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Thread: Help! My NaNo novel is too short!

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW eskay's Avatar
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    Help! My NaNo novel is too short!

    First time NaNo-er, here. As I approach the halfway mark (I am a little behind...) I am slowly realizing that I am going to run out of plot way before I run out of month.

    As it turns out, writing at speed means that I write lean--I already know that I'm missing a ton of description. And probably some exposition. That, plus the fact that I really don't know how to plot a novel, means I'm looking at a "novel" that probably won't clear 30k by the time I've hit the planned end.

    What do?

    Add a subplot? A second POV? (I have a vague idea of how this could work)

    Keep writing about what happens "after" the ending? (I also have a vague idea of what this could be, but it needs lots of thinking)

    Go back and add paragraphs of description and infodumping in an effort to bump my word count?

    Help me AW, you're my only hope

  2. #2
    Never Surrender AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    What I'd do, if it were me, is finish this novel and immediately begin something else new, even without a plan. It's the most likely way to reach goal.

    I bet if you decide to add subplots or retrofit descriptions, your words added daily will slow way down. Since you're racing against the clock, that seems a bad idea to do as part of NaNo, although it would be fine later on.

    Remember, too, that it's possible your concept is really novella sized. Ain't nothing' wrong with that.

    Maryn, who writes novellas at times
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  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW DarienW's Avatar
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    Hi eskay,

    I'm a first timer too. My main advice is relax--there's no punishment for not hitting the 50K mark. A couple thoughts are to go back in and flesh out your lean passages. Also, now that you've got a good handle on your plot, perhaps you can take a moment and work on it.

    Otherwise, think of it as an experiment. Try your second POV, see where it goes. Have fun and don't pressure yourself.

    Here's a list of prompts to inspire some scenes, maybe they'll help spur your imagination.

    http://theeditorsblog.net/writing-prompts/

    On the site, put "plot" in the search engine. There's a ton of articles and advice.

    Congrats on challenging yourself and good luck!

  4. #4
    Procrastinator Extraordinaire Lillian_Blaire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eskay View Post
    First time NaNo-er, here. As I approach the halfway mark (I am a little behind...) I am slowly realizing that I am going to run out of plot way before I run out of month.

    As it turns out, writing at speed means that I write lean--I already know that I'm missing a ton of description. And probably some exposition. That, plus the fact that I really don't know how to plot a novel, means I'm looking at a "novel" that probably won't clear 30k by the time I've hit the planned end.

    What do?

    Add a subplot? A second POV? (I have a vague idea of how this could work)

    Keep writing about what happens "after" the ending? (I also have a vague idea of what this could be, but it needs lots of thinking)

    Go back and add paragraphs of description and infodumping in an effort to bump my word count?

    Help me AW, you're my only hope
    You say you're lean on description, so start by going back and adding what you know will help the story. If you have a vague idea of how a subplot or second POV would work, write them as a separate document file. That way, if they work, you can add them in. If they don't, you haven't messed up your current work. It won't change your word count because it's still considered part of the same novel.

    You may want to think about what could happen next and write about it (start of a sequel, perhaps?), but I might suggest trying to add scenes that will further the existing plot and add dimension to your characters. That may take some brainstorming. What about, instead of writing more of what comes after, you think about more of what came before? Something you could add to the beginning (prequel type stuff) that would be interesting and support your existing plot.

    I don't recommend unnecessary paragraphs of description and info-dumping just to get your word count. But as I said, adding information that is relevant to the story could help. Details, background information where relevant. If you can think of a subplot, go for it, but don't add it just for word count. Add it only if you're convinced it'll help your manuscript. Otherwise you won't be happy with the final result and all that hard work will be for nothing. OR you'll have a lot to edit, and end up having to cut out all you added. Huge time waster, I think.

    Anyway, good luck. If you have time, maybe read up on plotting and see if you can't learn a bit more about how to plot your novel--that might create gaps where you need more information.
    Last edited by Lillian_Blaire; 11-16-2016 at 06:46 AM.
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  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW eskay's Avatar
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    Thanks all for your advice (& reassurance!)

    I am going to try a multi-pronged approach. There are definite pieces that are missing from earlier in the story (it's SF and there are things I just plain forgot to explain (or illustrate) that will make no sense otherwise). And there is at least one occasion where my outline says "insert complications" that I....forgot to do. As well, there is a character who has been hanging out with my MC & friends who would be really better off having her own story thread.

    I know a little about what is going to happen in the sequel, and if I finish this story I will start on that.

    Part of the reason I am disappointed is that I was using NaNoWriMo to force myself to actually complete a novel (not something I have accomplished yet), and if it turns out this is actually a novella I still won't have accomplished that.

    Okay, back to writing...

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