NaNoWriMo 201 – Enough for 50,000 Words?

November. NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow.

You have a plan, picked direct from the last post. On to the story.

Wait, not sure on the story yet? Oh dear.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Still debating on a few story ideas, but how do I know if my story will last 50000 words? 

—Jansen Wheeler, Boca Raton, Fla.

(Note: NaNoWriMo is short for Narcissistic Nonsense Writing Motivation or something like that. Simple premise: write a “novel” of fifty-thousand words within the month of November. The prize? Fifty-thousand dollars. In the competition’s 196-year history, only three have claimed the prize.)

Simplest way: use one of your monthly time-travel teleports to zip to December and find out.

If you don’t want to burn one of those, try a few of these handy-dandies.

Summary time:

“Oh, yeah, it’s about (something something soooomething yeah).” If you can sum it up neatly within 10 seconds or in a simple sentence, you may be in trouble. Pull an anti-Inception here: the simplest, rawest form of the idea is not what you need. A two-second, five-word summary might not be enough concentrate, bub. But a two-paragraph, five-minute presentation of a summation? Maybe.

Digressive potential: 

While I normally discourage the abuse of this, NaNoWriMo isn’t about quality. If your narrative is too compact, loosed up the threads a bit. Writing Sci-Fi? Come on, Sci-Fi is nothing but digression. You can spend 10,000 words on why bipolar tachyon vortices work in prehistoric vacuums, but not in postpositive bended reality. Add a <tech> tag and move on. Same with fantasy. Spells, potions, the Codex Magicus, arcane histories, backstory that won’t advance the narrative: it will advance you to the finish line.


Quick: name the longest Charles Dickens novel, then name the Dickens novel with the most characters. Yep, it’s the same one. Then you have The Tale of Genji, featuring over four hundred characters. It’s long enough to win you NaNoWriMo for half a year. Point being: stick in enough characters to consume 50,000 words worth of treatment.

Flashbang flashbacks:

Did you know that, according to science, we humans spend up to 27% (!) of our day either rehashing the past, reminiscing, or dwelling on things we’ve done in the past? NaNoWriMo doesn’t care if you drive the narrative into a temporal ditch to go back in time and give your story some story-behind-the-story. Same thing with looking forward. Dreams and ideals to come are part of our existence. Feel free to imbue the narrative with the same. Give it the time trifecta.

Any other handy-dandies work for you?

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (, followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong), and probed for more NaNoWriMo nectar during the month.


NaNoWriMo 101 – Writing Plans


Depending on where you live, autumn’s in full swing, or it’s already murdered by winter. Depending on where you live, Thanksgiving. Not shaving. Black Friday. Day of the Dead. No more baseball. Guy Fawkes. Native American. Leonids meteors. No more pink NFL gear. Lava fest. Beluga caviar smuggling. Taco Pizza Day. Week of walking on your hands. Anti-hiccup awareness.

November to writers: NaNoWriMo. I needn’t say more.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

What’s your plan for NaNoWriMo? Because I want to know how you plan to finish. I wish I could say I’ve gotten to 50,000 words, but I haven’t. The closest I got was 32,809. Is there a sure fire way to reach that hallowed mark of 50k? 

—Brandy Ferris, Kent Acres, Del.

(Note: NaNoWriMo is short for Narcissistic Nonsense Writing Motivation or something like that. Simple premise: write a “novel” of fifty-thousand words within the month of November. The prize? Fifty-thousand dollars. In the competition’s 196-year history, only three have claimed the prize.)

Most important thing about a competition of words: numbers. 50,000 is a big African elephant to swallow. Most choke on the trunk right away, but even if you successfully engorge that much, you’re still not going to cram down the elephant’s head, tusks, and feet. Come now, everyone knows you can’t eat an elephant in a day all by yourself. Even if you chop it to eat over the month, you realize, “Wait, I’ve got ears for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and this hindquarters is way too much for the week. It’s gonna go bad before I can finish it. Better bring the neighbors over…”

Yeah. Reduce it all you want, but you’re still not planning. You can win that $50,000 if you have a concrete plan.

By the numbers:

November: 30 days. Requirement: 50,000 words. Words per day: 1,666.66 (need 2/3 of a word there).

Easy? If it were easy, then everyone would win. At this point in the blog, I’ve only got 363 words. Only 22% of goal, and I’ve been writing for hours.

By the plans:

The People’s Daily — 1,666ish words per day, every day, without fail. Rain, shine, beetles, brine.

Recommended if you’re single, unemployed, insomniac, or live the same kind of boring life day in and out. It’s the most straightforward, but I hope you’re cozy with monotony, because this plan is like superannuated mice. Really old, really quick.

The Weekend Wartortle — 5000 words per Saturday/Sunday, and 455 words per weekday.

Recommended for those who, like everyone in the known universe, work a Monday-Friday, 8 to 5. Minor quota for the day, with generous allowances for the weekend. Keeps you sharp, lets you avalanche on your days off.

The Weekend Warhalla — 6,250 words per weekend day. No weekdays.

Recommended for sissies who think they’re too busy during the week. Enjoy eating one-fourth of the elephant each weekend.

The Weekend Liberator — 2,273 words per weekday. No weekends.

Recommended for those who will go insane during the week to regain sanity during the weekend.

The Stay-at-Home Mom Who One Day Wants to Write a Novel — 1,000 words per weekday, and 7,000 words per one weekend day.

Recommended for, well, stay-at-home moms. You can squeeze 1,000 words in between naptimes, feedings, and when the tots are glued to Croelius and the Barnyard Gang DVDs. And when your spouse comes home, even better, as he can watch the kids while you finish off the quota. He’ll sign on, of course, since you’re not “writing all the time” with your one weekend day break. That gives him the liberty to wash the car, ride motorcycles with his buds, and do all that “guy stuff” you hate guys doing. But hey, you’ll be finishing a novel. 

The Prime Number — 1,667 words per day.

Recommended for math geeks who have to write a prime number of words per day. Convenient.

The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — 1,000 words (and change) when in your right mind, 666 when you’ve undergone a hideous transformation.

Recommended for lycanthropes, sufferers of personality shift, menacing dissociative disorders, and other folks with terrorizing transformative tendencies.

The Micromanager — 140 words per hour, for twelve hours per day.

Recommended for people who really have to break it down into digestible chunks. 140 words per hour? That’s like a really big tweet every hour, on the hour. Trade in your mindless tweets every minute for mindless writing every 60 minutes, and you’ll be a winner in no time. Well, in 30 days no time.

The Procrastinatorsaurus Rex — 12,500 words for the last weekend in November, followed by about 8,334 words for the last three days in November.

Recommended for people who don’t get around to doing this until Thanksgiving weekend.

The Daily Double — Write one word on November 1st, then write double that (2 words) for the next day, then double the previous day’s amount (write 4 words) the next day, then 8 words the next day, then 16 words, then 32, and so on.

Recommended for people who don’t understand the concept of compound interest or a geometric series. But the bonus here is that while you’ll have over 17,000+ words to go on November 15th, you’ll be 15,000+ words over the goal on November 16th. Oh yeah. Math works miracles for writing.

What’s your plan?

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (, followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong), and probed for more NaNoWriMo nectar during the month.

Writing Group Therapy

The writer’s best resources are the silence, the space to think, and the brass to put aside the need for coddling and constructive criticism. Meeting with other writers? Good idea, right? Not when it devolves into forcible agony of niceness, curling up in little balls, and coming out of the shell only when someone “plays nice” to you with your sorry writing. What should be a session of iron warring against iron becomes a farce, with many instead buying expensive light coffees, presenting mindless compliments, and tying cute little bows on pellets of turd.

This is how writing groups make you weak, your craft anemic.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Hi Mr. All Wrong,

What do you suggest by way of writing groups? I make it a point to share my writing snippets with fellow authors, but I have a hard time telling whether its productive or not. It’s like we don’t see eye to eye on much. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fun, but how do you get the most out of writing groups?

—Lauren Worley, Tigard, Ore.

Writing groups are like packs of dogs, wolves, or other assorted canids (like the flying blacktooth wilburfox). You have a ragtag group of followers under one alpha dog. But in writing groups, the alpha dog sticks his tail between his or her legs and starts acting like the omega dog, placating others and conceding far too much authority (“Oh, I love how your hero marries the heroine in the end! So romantic!”), shelving what needs to be said for what people want to hear.

Writing groups exist because most writers feel the need for validation and attention by leeching off of others who are just as needy for the same. Weak cycle is weak. In nature, your bad writing doesn’t deserve to be validated. Its jugular would be bitten, broken, shaken, torn out, and spat upon with bloody spittle. If your group is nothing but a therapy session, break out the wolf and make necessary edits as nature intended.

For starters, sniff out the natural alpha dog. This will be the person people look up to as the “most helpful writer,” probably the only one who forces a smile when he says, “That pioneer romance is a splendid idea! The saloon scene is so realistic and gritty.” They probably don’t have glaring errors in their writing, but if they’re letting this group continue, then you need to assert your dominance for the good of the pack.

Next, press the paw down on some throats:

“That story sucks. The narrative is trite, the characters wooden, and you use more clichés than would gag a whale shark. And you with the medieval fantasy? Can it. Fill up the moat with dirt and ransack that castle. That insipid mage bores me, and he’s going to put a sleeping spell on your reader if your reader was dumb enough to read this in the first place.”

Dominance acquired. If the pack leader moves to defend his mediocre sicklings, strike down his spineless writing and equally spineless leadership. Doesn’t matter if the people in Starbucks stare at you. You’re part of a revolution here. Defending the weak by keeping them weak is weak. That’s got to go. It might take a dozen well-placed stabs to their trachea with your No-Fat Chai Tea Skinny Latte straw, but it must be done.

As pack leader, you mustn’t tolerate this weak writing business. Either shape them up, or shape them out. Those who remain weak, discard. No more No-Milk Light Mocha Crappés at your table. Those who toughen up, embrace with firmness. They’ve submitted, but they must follow you in strength, forsaking needless coddling, striving to be better writers in their own right.

A cycle of strength to strength. That’s what you want in a group. Writers who go on to make other packs of strength. Writers who challenge your dominance. Writers who won’t object to punching holes in your throat when you start saying that someone’s flaccid noodle of a derivative mystery narrative is “ok.” Writers who will be violently honest.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (, followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong), and spotted in a forest leading a feared pack of writing wolves.