NaNoWriMo Tip – Give the story ‘legs’!


This is part 3 of our special NaNoWriMo blog series. National Novel Writing Month takes place every November and, if you missed it, you can find more information in the first part of the series or take a look at the previous post, ‘Getting Unstuck’. Today we’re looking at ways you can widen your story, keep the words flowing and give yourself the best chance of hitting 50,000 words by the end of November.

Give it ‘legs’ . . .

A question that often surfaces – especially when I’m deciding which of my ideas will produce the best book – is ‘has it got the legs’? What do I mean by that? Well, just like some script ideas or characters can only sustain a single film or series, your premise or character may be more suited to a short story. It’s important it has ‘the legs’ or depth to produce a Novel or Novella. At this stage – almost halfway through Nano – it’s a little late to change your idea, so let’s look at a few ways you can take your original idea and ‘give it the legs’ it needs to make it across the finish line.

Sub-plots are far from sub-standard . . .

Are you missing a sub-plot – a minor story that runs alongside your main narrative? Remember, minor characters don’t realise they’re minor characters – they’re all the protagonist in their own stories, so why not have a think about some of their backstory? What’s going on with them while the main story takes place? This can take you to all kinds of new areas and add real depth to your story. You could even add a new POV to your book – a tried and tested technique for writers of Psychological Thrillers.

Dreaming up new stuff . . .

How about a dream sequence? This can be a good way to tell us more about your characters, add subtext to the main story and it gives you a chance to go completely off-script and in to the unknown. Even in more conventional genres, a dream sequence can be a fun way to add a touch of the surreal or to strengthen the wider themes of the book.

New words can be murder!

It might seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes killing off one of your main characters can be an effective way to take your novel in to new directions and create fresh new challenges for the survivors. In his brilliant book, On Writing, Stephen King describes using this technique to remedy the issues he was having when writing his classic, ‘The Stand’.

Share your ideas . . .

That’s just a couple of suggestions to help you maintain your momentum throughout November and beyond, but if you sign up to our new mailing list you can get our FREE motivational PDF: 10 Tips For Surviving NaNoWrimo, The First Draft and Beyond’.

And what about you? Do you have your own methods to keep the story machine running? Share them in the comments below. You might also find inspiration from my recent post over at Wayne Kelly Writes – ‘How To Know an Idea is ‘THE IDEA’.

Don’t forget, this week’s podcast is a special Nano-themed episode with Maria Smith giving loads more practical tips to help you hit your targets and stay healthy while you’re doing it. In the final part of this blog series next week, we’ll be looking at the final push towards the end of the contest and how you can stay motivated and healthy.


About Wayne

Editor and Soundman for MGL Media (@mglmedia) and currently completing debut novel 'Safe Hands'. Love Writing and hosting The Joined Up Writing Podcast. Follow @MrKelly2u or @jupodcast on Twitter and say hello.
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2 Responses to NaNoWriMo Tip – Give the story ‘legs’!

  1. Pingback: NaNoWriMo – Getting over the finish line | The Joined Up Writing Podcast

  2. Pingback: Life after NaNoWriMo – Finish The First Draft | The Joined Up Writing Podcast

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