Behind the Keyboard: Please Mind the Gap
Welcome back to Behind the Keyboard! This was supposed to be a weekly column but alas, exams got in the way. But we’re back! And in good time too because NaNoWriMo is coming up. Are you doing it this year? Let me know below.
I’ve tried to complete NaNo several times but i’ve never actually succeeded – not that it’s an easy thing to do of course, but far from impossible – and I began to wonder why. I wrote 10,000 words one year and then 24,000 words the next, but I noticed one thing: they all began to tail off towards the end. All the padding became more and more obvious as I read on and evidently I’d finished the ‘beginning’ (or Act 1) but I didn’t know where to go from there but I did know how I wanted to end. And then it all clicked: there was no middle. I like to picture this as a massive error 404 in between Chapter 7 and Chapter 21.
This year however, I really want to reach that 50k goal, but how? Evidently, the chasm in the middle of my plot must have something to do with it, but one must have enough material to fill this gaping hole first in order to reach the other side, where it’s greener and everything comes together. The middle of a novel should be where the tensions rise, the stakes increase and the reader becomes more and more hooked. The middle is the filling of the pie, so to speak, so here are a few ideas to help you flesh out the middle in NaNo:
– Index card method: write down all your scene ideas and put them on index cards and arrange them into a plot from there, adding/removing cards as necessary
– Thread charts: write down all your subplots on one side and chapters on the other, so you can see what happens in regards to each subplot in each chapter so you make sure you’re covering enough and you haven’t forgotten about that plot thread you started in chapter six.
(Only use the following methods in methods in emergencies day 26 of NaNo when you’ve still got 10k to go but the story has finished
– Kill a character (or make said character a vampire)
– Throw in a love interest
– Have the character have a near death experience
– Insert any life changing event here.
Of course, if you are going to kill a character or something, make sure it fits into the plot. An alien abduction wouldn’t make sense in your average YA romance novel. Most importantly, have fun! NaNo is supposed to be exciting, whether it be because you chased a crazy subplot idea that you wouldn’t normally go after or the thrill of racing against time to finish that novel. After all, it is your novel and you should have fun with it! The madness of it all is what NaNo is all about.
~11 days till NaNo!