NaNo: Word Count Tips

Today I popped over to the NaNoWriMo site and discovered I could win if I had nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participantthe 50k written. I don’t and it’s the first time in years I’m not ready. Just in case you’re with me in this situation and need help to get those last few words down, I thought I’d share my approach.

I take a long look at my outline. Now that most of the work is down, my vision is clearer and I’m able to see what’s missing.

A lot of times I write about the relationships between my characters. Their overlapping backstory and why they feel the way they do about each other. Rarely, do my characters walk into my stories as strangers. Things that come up are old crushes, unfinished business, or grudges. The results add so much depth it boggles my mind.

When you consider the relationships, supporting scenes, plot points and plot twists appear. We all know intertwined subplots strengthen the main plot and reinforce theme.

I check the notes I’ve been writing all month for scenes that need recrafting and all those loose ends that need wrapping up.

Want the right ending? I rewrite endings, changing them until I find the perfect fit. For me that’s more of a hit and miss kind of thing, and I’ve read the first, second, or even third ending isn’t always the best choice. This is one of my works in progress. I’m working toward a logical surprise, but I’m usually too blunt. Lately, I’ve been working on stretching it out and striving toward reader satisfaction.

poppy-1525814_1920If all else fails, start something new and keep going until you hit the magic number. If you’ve run out of things in one storyline, it may mean a sequel is waiting in the wings.

Go off the rails and let your fingers take you where they will. These tips will help even after November is long gone. Don’t put your work in a drawer if the count is too low. Keep searching for ones that work for you.

Did I miss any? Got a suggestion that may save our bacon? Please, share.

Gleaned from:


20 responses to “NaNo: Word Count Tips

  1. Thanks for sharing. As of now I have no tips to share. But will have to crunch out at least 4k words and more to at least end NaNoWriMo with a decent word count.

  2. These are some great tips for those who have put down their entire plot, but still not hit the word count. I like the relationships between characters bit a lot. I’m on track to finish and have tons of story left to write. Just gotta keep putting down words. I’m having fun.

  3. I plan out the characters in detail before writing, and that includes their past and what they want for the future. A character’s goals can be the plot that moves the story.

  4. I finished my actual story this morning – at 42,000 or so words. My plan now is to write some backstory and/or flashback scenes to maybe use during revisions.

    We can do this! 50,000 words, here we come! 🙂

  5. Our writing teacher used to do say that in order to do your daily pages, if sometimes you just write bla, bla, ba, then do so. The act of putting words on the page causes more words to come. I hope that helps. Good luck, Anna. Keep going. You can do it! 🙂

  6. Yes, thanks for sharing this. It applies to every situation not just NaNo. I’ve been working on a ms for a few years and the ending is tough. Just write, right! Then rewrite it, until it’s the right ending. Thanks, Anna.

  7. Angela Wooldridge

    Thanks for sharing Anna. Some of my wordcount is made up of character work and backstory. Stopping to consider what else is going on inside someone’s head at a certain point can give surprising insights. Good luck with hitting your target, I’m starting to feel the pressure!

  8. I’m not doing NaNo, but for the past year, I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to get my 101k word manuscript down to 90k. Sometimes our targets go the other way as well. 🙂

    VR Barkowski

  9. Starting something new can sure help with the word count. I’m a sucker for always wanting to write a sequel.

  10. You can do it! Endings can be difficult. Usually I have a definite ending in mind when I’m writing something. I just have to be careful not to rattle on after everything is tied up at the end.

    • I’m beginning to think writing an ending when nearing the middle of the story is a better idea than waiting until the end.

      But, getting any ending down at all is at least a starting point for revision.

      Truth is, I’ve moved on to a MG story about a boy trying to make a wand, so he can join a magic club. So far I’m having fun and finally, FINALLY, the words are coming.


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