National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is here! The challenge -- writing 50,000 words of a single novel in the 30 days of November. This annual challenge has helped a lot of people jump start a new project or finish one that’s been languishing. To meet the challenge, authors have to force themselves to draft their story quickly.
In honor of it being 2013, here are 13 tips to help with fast drafting:
1. Have a place to start. It’s okay if this changes later on. The point is to get the bones of the story down. So if halfway through you realize the story will have to start earlier or later, that’s fine. Don’t worry about it for the moment. The most important thing is to get started and having a place to begin will keep you from staring at a blank screen for a week
2. Have a place to end. It helps immensely having a vague idea of how the story is going to finish. For us Romance authors, we know the book will end with the couple together, but developing an idea of how they might do that is good. It gives you something to write toward.
3. Have some general idea of how you might get from 1 to 2. If you’re a plotter, you’ll have these first three steps sorted with your outline—something you should do in October in preparation for NaNo. But even if you’re a pantser, it’s im-portant to have at least some idea of how you’d like the story to develop. You don’t need to be exact or even very specific if you like to go with the flow of the writing, but you do need a general place to start, a place to finish, and some vague plan for how to get from 1 to 2 to keep from getting side-tracked. But whether you’re a pantser or plotter…
4. Don’t fear deviations. If the story takes you on an unexpected path, that’s okay, just make sure you can see your ending from that path. Some of those detours are your muse giving you a nudge in a really cool direction. Along with this point…
5. Don’t worry if the ending changes. Sometimes, as you write and get to know your characters, you realize the ending has to be different from the idea you originally had. That’s okay too! Just write toward that new ending. Don’t panic or try to force yourself to stay true to the original path. In the end, everything can be fixed or changed.
6. Don’t fuss over the details. Fast drafting is about getting the story from your head to the page as quickly as possible. You can fill in the details later. But if a detail slips in that you didn’t anticipate, leave it. Again, your muse could be telling you something. If it doesn’t work, it can be edited out.
7. Do NOT edit. This is the hardest part of fast drafting, the thing that catches people out more often than anything else when it comes to finishing a story. Do NOT go back and edit if you can at all help it. If you’ve forgotten something, make a note of where it needs to be and keep writing. If you’ve missed an entire scene, and you know where it belongs, you can go back and add it, but don’t edit around it! You can smooth transi-tions later.
8. Don’t worry about craft. Like the previous two points, this will keep you moving when you’re tempted to slow down and fiddle with things. Don’t worry about clichéd writing, missing dialogue tags, bad dialogue, silly descriptions, whatever. The crafting of the prose happens during the edits.
9. Focus on your characters. Knowing your characters and how they might react in a given situation will keep you going when all else fails. You’ll get to know them more as the story progresses too, and this might mean you’ll have to fix things in the begin-ning, but DON’T go back and do that until the story is finished. At ―The End‖ you’ll know your characters so well it’ll be easier to fix the opening anyway.
10. When you’re not writing, mull over the next scene. Take advantage of non-writing time to think about what will happen next so that when you come to the page, you can jump right back into the story without staring in frustration at the screen for half your writing time. Also, keep a notebook (or notebook app) handy in case you have inspira-tion while you’re away from your book.
11. Just keep typing/writing. Even if you think what you’re writing is rubbish and you’ll have to cut it later, you never know what might come out of that rubbish. Keep your hands on the keyboard or your pen on the page and just keep slogging through. Eventually, your brain will click into the story and the writing will start to flow.
12. Only re-read enough to get back into the story for fresh writing. Don’t go back and re-read most of the book. There is too much temptation to edit when you do that. Just go back a page or a few paragraphs, enough to get you back into the flow. Then start writing again.
13. And finally HAVE FUN!! The more fun you’re having, the faster you’ll write. The story will get away from you and before you know it, you’ll have a finished book. You’ll be excited every time you sit down to write. And if you’re more interested in working on your own book than losing yourself in anyone else’s fiction, you are on the right track!
Good luck to everyone who’s taking the NaNoWriMo challenge! Happy Writing. May your muse cooperate to make it an exciting and fun month of fast drafting. With a little effort, you’ll have a book—or most of a book—finished come December 1st.♥
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Isabo Kelly fast drafts all her stories. This does mean she has to go back and edit a lot, but in the meantime, she has a lot of fun. Isabo’s latest story is a paranormal hockey romance novella called "Casting the Die" in the anthology GOING ALL IN. And yes, she wrote the first draft of the story very quickly. For more on Isabo and her books, visit her at www.isabokelly.com, follow her on Twitter @IsaboKelly or friend her on Facebook www.facebook.com/IsaboKelly.