Life After NaNoWriMo

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There’s only four more days left of NaNoWriMo, which means if you’re on track you only have 6 666 words left to write. It’s exciting now, you’re so close to finishing, so close to having a finished manuscript in your hands. But what next?

 

For the unfinished novel

Commercial adult fiction tends to be around 100 000 words in length, and young adult fiction 80 000 words. This means that if you started your novel fresh at the start of NaNoWriMo you’re now only about half way through it. So what’s your plan for writing the rest of your novel? Are you going to continue writing as if you’re still doing the writing challenge? Or are you going to have a month off before writing the rest? Either way, having a plan of some sort or a daily target will help you to achieve your goal.

 

For the finished manuscript

Well done! Finishing NaNoWriMo means you’ve now finished your novel. You should be feeling very proud of yourself, and perhaps a little exhausted too. There are so many routes you can go down now. First though, have a month off. Just leave your manuscript for a month. Don’t touch it, try not to even think about it, because when you go back to it you’ll want a clear head.

With the New Year you may want to edit your work. This means going through it and changing everything you don’t like, checking it over until you’ve got a product you’re happy with. If you’re not quite sure what to look for, that’s fine. We’ll be posting a whole month of editing tips in January for you to follow.

Maybe you don’t want to edit straight away. You might have a sequel planned that you just can’t wait to get writing, or perhaps you’d just really like half a year away from the novel that has consumed your November. Either way, do whatever feels best for you.

 

For your writing

NaNoWriMo can be really useful for getting into a routine with your writing. If the routine you found suits you, stick to it. Keep on writing every day, whether it’s your next novel or a writing exercise. You’ll find that writing is like most things in life – the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.

If you really struggled keeping up with NaNoWriMo, try making a routine that’s a little less intense. You could aim for half an hour of writing each day, or 1000 words. This way there’s less to do and less pressure, so you’re more likely to stick with it. Make sure you give yourself a day off each week to refresh or to catch up on the days you missed during the week.

 

So that’s it, three of the routes you can go down at the end of NaNoWriMo. You’ve got a few more days to go first, but if you made it this far we’re sure you’ll easily be able to finish the rest. Good luck, and we’ll see you again in December.

Writing Your Ending

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It’s almost the end of NaNoWriMo, which means you’ll soon be writing the end of your novel. Do you know what’s going to happen yet? Or are you just waiting to see what happens when you start writing? There are many different types of endings you can choose from, so here’s a few ideas to get you thinking.

 

The happy ending

Most readers love this type of ending, and it ties up a book perfectly. It tends to work best for stand-alone novels, although can sometimes work for individual novels in a series too. In this sort of ending your protagonist wins. They win the battle at the end, they defeat the antagonist, they win the heart of the love interest. Basically, that thing your readers really want to happen has to happen. Everything should be tied up in a happy little bow so your reader walks away with a smile on their face.

 

The cliff-hanger

The works best for books that are part of a series, as it makes the reader want to read the next part of the story. To write an ending like this, you need to leave your protagonist in some sort of dangerous situation or with some unresolved problem, whether that be that they’re about to go into battle or figuring out they’re pregnant with their ex’s baby. You need to create some sort of problem that doesn’t get solved, a question that doesn’t get answered. Something needs to be left hanging so that the story doesn’t feel finished.

 

The tear jerker

It’ll kill you to write it, but these endings are sometimes the best types of endings. They really have to pull at your reader’s heartstrings. This usually means killing a well-loved character, or giving the protagonist some really bad news. Whatever it is, it needs to be something big enough to make your reader cry. After a whole novel of making your reader love a character, you’ve got to take something away from them. Thomas Hardy is amazing at writing this sort of ending, so if you’re stuck for ideas check out some of his books.

 

The twist

I am a huge fan of twist endings, and they’re really fun to write too. All the way through the novel your reader thinks something is going to happen, so what you’ve got to do at the end is make the opposite happen. Make them think your protagonist is going to marry Mr Smith, then have her leave him for Miss Jones instead. Do something unexpected, something your readers don’t see coming, and you’ll give them a shock they’re bound to love you for.

 

The one-liner

These are more commonly found in short stories, but can work just as well for novels too. I’m not saying end your story with ‘and it was all a dream’, if anything I’m saying don’t do that! Just have a sentence that opens up the possibilities for another story without the promise of one. Your novel can still be tied up nicely with this, it’ll just give something for your reader to think about. For example, at the end of a romance about a woman choosing between two men, you could write Helena put her swollen, shaking hand to her belly and smiled, or something like that. It hints that there’s a baby there and makes the reader think about it, but doesn’t necessarily say there’s another story to come. All it does is show the reader that life for your character continues beyond the words you’ve written.

 

Do you have a favourite type of ending that you just love to read or write? My favourite is in Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. Share yours in the comments section below, but no spoilers!

3 Ways to Make Your Writing Better

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Vary your sentence length

Writing only in long sentences can make a story seem like it’s dragging, and all short sentences makes it seem like it’s constantly stopping and breaking up unnaturally. So mix it up. Change between different sentence lengths, but don’t just vary them randomly with no thought behind it. Use long sentences when describing a person or a scene, followed by a short one to show an action someone is taking. Varying sentence length can also really build tension, and a short sentence in the midst of long ones can provide emphasis. Jon McGregor’s writing is a great example of how to use sentences of various lengths effectively, especially in his novel If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things.

Use dialogue well

Pages upon pages of dialogue can get a bit boring, and not enough dialogue can become really hard to read. Dialogue should be used to show what a character is thinking, to reveal something new to your protagonist or to move the story on. If two characters are having a long conversation that you fell is essential to the story, that’s fine, leave it in, but try to break it up a bit. Break the speech up with descriptions, of the room, the person talking or the sound of the coffee shop behind them. Anything small will help to keep the story going strong.

Make sure to be careful with the dialogue tags you use too. For those of you that are unsure, dialogue tags are the words used to describe how someone says something, for example said or exclaimed. My advice would be to stick to said most of the time. Overusing more descriptive and emotive tags can take away from their meaning, so only use them for emphasis when you really want to get across how your character is feeling. This means only using exclaimed when your character really is exclaiming something.

Break stereotypes

Readers like to see something new, because believe it or not we are actually bored of those age-old stereotypes that have existed for way too many years. We want you as a writer to surprise us and give us something new, and the best way to do that is to give us an unexpected character. So your love interest is a hunky 6ft man with dark hair and a tan, so what? It doesn’t surprise us, it’s the norm in fiction so we don’t think anything of it and don’t particularly relate to it. But what if your love interest was a 5’5” rugby player with acne and a love for agriculture? That’s something new and interesting and makes us want to know more. It also gives you as a writer the opportunity to really develop this new character into something your readers will love. Take The Big Bang Theory for example. Yes, it’s a TV show, but it has the same concept. They’ve made a short nerd the love interest for the pretty girl, and that’s one reason why the show has done so well. It’s a new concept that viewers aren’t used to seeing, so they want to see more.

There’s just 3 of our tips on how to make your writing better. If you’re already doing these things, that’s great! If not, try sneaking them into your NaNoWriMo and see if you think they make a difference to your writing. Or do you disagree with us? Do you think stereotypes make readers feel more at home with your writing? Let us know in the comments below.

Writing Prompt Tuesday

Hemsley's Editorial Services Writing Prompt

We’ve decided to start posting our very own writing prompts every Tuesday to help you get writing. Here’s our first one! Feel free to share what you write from it with us in the comments section below.

Motivating Yourself to Write

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How’s NaNoWriMo going? We’re on day 6 already, which means that by now you should have written 10 000 words. This is the first proper milestone in NaNoWriMo, the first big step, and you know it won’t be the last. If you write 10 000 words every 6 days you’ll soon have 50 000 words, you’ll soon reach your goal. But are you struggling? Are you finding it hard to find time every day to write those words? Motivating yourself to really go for the challenge can be hard, so here’s a few ways to make it easier.

Join writing groups

There are plenty of online writing groups, particularly on Facebook, and joining one can help to motivate you to write. These groups are full of really nice people (some of which are successful, published writers) that support each other and give lots of helpful little tips. They’re two way streets of course. You’ll become a part of a community where everyone helps each other out and that takes time out of your usual schedule, but you’ll soon find that it’s a community you’re lucky to be a part of.

Create a reward system

You like watching TV, like having a cheeky Kit Kat every now and then? Make these rewards for yourself. Tell yourself that for every 500 or 1000 words you write you can have a snack, go for a run, watch TV, anything that motivates you to write those words. Aiming for numerous small goals rather than the big one can prove to be very beneficial to your writing and will make you feel like you’re really achieving something. It won’t be long before you’ve written a novel or two!

Read

For most of us, reading is what inspired us to become writers. I know a lot of people say you shouldn’t read whilst writing because you could find yourself mimicking other authors, but I just find it motivational. So Agatha Christie gets me in the mood for writing, so what? I’m going to read some of her work and then write my own, because that’s what inspires me to finish writing that next chapter. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same as hers, it just means I know what inspires me and what makes me write.

Create a schedule

Some people find schedules to be hindering, but for others it can prove to be really useful when finding time to write, especially if you have a busy lifestyle. So you know that you’re free for an hour on a Monday night whilst your daughter is at football. Use that time to write, schedule it in as writing time to make sure you do it. Doing this not only makes sure you get writing done, but it also gets you into a routine that you’ll soon find hard to break.

Have you been doing anything else to motivate yourself to write this November? Let us know in the comments below.