A guide to writing the first draft of a novel in just 30 days. This part will focus on finishing and what to do next.
You might think that the biggest difficulty in finishing your 30 day novel will be hitting the 50,000 words but actually the trouble is more likely to be running out of story before you run out of words or running out of words and month before you run out of story.
With a week or so to go if your story is on an epic scale and you didnt take my advice to increase your daily word target then you could be in a lot of trouble. There are two routes you can take. Either you skim over some of the scenes between where you are and your ending or you spend next month writing too.
If you are going to skim then don’t try to skip the scenes all together. It’s better to simply sketch them in. Come up with a rough description of the sequence of events along with any details that spring to mind. Try not to get too caught up in the story. Remember that you can write yourself notes in the text and these will count towards your total. Your job is to race to the finish You are trying to reach those precious words ‘the end’ before the end of the month. If you make it with time to spare then you can always go back and embellish those scenes that you skimmed over earlier.
If you are going to continue in to the next month (which I don’t recommend) then you need to conserve your strength. Not for you the terrified sprint for the finish line. Unlike the others you can’t simply collapse into the arms of your support team because you are going to continue to try the patience of your support team by writing into next month.
I don’t recommend this course of action because it’s hard enough to maintain the momentum for one month, let alone two and if you are writing in November then this means trying to concentrate on your Novel through Christmas and the New Year.
Of course there’s always the opposite problem…
If you run out of story with 10,000 or more words to go then you need to stop and think. If you are less than 10,000 words short then you probably only need to go back and stick in some extra dialog and description and perhaps a couple of extra scenes. If you are more than 10,000 short then you need to ask yourself if you’ve missed vital parts out or if what you have written is a short novel or novella?
There’s nothing wrong with a short novel. Animal Farm is only 25,000 words, just half the target for NaNoWriMo, but it’s still great book. If you do have a short Novel then I suggest you use the rest of he month to start something new. You already have momentum. You are in the writing groove and you may as well go for it. I suggest that if you do write something else that it’s something linked to what you’ve just finished. That way you can make use of the work you’ve already done
If you’ve reached your target then you are bound to be feeling at least a little euphoric and when you are feeling euphoric you are bound to make poor decisions. So please promise me now that you will not make any hasty decisions about your novel.
Please don’t delete the thing, no matter how bad you think it is, there is bound to be something worthwhile. And please, I beg you, stand up right now and swear on your honor as a writer that you will not simply print the thing off and send it to an Agent or Publisher.
What you have is a first draft. In common with all first drafts some parts of it will suck and some will be pretty cool. It’s not ready for other people yet. It’s not even ready for you yet. So put it away for a couple of months and then look at it. Once you’ve had a couple of months away from it you’ll be able to be bit more objective. Then begins the long task of editing the thing. Which will probably take about a year. Or tere’s always NaNoEdMo, 50 hours of editing in 30 days. But that’s a tale for another day.