5 Tips to Help You Write Killer Chapters During NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. Are you ready? Are you prepared? If not, you’ve got some work to do. I’m here to help.

Last week I wrote a blog titled 5 Ways to Succeed at NaNoWriMo. Today I am going to lay out 5 things to help you writer killer chapters.

  1. Keep a list of everything included in each chapter close by. POV, characters, setting, weather, and plot points. I am sure there are other things to jot down, but do your best to remember everything so you don’t forget something really important down the line.
  1. Write a brief description of each chapter to help you understand why it is essential to your story. Before you begin writing, reread it. If you find some chapters that do not belong, eliminate them. Or, at least highlight these darlings so you know if they are worth the effort when you get to them.
  1. Intermingle subtle tension and in your face tension. Subtle tension is when your Navy Seal character winds up at the rendezvous and no one is there. What do they do next? In your face tension is the bullets that fly from enemy guns when your character is ambushed. Remember the subtle tension, this keeps your readers turning the page.
  1. Consider framing your chapters by word count. Why? It gives you a smaller goal to shoot for and helps you know when to close things down. Also, you can take a break halfway through and it will keep you healthy and sane.
  1. Make sure some of your chapters have an arc. There are certain sub-plots in novels that last a few chapters, but still encapsulate things important to the overarching plot. There are also episodes that are small one chapter arcs that give the reader a brief feeling of satisfaction or completion (usually right before you crush the character they love). Take a look at some of your favorite books. You’ll see what I mean.

In the end – good luck. I hope you are prepared. Eat well, sleep well, and have time negotiated with your schedule and/or significant other. Also, an army of friends ready to cheer you on would hurt either.





5 Ways to Succeed at NaNoWriMo

Before I begin I must be forthright. I’ve never attempted NaNoWriMo. But that does not disqualify me from sharing advice about a literary sprint such as this. How? I’ve done the 3 Day Novel Contest. Yes. NaNoWriMo – in three days.

That contest produced a 25,000 word novella with a wide cast of characters, weaving plot, and horrendous grammar, just like your NaNoWriMo project will.

Know you can do it! Super cliché right? Removing this mental hurdle is key. How do you know you can do it? Break it down. 2,500 words a day = a 75,000 word novel. This is more than adequate for any market.

Remove distractions. Turn off the wifi connector on your writing device. barricade yourself in your room or garage. Whatever you need to do to ensure you have absolute focus. One of my friends listens to music. Another requires silence. Do whatever it is that makes you dial in.

Be healthy. Take breaks. Get proper sleep. Go on walks. Spend time not writing. Spend time reading. Maybe choose one day a week where you don’t write. Don’t avoid it but don’t let your creative well run dry. This is paramount. Write 1,000 words and then go stretch your legs.

Don’t edit. This might be hard or not. But consider this – have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who interrupts you all of the time? Annoying yes? Let your inner artist out. This is not the final draft anyway. If you were a sculptor, your finished draft would be like finding the precise stone to chisel. Believe me, this is an essential ingredient to ensure you do not fall behind and win the competition.

Have your ending in mind. Plot all you want or not at all but have a solid ending. This will keep you going and make sure it will not be a chore to finish, because it can be. And also having your destination in mind will ensure you do not spend 30 hours and 30,000 words on something that does not work or does not interest even you.

I hope you are prepared mentally, physically, and emotionally.

If you have ideas for how you are going to get through this, share them below.



Year End Writing Contests

As we move through the summer at such a rapid pace I began to reflect on the end of the year. I have goals that I wish to accomplish, and I realized some of them might take a bit more time than my usual 5-6 hours a week I spend writing.

I’d like to share some writing contests with you today. Why do I mention them? Because sometimes it is nice to hunker down and get something accomplished. There is something about a writer locked in a cabin that is alluring to me. Disappearing for an extended piece of time and then emerging with the Great American Novel!

So if you want to finish a novel this year, perhaps use the thrill, comradery, and intensity of these contests.


National Novel Writing Month

Here is the link: http://www.nanowrimo.org/

What is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.

3-Day Novel Contest

This is the most notorious contest I know. My writers group has, for the most part, done this each year. I highly recommend this literary adrenaline rush.

Can you produce a masterwork of fiction in three short days? The 3-Day Novel Contest is your chance to find out. For more than 30 years, hundreds of writers step up to the challenge each Labour Day weekend, fuelled by nothing but adrenaline and the desire for spontaneous literary nirvana. It’s a thrill, a grind, a 72-hour kick in the pants and an awesome creative experience. How many crazed plotlines, coffee-stained pages, pangs of doubt and moments of genius will next year’s contest bring forth? And what will you think up under pressure?


1st Prize: Publication*
2nd Prize: $500
3rd Prize: $100

*The first prize winner will be offered a publishing contract by 3-Day Books after the winner announcement in the January following the contest. Once the contract is signed, the winning novel will be edited, published and released by the next year’s contest. 3-Day Books are distributed by Arsenal Pulp Press.

How about you, what opportunities are you taking to finish your novel this year?