Posted by Mark Withall: 2012-11-04

My word count is up to 7695 words. This is very pleasing as it is ahead of the target.

Today I shall describe my approach to structuring novels to make them easier to write during NaNoWriMo.

The first year that I did NaNoWriMo (2009) I chose to write 100 chapters of 500 words each. That way I could come up with a simple concept to cover for each chapter and not have to write too much about it. This worked very well but didn’t allow much elaboration on ideas during a chapter.

In 2010, I changed to an approach of writing a chapter per day (30 chapters in total). This was subdivided into three parts of 10 chapter each. This worked much better, in that it allowed me to be much more expansive in my writing but on the downside it led to a lot of waffling in places that didn’t warrant a chapter of that length.

I tried a more fluid approach in 2011, where I wrote until I had finished a chapter. I ended up with a total 20 chapters; plus a prologue and epilogue. This didn’t really deal with the random waffling problem but that is probably a side effect for forcing myself to invent 50,000 words in one month.

This year, I’ve gone back to the 30 chapters of around 1667 words each, splitting each into a random number of scenes, as required. So far, the approach seems to be working but I’d have preferred to work out what the 30 chapters were going to be in advance, so I would be sure that the story would reach the end at the right time and cover all the content.

I find this sort of structural approach to NaNoWriMo to help me get through it more easily. It probably doesn’t help towards getting particularly good content though but that’s another problem.

I shall defer the discussion of this year’s novel’s content until next time, due to wanting to keep the length of these posts fairly short (so as not to bore anyone; particularly myself when proof-reading).