Thursday, October 31, 2013

# Guest Blog # NaNoWriMo

No NaNoWriMo Plot? Last Minute Tips

In  honor of National Novel Writing Month, I'll be running a series of posts featuring tips on writing craft and NaNoWriMo strategies straight from the mouths of fellow authors and NaNo participants.

Don't have a plot with NaNo is just hours away? There's still time!  To kick off the month, here's some great advice from 7-time NaNo winner Claxton A. Graham. Take it away, Claxton!

Surviving and Thriving During NaNoWriMo
by Claxton A. Graham

Santa Claus gets kidnapped by a race of alien woman.

Las Vegas gets wiped out by a major earthquake.

And a humble newspaper editor becomes a game show hero.

Welcome to my NaNoWriMo experience.

Seven times between 2004 and 2010, I took up this heart-pounding, brain-stretching challenge. Seven times the official NaNoWriMo word counter declared me a winner. The whole purpose of NaNoWriMo, of course, is to write a 50,000-word story in 30 days. To hit that target requires writing an average of 1,667 words during each of those 30 days. And the only way to reach that mark is to keep writing.

While the more serious of writers may arrive at November 1 with massive outlines and character bibles under the arms, ready to write the first draft of their vision of the Great American Novel, it's not required to succeed at NaNoWriMo. What is required, though, is knowing a little something about the story you want to tell. The five W's of journalism can also apply to succeeding at NaNoWriMo.

1. Who is the star of your story?
Your main character and the supporting players are the lynchpins of your story.

2. What story do you want to tell?
You can find virtually every type of story among the ranks of your fellow writers at NaNoWriMo. There's adventure, romance, horror, disaster, and comedy – sometimes all in the same story.

3. When does your story take place?
A story set against the backdrop of the realistic past can be just as compelling as a story set in the future yet to come.

4. Where does your story take place?
Our world provides a treasure trove of locales in which to set a story. So too does your imagination.

5. Why does your story need to be told?
This is a question that only you, the writer, can answer. And the answers will vary Some will tell their story in hopes of finding a large audience. Others will do it just because it's something they've always wanted to do.

One more thing to keep in mind as you embark on this challenge. When words fail you and you get stuck in a scene, exposition can become your best friend. Never mind that the apple your main character or the hummingbird flitting from branch to branch isn't a key point in your plot. Either one can be worth a couple hundred words if you can write about nothing else, and possibly help you get unstuck.

Above all else, have fun with NaNoWriMo. The people that started NaNoWriMo didn't undertake the challenge to become best-selling authors or internationally famous. They did it for the heck of it, and it grew into what it is today. The word counter isn't the only thin that declares you a winner in this exercise. If you can walk away from it having learned a thing or two, having had some fun in the process, you won.

(Note: for more info on NaNoWriMo, visit

About the Author

Claxton A. Graham is a seven-time NaNoWriMo champion, having completed the challenge every year between 2004 and 2010. His writing experience also includes op-ed, news and sports scripts for radio, commercials for television and radio, and technical specifications for paper and electronic forms. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, and works as a business analyst.

1 comment:

  1. This was such great advice to kick off my month-long writing event! Thanks for being here today to share that wisdom.


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