Having done NaNoWriMo five different times over the course of seven years, I have tried a lot of different ways to reach that 50k and finish my novels.
When I first started, back in 2011, I had no idea what I was doing. All I had was a vague idea and theme that I wanted to work with, a simple sketch in my head of my main two characters. For some people, that works.
I’m not one of those people.
I gave up halfway through the month at around 25k. The next year, I went in wanting to rewrite what I had written in 2011 and actually finish it. However, I didn’t think it through beyond that.
I ended that year with about 33k.
It wasn’t until 2013 that I actually won. Using a basic plot chart-– the type I was given in my English class for analyzing novels– I created a simple story structure for a dystopian YA novel. Most of the book was planned out, except the ending. Luckily, I managed to write 52k…. and then never write the ending. In 2015, I tried to rewrite the dystopian and hopefully finish it. But because I was lazy I never actually thought out the ending and stopped once I reached 55k. That same issue happened when I started a new YA contemporary book in 2017. I got through two acts, and while I had a vague outline for the third act, I still wasn’t able to finish it.
So that brings me to this year and my current method.
I got the idea for my current WIP in July, and began outlining and planning over the summer. I used the 3 Act/9 Block/27 Chapter Structure. If you haven’t heard of it (like I hadn’t), I highly recommend watching Katytastic’s video on it!
This time, I left nothing up to change. Every chapter had a distinct goal, and for all of Act I, I split each chapter into 3 scenes that each had a goal. I later changed up the scenes and how they fell, but it definitely helped to keep my momentum.
By October, I started writing (I know it was early, please don’t kill me). I began on October 9th, and tracked my progress using the Goal Trackers on the NaNo site.
My original goal was to write 20k in October, then 50k in November, and finish the rough draft with 70k. It was a little short for a YA fantasy, but I would be able to fix that in editing.
By November 1st, I had 35k.
My first act alone was 30k, meaning if the other acts are that long, I’ll have around a 90k draft.
I was hoping to use NaNoWriMo to keep me motivated to continue writing through until I finish this book, but now it’s looking like I won’t be done by the end of NaNo.
My current plan is:
- Write 35k in October (Check!)
- Write an additional 50k in November
- Write 1-5k in December to finish the draft!
I’m almost at the end of Act II, with 53k words and only about 2.5 chapters left. I’ll probably either just hit 30k for this act, or fall short by a couple thousand words. If all goes well, I’ll be finishing this book by December 1st or 2nd.
And then it’s time for revisions.
How do you plan for NaNoWriMo? Do you religiously outline, or pants it?
Also, add me as a writing buddy!