Several years ago, I read that over a quarter of a million people participate in NaNoWriMo each year, yet it seems to me that the program has a questionable record. How many good novels come out of it?
The answer I think is, “Far fewer than there should be.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a burst writer. I like to take a writing retreat to focus on a big project. But when you’re straining to reach a page goal, or a word-count goal, then a few bad things begin to happen.
Here is a list of them.
- The writer doesn’t take time to research. She might not get on the internet to do research at all. Even worse, she may not visit actual places to get the details right.
- The author doesn’t take time to fully imagine his scenes. In other words, he might not imbue them with the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, textures, emotions, thoughts, and movements that are necessary to bring a scene to life.
- The writer might not properly consider the complex motivations of her protagonists, antagonists, and so on when considering the intricacies of the scenes.
- The author might not consider how to twist the story in unexpected ways, having characters take unexpected courses that will lead to surprising plot turns.
Because of these problems, novels written too hastily often feel thin or underdeveloped, and inexperienced writers often feel baffled when considering how to fix them.
If this sounds like you, take heart. Most novels can be fixed. All you need to do is slow down, take your time, stretch your imagination to get the details that you’re looking for, and start on a rewrite.
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