Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaNoWriMo: That Dream Within a Dream...

This month we’ve looked at The Princess Bride as an analogy for writing and NaNo. We learned not to listen to our Inner Fred Savage, to keep the faith even when it seems like our plot and our love for noveling has been killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts, to climb to the top of the Cliffs of Insanity, and to turn those random plot devices into Something Big.

Now, when I started doing these Princess Bride talks, I’m sure many of you wondered when I’d get to the Impressive Clergyman. I’ve purposely been keeping you in suspense, but now it’s time. After all… Novels are what bring us together today... That blessed arrangement, that dream with a dream.

Whether you wrote 50,000 words or 5,000 words, you have touched that dream. You took something that was inside of you and chose to share it with others. You stretched yourself, reaching for more than you thought you were capable of. The most amazing thing about National Novel Writing Month is not the novel you’ve written, but what it has done to your concept of possible versus impossible. You are capable of Big Things—we all are.

If your word count is somewhere in the 30s or even the 20s and you’ve already written this year off, think about this for a minute. 30,000 words in four weeks? That’s pretty incredible. Who’s to say you can’t push on and do another 20K in four days? People do it every year. Stretch yourself some more. You might reach 50K, you might not. Either way, you still will have written more than you thought possible 24 hours ago.

To do this, you might try taking a piece of advice from Prince Humperdink: Skip to the end. If you’re like many writers, you’ve discovered that your novel will take more than 50,000 words to tell. You’re probably somewhere in the middle section and you haven’t gotten to “the good stuff” yet. So skip to the end. Write a few paragraphs to sketch out what happens in the middle if you want (it does help the word count…), and then go straight to your climax. Draw out those awesome scenes as much as you want. Milk them for every word they have.

I have one more piece of advice for you: Love your novel. Love the whole experience. This is what matters in the end. And when December comes and another NaNoWriMo ends, we’ll all be able to say one thing: There were five months in the course of my life that I have labeled the most amazing, the most insane. This one surpassed them all.

PS: If you haven't heard, my 2008 NaNo novel, his Good Opinion, is now available for sale!