Friday, November 13, 2020

NaNoWriMo Midpoint Motivation

We are closing out the second week in November, and for those participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), this is where the going gets tough. We have made it past the excitement of stepping headfirst into our new story, we have established our main character and the conflict they will face, and they are off on their journey. We probably have 20-30,000 words typed up, and a pretty good idea of where the story will conclude. The problem is, we have this long gap between our current location and where we want to be. This area is called Act Two, and it's a tough one.

Have you ever taken a long road trip, preferably with a bunch of people? Driving eight hours to a very exciting destination? Think about the first hour - getting away from the familiar territory, heading into the great unknown. There's a lot of road ahead but you don't care; it's all about the excitement of the adventure ahead. Every mile takes you away from what you know and into something new and great. How can it be any better than that?

Once we are on the road for three hours, the excitement kind of dies down. There are more new things, but the adrenaline rush has died down. We don't have the tingle of getting away, but there is no sign of the destination. This is the part of the road trip where there better be a few singalongs in the car, some snacks, and perhaps a mix tape or two to keep the ride engaging. Otherwise, the drive becomes boring and time slows down to a crawl.

In fact, this is where the writer finds their version of car games and mix tapes. These come in the form of additional supporting characters, surprise turns and twists, or even some internal conflict where the main character questions whether the hero's journey is really what they want to do. The last one is the easiest to do, but they all have a place in the story.

Whenever writing gets a little cumbersome and the story isn't progressing, the moment of self-doubt is a great mechanism to insert into the story just to remind yourself about what the story is really about. (You can delete it later if you don't like it.) Think of your own personal moments where you thought about ending your journey or turning around - stopping your NaNoWriMo project being a prime example. Examine the doubts you have, the reasons you offer that would allow you to stop. Think about those feelings, and insert them into your main character's head. How do those thoughts translate to your hero's journey? Can they just turn around? Is it impossible to stop but they find it difficult to carry on? Start writing about that in a captured moment, and see what that character thinks.

As an aside, sometimes it might be difficult to write about the doubts your character might have. If this is the case, you might want to take a little time to try and understand your character and think from their point of view. After all, they are your character, so you know them better than anyone else. If you take a little time just thinking as they do, you can hopefully find where their weaknesses and vulnerabilities are, and what might make them resist going forward. And if there is nothing that would stop your character from moving forward, then maybe the conflict should be external - the roadblock on the way to the goal.

Ultimately, the choice is yours, but there is opportunity here. The moment you take to put doubt in the minds of those in the story creates a tension the reader will be able to feel and appreciate. Furthermore, it will make the writing go by that much faster, and before you know it, your road trip is just flying by.

Keep on writing!

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