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NaNoWriMo Tips: Ending Your Story

Welcome to the penultimate post of my NaNoWriMo tips series. For other tips in this series, as well as a schedule for future posts, take a look at the links below. Today’s tip and my discussion of it can be found immediately below the schedule.



It’s so close you can nearly taste it. The sweet smell of victory is less than 48 hours away. You’ve been writing since the beginning of November with one goal in mind — to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. But in addition to that, if you’ve been sticking with a theme running through these posts, you’ve likely spent the better part of a month writing the story that you w

That means that you’re to the two parts of the story that are, in my opinion, the two most difficult parts of the story to write: the climax and the ending. I’ve grouped them both together for purposes of the title of this post, but that’s only because ‘climaxing your story’ sounds more suggestive than it likely is. Unless your NaNoWriMo project is erotica, in which case, more power to you. Climax the hell out of your story.

For most of you1And even those of you writing erotica, I would assume., however, the climax and ending of your book are likely going to be different pieces. Those who strictly follow the five act dramatic structure will recognize that the climax precedes your ending (also known as the denouement), with the falling action in between then. That said, the chart you’ll see describing this structure could lead you to believe that the climax occurs in the middle of the story, with the falling action comprising a good portion of the book leading up to the ending.

In practice, however, the climax, falling action, and denouement can all occur over the final 3-5 chapters of a book. One of my favorite recent reads — An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green — begins its climax2Or at least what I could say is the climax of the book. approximately 91% of the way into the book, with the denouement not beginning until the book was 96% completed3I’m going off of the page numbers and percentages from my Kindle app, so this is a rough estimate.. I’ve read several books in recent years that follow this similar pattern, where the climax to the story doesn’t hit a peak until the story is over 80% done, only to then have a short falling action and a relatively short ending.

If you’re writing a story that is intended to have a sequel to it, this isn’t necessarily a bad route to go. You can afford to keep your ending a bit shorter if you’re planning for a sequel, because you can take advantage of cliffhanger or ambiguous style endings to build anticipation for your follow up book. With that said, if you’re looking to make your NaNoWriMo piece more of a standalone story, it might behoove you to extend the ending of your story by a little bit to tie up any loose ends to your story.

With that being said4><~~_, how do you differentiate the items that you should tie up in your climax versus what you should finish talking about in the denouement of your story? While the answer to this question might not be a cut-and-dried answer, I do have some thoughts where you might be able to draw the line.

Items to Tie Up in Your Climax

  • Your primary conflict: While this likely goes without saying, if there’s a problem your main protagonist(s) has been facing throughout the story, the climax is the place to wrap it up. This is likely slaying the big bad or overcoming some sort of adversity for the final time in the story, however, it could also include some of the following items.
  • Your protagonist’s primary lesson: If there’s something your main character is supposed to learn over the course of the book — be it the power of friendship, some moral lesson, that it’s okay to use an illegal kick because no one likes Cobra Kai5Except me. — now is the time for them to use that lesson to resolve that conflict.
  • Final deaths: If anyone else needs to die in your book, now is likely the best time to finish killing them off. There’s an outside chance you can get away with someone dying in the falling action, but they’d likely have to be someone that has been redeemed throughout the climax, now dying as a hero instead of as a villain. Think Darth Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi.

Items to Tie Up in Your Ending

  • How your main character has changed after the climax: Do they live happily ever after? Did the group of rag-tag heroes that came together to deliver swift justice decide that they’re going to stick together? Did all the pets finally get back home? This is a great time to exposit what happened after that dramatic climax.
  • Planting the seeds for a sequel: If you’re wanting to give your book a sequel, now is the time to leave some ambiguity in your ending. While you don’t need to introduce a new conflict here, making it feel like someone (likely your protagonist) has unfinished business gives you a springboard with which to start your next project off of.
  • The final feeling for your book: How do you want the reader to remember the last few pages of your book? While most stories end on a happy or hopeful note, that might not be what you’re going for. My 2015 NaNoWriMo project had a very bleak ending, however considering the climax that had preceded it, I could have written it much darker. Do you want your reader to end the book with a smile on their face? In tears of sorrow? In tears of joy? Create that lasting final scene here.

Like my NaNoWriMo tips series? Have questions for me about the topics posted daily? Do you just want to talk about your story and have nowhere else to do so? Leave a comment and join the discussion.

Support my writing on Patreon by pledging at this link.

NaNoWriMo Tips: I’m Not Going To Make It. Have I Failed?

Welcome to the twelfth6Can we all take a moment to appreciate how weird the English language is? I mean. How the fuck is twelfth a form of twelve? post of my NaNoWriMo tips series. For other tips in this series, as well as a schedule for future posts, take a look at the links below. Today’s tip and my discussion of it can be found immediately below the schedule.



Today’s post will talk about the one topic I’ve largely avoided bringing up aside from highlighting my own failures and addressing how to avoid them. It’s getting close to the end of November. Including today, you have four days left to write your NaNoWriMo story. If you’re writing based on the average pace needed to finish your NaNoWriMo project (1,666 words a day), this means that you have 6,664 words to go.

That said, if you’re on pace, this post isn’t totally meant for you. For that matter, if you’re not going to finish your story in November, but you are going to hit the 50,000 word count goal within the 30 days, this post isn’t totally for you either. That’s not to say you can’t read the post and get something out of it. If nothing else, stick around and jump in the comments and encourage others. But the post I’ll have that’s more meant for you is coming on Friday7I recognize that’s not in sync with the typical Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday posting schedule I’ve kept for these, but what am I supposed to do? Thirty days hath September, April, June, and NaNoWriMo..

This post is meant for those of you who are coming to the end of the month and are feeling disappointed, despondent, upset, overwhelmed, heartbroken, or frankly, just fucking pissed that you aren’t going to finish your NaNoWriMo novel on time. And although I mentioned a couple of posts back that this series’ post about writers’ block was the hardest one for me to write, this post likely had the most edits to it. That’s because it’s really hard to say the right thing to someone when they don’t reach a goal they really wanted to hit.

When I failed my 2012 NaNoWriMo project goal, it didn’t hit me that hard. At least, it didn’t initially. The idea floated around in my mind for weeks afterwards. While I didn’t finish writing the story in November of 2012, I did work on it regularly throughout December of 2012, as well as January through March of 2013. But then, as you’ll recall from the last post, I gave up on the story because I hated it.

November 2013 rolled around and I didn’t have any free time to do NaNoWriMo. I had just gotten a promotion at my job — one that meant I went from working 40-45 hours a week at an hourly pay to working 60-80 hours a week on salary — and my free time had vanished almost instantly. It’s also one of only two years since 2011 where I didn’t have any involvement in NaNoWriMo at all8Be it as a participant, as a passive reader of someone’s project, or as someone who gave advice to others in some way.. And it didn’t really bother me because I was so busy.

That said, November 2014 was a different story. I did have free time again, so in mid-September or so, I started making a game plan for the story I was going to write. I spent a Saturday afternoon sitting in a Panera near my apartment outlining and writing out a basic plot synopsis, all while coming up with these dramatic, vibrant characters. By the time I left, while I didn’t have a story fully modeled out, I had a great start towards it.

That’s what I’d love to tell you happened. In reality, I opened a Google Doc, wrote down two sentences or so of an idea, plus a short character description for a main character9Though I scrapped the story arc sentences I’d written, I do still have the two paragraph description I wrote for this character saved in my notes. I’ll use her at some point in the future. I think?, then played around on Sporcle for an hour or so until I went home and played video games for the rest of the day. I tried this again a handful of times more before the start of November, only to have the same end result.

I didn’t want to try writing a novel again. I mean, I did. But at the same time, in my mind at that point, I had failed with my 2012 NaNoWriMo project not once, but twice. My initial failure meant I hadn’t met my goal within the NaNoWriMo time limit. Then I had failed again because I had not only given up on my story with a few thousand words to go, I had also come to hate the story itself.

I say all of that to say that I was just looking at things the wrong way, though I didn’t recognize that at the time. Though the fact that I hadn’t finished my novel in 30 days was true, I had managed to turn out a 60,000+ word story with a complex backstory and a fairly significant amount of world building built in. The world building in particular should have been something I was incredibly proud of — even if my characters and the story itself did frustrate me — because it was a tough task that I had never attempted before when writing a story. But I was too caught up in being frustrated with failing two years prior that it kept me from even starting NaNoWriMo in 2014.

So what advice can I give to all of you from my own experiences? While my story isn’t a perfect one-to-one match, I think there’s still some key takeaways that can be made.

1. It’s Okay to Be Mad…For a Little While

If you’re mad or frustrated that you didn’t finish your story during NaNoWriMo, that’s fine. If you have frustration over not meeting your goal, that can be a great motivator towards working to meet the goal eventually, even if it’s not within that deadline. I know I’ve used my own frustrations with failing at projects to do them better the next time I attempt them (or for my next project, depending on the context of the project).

With that said, don’t dwell on your frustration for too long. If you do that, you run the risk of the spiral that I fell into myself in 2014 that I described above. At a certain point, you have to take why you’re frustrated, recognize where that frustration comes from, and make a plan to not have that failure in future attempts, be it with this story or with future shots at NaNoWriMo.

2. Focus on Your Successes

Even if you didn’t get 50,000 words written in November, how many words did you write? 25,000? 30,000? More? That’s a lot of writing! It’s a huge accomplishment to finish NaNoWriMo for sure. But it’s also a big accomplishment to dedicate part (or all) of a month to writing a story.

NaNoWriMo is supposed to be somewhat of a sprint. Authors often spend months or years writing their books. You just attempted to write a book in a single month. And while there will likely be more time you’ll invest into your story if you want to finish it or if you want to do something with it, the progress you made during NaNoWriMo is a great thing. Be proud of yourself.

3. Make a Plan For How You’ll Finish Your Story

If you do want to finish your story out, even after NaNoWriMo ends, great! I’ll be talking more about this specific point in Thursday’s post, though I do want to address for a moment in the context of not finishing your story during NaNoWriMo.

While the concept of getting your ideas on paper within the deadline of NaNoWriMo isn’t valid anymore with the end of NaNoWriMo nearing, the premise that you should get your main story on paper is still valid. Tell your story, start to finish before going back and editing it. Make sure you end your story, regardless of if you’re truly ending the story or setting up for a sequel or series. Then, chart out the steps you’ll take in the plot of your story to get you from where you are right now to that ending. Taking a little bit of time to make this structure (if you haven’t already) can help you to make sure you reach your new goal of finishing, even if it is in a different timeline than you initially planned.

4. Find Someone to Help Hold You Accountable For Your New Goal

One of the hardest thing to do when it comes to writing10Or anything, really. That said, we’re focusing on writing for now. is to stick to goals you make without having some level of accountability towards reaching those goals. In an ideal situation, you’ll have someone close to you who will be willing to help you stick to those goals. If you have that, your solution is simple. Just tell your close person your goal, keep them updated, and stick with it.

That said, if you don’t have someone close to you who cares about your writing goals, this can be a little trickier of a predicament. As much of a cesspool as Twitter can be for various reasons, one of the beautiful things about Twitter is that there are ton of great writers’ groups out there (shout out to Ch21Con) that use Twitter to great effect. As I mentioned prior, resources like /r/nanowrimo on Reddit are great for this as well. You could even try asking in the comments here. If there’s a commentor that has an interest in your story, perhaps they’ll be your accountability person. I might even do it for some folks…though I admittedly can’t take everyone who reads this site. That would just be silly.


Like my NaNoWriMo tips series? Have questions for me about the topics posted daily? Do you just want to talk about your story and have nowhere else to do so? Leave a comment and join the discussion.

Support my writing on Patreon by pledging at this link.

Everything Millennials Are Killing

As a millennial, I’m continuously shocked to learn how many things I’m killing. I don’t have the time in the day to kill anything, let alone to kill all the things ever. It’s bad enough that Know Your Meme is even making fun of it. And while there may be plenty of think pieces online written by people who aren’t millennials trying to explain why millennials are killing entire industries, that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to give you objective journalism.

And video game posts. And short stories. And shit posts. But mostly objective journalism.

Without further ado, here’s a list of everything millennials are killing, according to newspapers, magazines, and other major publications11I refuse to refer to this amalgamation of sources as “the media” not because it’s inaccurate, but because people who use this term are often doing so out of a derision towards a particular set of news sources that don’t agree with their personal or political world view. Doing so is not only childish, but also embarrassing for those who speak that way, even if the terminology they choose to use has some basis in reality (depending, of course, on the adjectives they use to describe “the media”).. This list is ordered chronologically, as I’m just trying to retrace my steps to figure out what all I’ve killed. I have chosen to exclude items that random sites not tied to publications have stated that millennials have killed, otherwise this post would be 50,000 words. If there are other things I’ve killed that I’m missing, leave me a link to the article you’ve found in the comments.

Note: A massive thank you is due to a pair of articles I found on Buzzfeed and Mashable that gave me a good start to this list. That said, I went down some weird rabbit holes to find some of these articles.

2012

June 8 – Payscale says millennials killed the corner office

2013

July 22 – Slate says millennials are killing the religious right

2014

July 16 – Unwritten says millennials are killing manners and class

July 24 – Forbes says millennials are killing golf

August 1 – Wired says millennials killed bad advertising

August 25 – The Gothamist says millennials are killing McDonald’s, but only those of us who are promiscuous

September 8 – NBC News says millennials are killing credit cards

October 2 – Forbes says millennials might be killing Home Depot

2015

February 20 – Mic says millennials are killing the terms boyfriend and girlfriend

March 24 – Market Watch says millennials are killing Macy’s

May 27 – The New York Times says millennials are killing thongs

May 30 – Tech Crunch says millennials are killing banks (though to be fair, banks started it)

August 13 – Quartz says millennials killed General Electric’s performance review process

September 2 – Business Insider says that a millennial owned company is trying to kill Victoria’s Secret

September 24 – Refinery29 says millennials are killing TV sitcoms

October 2 – Digiday says millennials have killed focus groups

October 28 – Entrepreneur Magazine says millennials are killing the cubicle

November 10 – Time says millennials — with some help from baby boomers — killed retirement savings for Gen X

2016

January 8 – Philly Magazing says millennials are killing working

February 3 – Forbes says millennials — in a coordinated effort with baby boomers — killed the Toyota Scion

February 9 – Boston.com and Deloitte partnered up to say millennials are killing company loyalty

February 25 – The Atlantic says millennials attempted to kill the wine cork, but it’s unclear if they’ve succeeded

March 4 – Mashable says millennials are killing expensively furnished hotels

March 21 – GQ says millennials are killing breakfast cereal

March 23 – Entrepreneur Magazine says millennials are killing the 9-to-5 workday

March 28 – Business Insider says millennials are killing paper napkins

April 14 – Bloomberg says millennials killed the McWrap

April 15 – The New York Post says millennials are killing the movie industry

April 26 – Elle Magazine says millennials are killing the stiletto heel

April 27 – Vice says millennials are killing fucking

May 5 – The Wall Street Journal says millennials are killing running

May 8 – The Globe and Mail says millennials are killing the Canadian tourism industry

June 21 – Market Watch says millennials are killing face-to-face interaction

June 29 – The Economist says millennials are killing diamonds. They followed up a day later with their infamous diamond tweet.

June 30 – Quartz says millennials are killing the myth that they’re entitled

July 16 – The Caribbean News Service says millennials are killing the cruise industry

July 19 – USA Today says millennials are killing the bra

August (Date Unknown) – Call center company Evaluagent says millennials are killing call center culture.

August 3 – The New York Post says millennials are killing sex. Again.

August 10 – Market Watch says millennials are killing home cooking

August 19 – NY Magazine says millennials are killing the Olympics

August 22 – The Washington Post says millennials are killing home ownership. Also on this day, research firm Mintel said millennials are killing bar soap.

August 26 – Inc says millennials are killing vacations

September 6 – Indiewire says millennials are killing the DVR

September 21 – Business Insider says millennials are killing light yogurt

September 29 – Time says millennials are killing traditional baby names

October 10 – The LA Times says millennials killed big spending and risk taking.

October 13 – Reuters says millennials are killing their parents’ retirement plans. Again.

October 17 – The New York Post says millennials are killing gyms

October 27 – The Wall Street Journal says millennials are killing grocers

December 16 – The Wall Street Journal says millennials are killing fabric softener

December 29 – The Journal of Hand Therapy and the National Institutes of Health say that millennials are killing strong handshakes. Also on this date, the New York Post says millennials killed the dinner date.

2017

February 17 – Fortune says millennials are killing department stores

February 28 – The Metro says millennials are killing marmalade

March 23 – The New York Post says millennials are killing brunch

March 25 – USA Today says millennials are killing cable

March 28 – USA Today says millennials are killing lunch

April 4 – Bloomberg says millennials are killing marriage

June 3 – Business Insider says millennials are killing casual restaurants

June 15 – Nylon Magazine says millennials killed J. Crew

June 22 – Autoweek says millennials are killing automotive marketing

July 10 – USA Today says millennials are killing college football attendance. Also on this day, Yes Lifecycle Marketing published a study saying millennials are killing malls.

July 12 – CNBC says millennials are killing Harley-Davidson

July 21 – Business Insider says millennials are killing the oil industry

July 24 – Business Insider says millennials are killing the beer industry

August 15 – NPR says millennials are killing Applebee’s, marking the second time Applebee’s has died by our hands

August 16 – Business Insider says millennials are killing ‘breastaurants’ like Hooters

August 25 – Business Insider says millennials are killing traditional education

October 2 – The New York Post says millennials are killing postcards

October 13 – Vice says millennials are killing lotteries

October 31 – Business Insider says millennials are killing Halloween…kind of.

November 30 – Forbes says millennials are killing salary secrecy

December 7 – The Weekly Standard says millennials are killing office holiday parties

2018

January 4 – Fortune says millennials are killing being imperfect

January 13 – Wired says millennials are killing capitalism

January 19 – The Washington Post says millennials are (possibly) killing Costco

March 11 – The Financial Post says millennials are killing malls again. But this time it’s Canadian malls.

March 24 – Forbes says millennials killed both youth sports and Toys ‘R Us

March 27 – USA Today says millennials are plotting to kill the top sheet, though they haven’t acted on it yet

May 1 – The Guardian says millennials are killing the living room

May 14 – Metro says millennials are killing Club 18-30 holidays

May 24 – Carbuzz says millennials (or Gen Z…they’re not sure which) are killing subcompact cars

June 26 – Forbes says millennials are killing kitchens. Again.

July 2 – CityLab says millennials are killing country club membership

July 12 – The Comeback says millennials are killing Millennial Night for minor league baseball teams. This one isn’t important at all, but did make me laugh.

August 6 – Business Insider says millennials killed a beer specifically created for them

August 9 – Maxim says millennials are killing the razor industry

August 11 – Philly Magazine says millennials are killing mayonnaise

August 21 – Bustle says millennials killed dress codes

September 15 – The Washington Post says millennials are killing Washington DC’s metro

September 20 – KARE 11 says millennials are killing resumes

September 24 – The Minneapolis Star-Tribune says millennials are killing post offices

September 26 – USA Today says millennials are killing divorce

October 8 – USA Today says millennials are killing relationships

October 9 – Fortune says millennials are killing the primary care doctor

October 10 – Bloomberg says millennials are killing American cheese

October 11 – The Guardian says millennials are killing getting drunk

October 24 – Sports blog Saturday Down South says millennials are killing the University of Miami’s smoking Ibis mascot

November 1 – Jezebel says millennials are, shockingly, not killing funeral homes

November 19 – The Daily Mail says millennials are killing large Thanksgiving turkeys

November 22 – Metro UK says millennials are killing Christmas traditions

November 30 – A study by the Federal Reserve (via NPR) says millennials are killing things because they’re poorer than previous generations. We finally have a motive!

December 3 – Business Insider says millennials are killing canned tuna

Current Millennial Kill Count

Confirmed Kills: 95

Repeat Kills: 5

Possible Kills: 4

Total: 104

Other (Failed Kills and Motives): 2

NaNoWriMo Tips: I Hate My Story

Welcome to the eleventh post of my NaNoWriMo tips series. For other tips in this series, as well as a schedule for future posts, take a look at the links below. Today’s tip and my discussion of it can be found immediately below the schedule.



Have you ever been playing through a video game, particularly a long game that relies a lot on the choices you make throughout the game? Let’s say for example that game is Civilization VI, not that I have any experience with playing that for hours on end or anything12Australia is best civ. I will fight you, mate.. In Civilization VI, your games can drag on for hours, if not days, particularly when playing a single player match against multiple other computer civilizations. I had one such game a while back where I was 300-350 turns into my game’s 500 turn limit. I was winning, though not by as much as I would have liked, putting myself in a great, but not guaranteed, position to win the game. At that point, I came to a realization. I was done with this game. So I closed out of Civ without saving and went to do something else.

I felt this way about a novel once too. Remember that ill-fated 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt I talked about in the last post? I did end up working on that story some in December of 2012 before really getting going on it in earnest in early 2013. By the middle of March, that story was nearly 65,000 words long. I had two or three more chapters to write, including the final fight scene where the protagonist who had been repeatedly betrayed by those closest to him would get revenge on the ex-best friend who had been turned against him. I had created this elaborate dystopian backstory set in post-apocalyptic Finland and Estonia, complete with copious amounts of research into the foods of Scandinavia and the Baltic regions13Because the food that certain characters ate at certain times was used for foreshadowing and symbolism. Because reasons..

Yet, despite being likely less than 10,000 words from finishing, I gave up on the story. I was done. I hated this story.
Why I hated this story isn’t nearly as important as the fact that I hated this story (though I will get to the why). It was a first for me. Not finishing a story was one thing. My very first attempt at a novel was one I didn’t finish. I quit six chapters in once I realized that the idea I had picked was not very good and that I had only chosen it to impress my then-girlfriend14Who was far too excited to read my stories. And this is coming from the person writing them.. I had hated poetry and songs I’d written because, truth be told, I wasn’t good at it. This was, however, the first time I hated a full-fledged story.

It’s a really crappy feeling to get deep into writing a story only to realize the story isn’t what you’d hoped it would be. You begin to feel like all of the time you’ve put into the story has gone to waste. This feeling hits especially hard if this happens during NaNoWriMo. If you’re working on your story and begin to hate it outside of a NaNoWriMo project, yeah, it sucks, but you also have time to work on it, rewrite it, or whatever you need to do to get it to the point you want it at15Presumably. Ignore that previous point entirely if you nearing a publishing or editing deadline.. But in NaNoWriMo, not only do you hate your story, you now have to finish a story you dislike with a looming deadline. This prompts the question — how exactly do you handle hating your story during NaNoWriMo?

To answer that, I think it’s important to identify exactly why you hate your story now. After all, you liked your story idea well enough at one point in time that you wanted to write a whole novel based off of it. For my 2012 story, I got to the climax of the novel and hated it for three primary reasons.

  1. My main character seemed less likeable than I would have hoped by the climax. It wasn’t as though he was supposed to be a character who worked lived in gray areas either. He was a very Mary Sue-like character that lacked a lot of depth. If anything, the ex-best friend who became the villain of the story was more believable than him.
  2. There was a weird subplot to the story that I had written in based on these child prodigies that had been hidden by an underground network to keep them safe from the dystopian government running most of the world. By the end of the story, they functioned more of a deus ex machina than the actual saviors to the story that they were meant to be. I also named some of the children based off of minor Greek and Babylonian deities despite having limited knowledge of the former and negligible knowledge of the latter, making my analogies forced and inaccurate.
  3. Speaking of that ex-best friend in the story, she stupidly overpowered, both story line wise and in terms of her abilities in comparison to the main character. Her losing to the main character in any capacity seemed unrealistic.

Looking back, my story likely needed a massive rewrite more than it needed to be scrapped. That said, I was so caught up in how disappointed I was with myself that the story had turned out the way that it had that I just gave up. The story still sits unfinished to this day16If I ever attempt to revive any of the previous novels I’ve attempted for NaNoWriMo and turn them into a book, this specific story would likely be my second priority, behind my 2015 project. There’s a character in my 2015 project who I love so much that I need to find a way to work her into my current story. This is problematic in that I killed her off near the end of that 2015 NaNoWriMo story, but that’s not important right now.

So, how do you avoid this same fate for your story, even if you hate it? I have a few suggestions.

First off, if you get to the point where you feel like you hate your story, take a little time (be that a few minutes, an hour, or even a day) and step away from your story. Giving yourself a little space between times writing on your story can help grant you some clarity with how to continue on (or even fix) your story. If you have the ability to sleep on the idea, do so. I came to my initial realization that I hated my 2012 story around three in the morning on a Friday night. Nothing good ever happens when you’re tired and the clock is past midnight.

Second, this is a situation where having people around you, be they NaNoWriMo peers, friends, family, or just someone aware of the project you’re undertaking can be helpful. Even if they don’t totally understand the specifics of your story, talking through the story and why your’e struggling with it can help you better vocalize the struggle you have. I don’t recommend rubber ducking in this case, as having someone there to talk back to you can help to avoid going into spirals of frustration with your work. As someone who deals with these (frequently) myself, I promise it’s helpful.

As another potential way to help yourself turn your hate for your story around, take a moment to take stock of the things you loved about your story idea when you originally came up with it. I mentioned how I should have done this with my 2012 story earlier in this post. That said, I definitely feel like it’s an exercise that could be beneficial to more than just me. If I were writing my notes for why I loved my 2012 story enough to want to turn it into a novel, it’d look something like this (at least from what I can remember from six years ago).

  • The idea of writing a story that was an homage to the dystopian literature I loved reading as a kid (1984, A Canticle for Leibowitz, The Giver, Feed, The Lorax17I would argue The Lorax is dystopian literature, even though I’ve had several people disagree with me on this point. Wikipedia agrees though.) was exciting.
  • I spent the better part of two days hand drawing a map depicting the new political layout of this futuristic world. I can’t understate how much I love maps.
  • I loved the idea of doing a twist ending. There was a planned hard right turn after the climax of the story. I still love this specific twist and may well use it in the future (even in a non-dystopian book).

I know I had a longer list at one point in time, however that list has since faded from my mind. The larger, and more important, point is that I can still remember some of why I wanted to write that story, even six years later. There’s going to be reasons that stick with you about why you wanted to write your story, even well after NaNoWriMo has ended. I think that those reasons by themselves are enough reason to stick to finishing your story this month.

And you know what? If you end up completely rewriting the story in December or at some point down the line, that’s fine. Do that. Tear the story apart and redesign it from the ground up. But finish the story first. It’s easier to edit a finished book than to try to rewrite something you hate as you’re writing it (at least in my experience).


Like my NaNoWriMo tips series? Have questions for me about the topics posted daily? Do you just want to talk about your story and have nowhere else to do so? Leave a comment and join the discussion.

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NaNoWriMo Tips: What to do About Holidays

Welcome to the tenth (!) post of my NaNoWriMo tips series. For other tips in this series, as well as a schedule for future posts, take a look at the links below. Today’s tip and my discussion of it can be found immediately below the schedule.



Happy Thursday. If you’re anywhere outside of the United States or its associated territories, today is just Thursday for you. Well, unless you live in Costa Rica, where it’s Teacher’s Day. Or in Cambodia, where today is the first day of the Water Festival Ceremony. Or in Lebanon, where it’s Independence Day. Look, this analogy is falling apart and I don’t know how to save it, so we’re just going to move on.

If you’re in the United States, today is Thanksgiving Day. There’s an outside chance you’re reading this at some point early in the morning when you’ve set aside time for NaNoWriMo related activities. There’s a chance you’re doing the same thing, just in the evening. That said, the most likely reason you’re here is because it’s sometime in the afternoon where you are. Thanksgiving lunch/dinner18It has always bothered me that my family refers to it as Thanksgiving dinner even though ours routinely starts between 1 and 2 pm. Dinner for who? The British? is over and though you love football and your family, you have no desire to discuss politics with your racist uncle while the Detroit Lions or Dallas Cowboys are on TV in the background19Just me?.

In the event you did schedule yourself some time today and/or tomorrow to write on your NaNoWriMo project, amazing. You’re immediately doing better than I was in terms of day-to-day consistency in any of my NaNoWriMo project years. If you didn’t schedule yourself time — or if you’re like me and initially thought Thanksgiving was on the 29th, only for your writing calendar to later be messed up — I have some good and bad news for you.

The bad news is that unless you’re well ahead in your story, there’s a chance that some (if not all) of your weekend is shot. I know a lot of people travel during Thanksgiving weekend. While for some folks this means close trips just on Thanksgiving day, for others your voyage might have started on Wednesday, with the end coming as late as Saturday or Sunday. And though you could be writing as your making a long drive or flight back from wherever you spent your Thanksgiving20Shout out to Valparaiso, Indiana and Canyon Lake, Arizona, not just for being two of the unlikeliest places I’ve spent a Thanskgiving, but also because the former is fun to say and because the latter is beautiful., you’ll only have this luxury if you’re not the one operating the mode of transportation needed to get you home.

The good news though is that in spite of everything I just talked about in the paragraph above, the calendar is doing you some favors this year. November 22 is the earliest that Thanksgiving can fall in the year, so you have eight whole days to get your story finished after today. Even if you miss out on 1,666 words today, you have a full weekend at your disposal, as well as nearly an entire other week to keep writing.

While you might have been able to sneak away to read this post, it might not be as manageable to duck out and write 500-1000 words on the fly. That’s completely understandable. But I bet you’re reading this on your phone or a tablet21As the only people who bring laptops to Thanksgiving are people who use them to play Civilization because for the last time, Uncle Jethro, I don’t want to talk about immigration with you.. It wouldn’t be too conspicuous if you just spent some time listening to the holiday conversation and seeing if there was a sentence or two — maybe even a scene — that you could lift from real life and work into your book in some way. Just make a note of it in your phone. Then, once you do have some time to get writing done, you’ll have to spend a little less time thinking about what to write next.

I’ll keep this post short as it is a holiday. Take some time and relax. You’ll need it for the final stretch. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a piece of pecan pie calling my name.


Like my NaNoWriMo tips series? Have questions for me about the topics posted daily? Do you just want to talk about your story and have nowhere else to do so? Leave a comment and join the discussion.

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