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Nov 26, 2012

NaNoWriMo Tip #26: Keeping On Track

Shiny idea is trying to hook you! Don't bite! (Or at least don't get reeled in...)

These are my personal tips for NaNoWriMo. You know the drill. Take only what works.

As you write, no matter how detailed your outline, new ideas will occur to you. This is a good thing. The new ideas are often an improvement or refinement, and you should go with your gut.


Sometimes, you need to reign in that impulse and keep on track. So how do you know? Look for these danger signs:

Lure of The Shiny
You find yourself off on a tangent, chasing a new idea that radically changes the direction of the book… not because your original premise was worse, but because the new thing is Shiny. It’s distracted you, like a will-o-the-wisp leading you to your doom in a forest of never finished manuscripts.

Subplot Coup By A Supporting Character
One of your characters, often armed with a subplot, has monopolized your interest, to the peril of the main character and main plot. You need to kick that usurper back to the curb. Or cut a backroom deal by promising him his very own book if he’ll just back off for now.

No End In Sight
If you wrote an outline, you know your ending. But maybe you ignored my advice to know your ending first. Or maybe the ending you planned now strikes you as wrong. Or maybe you still know how the story will end and what you need to do to get there, but the chapters you thought would 2000 words each are turning out to be 7000 words each, so although you’ve won NaNoWriMo already / reached 50,000 words, you’re only Chapter 7 out of 30 chapters.

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!

If any of these warning signs are occurring, step back and assess how you want to move forward. Ask yourself if you really want to pursue the Shiny, include the subplot, change your main character, write a totally different novel, or expand your novel’s length to 210,000 words.

Choose wisely.

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