Lessons from NaNoWriMo 2012

image borrowed from here
"I can see why they call this the Devil’s vessel." Phil’s face had darkened again, which was both unnerving and attractive at the same time. "On every descent, time slows until it stops, until we’re suspended in this godforsaken chasm that time can’t penetrate. It’s hard to tell if you’re tired, or if you’re hungry, and you wait it through, anxious for the return of daylight."

Others will insist that you need a plan. Honestly, you don’t. A plot outline can help you stick to your main idea, but if you are blessed with a good memory or you are able to keep track of characters and conflicts as you go, the lack of a plan will not hinder your ability to write a convincing story.

When it comes to writing, don’t hesitate. Edit later. If need be, restrict access to past work. Edit later. Sit down and write now. Edit later. When you're at a loss, write flashbacks. Those might require a little rearranging, but it doesn't hurt to give the reader insight into a character's prerogative.

There are only so many visuals to describe aboard a steel train, 4000 metres below sea level. There are only so many descriptions to be made once the power goes out, and everyone is left in the dark. Avoid repetition. A character's imagination is incredibly valuable.

You definitely need a theme song. No worries if you don't find one at first. It'll come.


Entertain using dialogue. Unless your story is a comedy, remove jokes from the prose, excepting dry wit or sardonic humour from a character's perspective.

Brush up on grammar the weeks leading up to National Novel Writing Month. It pains me to read my 2008 plot when so little of it makes sense, and so much of it was written in Notepad. (YOLO?) But seriously. Make sure you've got twenty synonyms on hand for "said", and know how to use a semi-colon.

The sun streamed in through her window three hours later. Shielding her eyes from the bright light, Yvonne put on her only pair of semi-formal trousers. The bathroom was occupied, and from the sounds of it, Grace was in the shower. She ran into Chris in the hallway. His periwinkle blue shirt looked much more comfortable than Yvonne’s blouse.
“Sleep well?”
“No,” she replied truthfully. “You?”
“I did alright,” he ran a hand over his head. “Today shouldn’t be too taxing. Orientation, and that’s about it. We’ll play the name game twenty times.” He motioned for her to walk ahead.
“Sounds like fun.”
“Sounds better than my last job already.”
Phil was downstairs working the griddle. He lifted a spatula in greeting.
“Dude, I found the eggs,” he told Chris.
“No, I found the eggs. Did you guys go grocery shopping yesterday?” Yvonne asked Phil in an accusatory tone.
“Be glad we did,” he laughed. “First ones here and there was no food.”
“Looks like it’s just your car,” Chris noted. “You didn’t drive here, Yvonne?”
“I don’t drive,” Yvonne admitted.
“Smart girl,” Phil said, flipping the omelette in the pan. “Gasoline is costing me an arm and a leg these days. Electric trains are the way to go.”
“What was your last job?” Yvonne directed her attention to Chris, who was busy emptying a single-serving carton of milk.
“I worked as an intern in a publishing room. It was hell. Have you ever seen the Devil Wears Prada?”
“I love that movie.”
“Yeah?” he licked his milk moustache away. “Well, that movie made magazine publishing look like a dream.”
“That bad, huh?” Phil cracked two more eggs and scooped a handful of ham into the pan. “Who was the devil?”
“God, the entire firm was stuck up enough. No one knew you, and no one cared.”
“Angst, much?”
“If only.” Chris handed the first omelette to Yvonne, who turned it back to him. The brunette shrugged and dug right in. “Nah, this should be an improvement.”
“Because people cook for you,” Phil suggested.
“Because people cook for me,” Chris agreed through a mouthful of breakfast.

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