The Finish Line is In Sight

NaNoWriMo #4I have a NaNoWriMo confession to make: I didn’t write for most of Week 1. Instead, I watched every episode of Once Upon a Time and fought with my novel’s protagonist. When I finally started writing in earnest during Week 2, I was well behind my nemeses (word count rivals), and my plot wasn’t moving.

One evening, while in the NYC NaNo chat room, I explained the problem: my main characters were too amenable. They were too forgiving of each other, too open, too forthcoming with information. It was going to be a very short novel if they resolved all of their conflict in the first 15,000 words! The first suggestion for shaking things up in a NaNoNovel is always the same: Kill someone off. At that point, I didn’t even have enough characters in play to strike one dead. Then, I received the most obvious advice: Just let them be. Allowing the main characters to develop as they would left room for more external conflict to arise. And arise, it did – an interfering mother, a villainous cousin, a stolen painting, a secret tower, and more!

Despite my characters developing completely different personalities than I’d planned on, they still managed to hit the main plot points in the outline. The story flowed, and for the first time I was able to jump around and write scenes out of order. Halfway through the month, I outlined the scenes that would take me to the end of the story, and I plan to write “The End” before Thanksgiving.

Remember to give yourself credit where credit’s due. How have you surprised yourself this month? What did you learn about yourself? How have you changed since November 1st? Whether this is your first time participating in NaNoWriMo or your tenth (as it is for me), just remember that word count is secondary to the experience. Even though I’ve participated many times, I still learn a thing or two, and this year is no exception.

Keep writing, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

— Alexis C

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