge a lot easier. I made a schedule, choosing to write between 6pm-7pm during the week, and 8pm-9pm on weekends, to ensure that every day, words make it to the page. The number of words isn’t the focus here; I can’t stress that enough in these early stages. Just get words on the page, and you will be surprised how quickly they add up. I have a great support group of other Wattpad authors, where we check in, sprint and cheer each other on. You need this support as the month end comes closer, and you start to panic. Trust me lol. And definitely use the nanowrimo.org site! You can keep track of your word count, add friends, and get a certificate at the end once you’ve won!
My current word count after 4 days: 11,281. I am a little over 1/5 of the way there, and while I know I will probably edit and revise most of these words out, or change them completely, it is just the first draft. Remember, first drafts aren’t meant to be great. They are just meant to be written!
But this week, I am going to talk about the first major challenge I faced when working out the main details of my story….the plot twist!
Planning an Epic Plot Twist
This week, the biggest challenge I found in kicking this particular project off, was my climax. That big, eye widening, jaw dropping twist that leaves readers gasping and screaming at you in frustration. Let’s be honest, its the reaction all writers want. But even though I had a solid idea for the start of my story, and the internal and external conflicts, I just couldn’t seem to nail down a gripping and original climax to turn it all on its head.
So I took to Twitter, sharing my woes. And that turned out to be my saviour, as RS Kovach came to my rescue. Her advice when you can’t think of a gripping highlight?
Take every point of the most cliche, most expecting climax, and turn each one 180 degrees.
Wow. So simple, I literally facepalmed that I hadn’t realized it. So that is exactly what I did.
For me, while I make my chapter break downs and all writing on my laptop (others I know use notebooks or even old typewriters), sometimes I like to plan and plot on good old paper and pencil. I wrote down the aspects of the most expected, most cliche, most groan inducing climax for my story. Everything that any reader might expect to have happen.
Then I flipped it. Each point I made, I tried to think of what would be its polar opposite. Then, would that work for the story? Can I incorporate it seamlessly? Would it still be believable, even if it is a fiction story?
And you know what? Now I am in love with my plot twist. I know I have a long way to go before I reach that point, and who knows, maybe my characters will take their own path and find something new to throw at me, but for now, I am excited to see where this goes.
Check back each week for tips on other challenges I have found during my writing, as well as ones shared within my Nano writers group! Feel free to share your NaNoWriMo progress in the comments, and if you have a problem or challenge you want advice on for Nano, let us know!