NaNoWriMo Day 17: Get to the Point!


Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiResWe're just past the halfway point of the NaNo. How is everyone doing? Feeling the burn? Gotten that second wind yet? We hope so. William Tiernan's blog coverage of NaNo continues, let's see how he's doing...

Many things get put on hold during NaNoWriMo, like dishes and showering and sleep. But reading shouldn’t be one of them. Reading recharges the writing battery. Accomplished authors are accomplished for a reason. Entering their worlds offers fresh perspective on vocabulary, conventions, point of view, plotting, character development, suspense, and so on. There are many gems to mine.

Because my NaNo’s a YA novel, this month I’m mining for one gem in particular: momentum. So I’m reading John Green’s Looking for Alaska, a recommendation from a literary agent as an example of a perfectly paced YA novel. Good recommendation. It’s not an “action” book, but each hard-hitting sequence drives the plot forward at a relentless pace. No stage directions.  No superfluous character traits. No tedious information drops. Just sustained momentum. (And great writing.) I’ve been amazed (and inspired) by how much happens on each page.

I’m trying to reproduce “Alaska’s” momentum in my NaNo. Every time I start to get bogged down I say to myself: Get to the point and move on. (If I’m able to successfully “move on” I reward myself with a Reese’s or a Corona, depending on the time of day, and then keep moving on.) The strategy seems to be paying off. My NaNo’s a sequel to a YA book I spent a year writing. And so far I’m liking the NaNo better. (So much for a writing process of endless editing and rewriting and no alcohol). I may think differently come December 1, but still, it feels good to just write. And write fast. I remember reading somewhere that Stephen King writes his novels in about three months. Considering their average length, maybe there’s something to be said for the expeditiousness of NaNoWriMo. No matter what genre you’re working on this month, focusing on momentum and pacing might get you to the finish not just faster, but better.

Coincidentally, Alaska’s title character offers an interesting take on reaching the finish line – on the nostalgia of imagining the future as she calls it: “You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” Hmmm? If the future is 50,000 words, and the labyrinth is your NaNo, then maybe there’s only one way out: Get to the point and move on!

NaNo questions for this week: What are you reading this month? What authors do you look to for writing gems? What gems are you incorporating into your NaNo?

NaNo word count: 22,576. Still behind, but gaining momentum.


WilliamSTiernan William Scott Tiernan will happily respond to “William” or “Scott” or “Tsung Chi” — and he enjoyed being called “Mr. T” by his former middle school students. He doesn’t enjoy being called “Hey, you!” by his 3-year-old daughter. He may be 0-1 on NaNo, but he’s written for
YourTango, The Laurel of Asheville, Western North Carolina Parent, and of course, WEbook. He’s seeking representation for his YA novel, Dornoch Walking.


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  1. I've never really thought about the "gems" I look for before. I'm reading a book by the screenwriter Tonya Hurley, and I have just finished reading a book by Charlaine Harris (more famous for her Sookie Stackhouse books). I don't think I've actually found any gems with their books.
    I have a bad habit of reading just to relax because I enjoy learning about other people's experiences, especially if they're not real. I don't analyze the books I read or anything. The plots occasionally help me to further my own plot along or to make my plot better, and that's usually the most that I get from a book.
    My word count is 31,140, by the way. I'm just a little bit ahead of schedule, but I've been busy (and will be busier). I suppose that I'll get behind at some point.

  2. Anything by the late Hunter S. Thompson fuels (and refuels) me, no matter how many times I’ve read it. I tend to let the writer in me overpower the speaking voices of my characters and Thompson’s works always cut to the bone on dialogue. Sometimes I have people read my work out loud to me too, and I watch them. If they appear tired, or in a rush to get a chapter over with - I know I have a momentum problem - even if it’s not apparent when read to myself.
    Children are brutally honest too, especially teens - so sometimes I’ll ask my 16 year old to read a page. If he acts like it’s a punishment, I try to pick up the pace. If he continues to read on after he’s reached the end - I know I’m rolling right along fine.

  3. Sage advise WordsAndMusic. I also use my teens for the purpose of gauging my potential audience. My 17 year old daughter is generally enthusiastic about whatever I write. She speaks her mind, but gingerly. On the other hand, my 19 year old daughter is no holds barred honest with me. Her critiques are wholly unbridled, without a hint of fluff or 'feel good' assessments.
    Still, when writing like fury, with a full time job to hold down, I try not to concern myself with too much editing as I go. This is my first nanowrimo, but they say that's what December is for, so I'm working on those terms.
    Best of luck to all participants. As for me, I'm having a blast with it.

  4. Good points guys. Geez you're all way too disciplined.
    Awesome job and keep up the good work.
    I'm still WAAYY behind (13k words atm). I'm trying to spend some time every night or early day but weekdays are just too draining for me to be productive. So I will just have to dish out my pro type-don't-think skillz for the weekend (only two remaining) WOOT! O Yeah and not to mention, Thanksgiving. Hopefully at even 900 words/hr i might be able to catch up.
    Hopefully. :D


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