Huffpost Books

NaNoWriMo Writers Keep Motivated

Posted: Updated:
NANOWRIMO
alamy

National Novel Writing Month, a task urging authors of all backgrounds to pen 50,000 words before November 30th, is halfway over. We've already asked writers working on young adult books, thrillers and literary fiction to share their goals, distractions and sacrifices. This week, they've revealed their favorite sentences and the inspiration for their characters.

Here are their stories:

Barry, Colorado
@BarryJHickey
Writing "The Witch With 300 Hats," a YA novel about a pair of adventuresome twins

What's your favorite sentence so far?
“Unlike snotty kids, the dead don't talk back most of the time."

How many words have you written?
18,056. I’m 7,000 words short! But I do have a 4-day weekend over Thanksgiving!

Is there any similarity between any of your characters and people you know?
I’ve been picking kids from my youth as general references and have been mixing and matching first and last names for pleasure. All of my novels pay small homage to names of people I have known without getting into libel.

How are you motivating yourself to keep going?
I always have fun when I know where a story is headed, then an unexpected scene pops up and I run with it. It’s like channeling. I write as fast as my brain and fingers allow. It’s the most exciting part of the creation process for me. Whether it survives as a part of the finished product remains to be seen.

Halfway there now! Do you know how your book will end?
I did when I started, but it has shifted dramatically. As with all my books, the ending will show itself when it is ready.

Chelsea, Dallas
@VampBookClub
Writing a romantic paranormal book involving mythology

What's your favorite sentence so far?
Most of my favorite lines are dialogue thus far. This bit is from a new favorite character, after discovering the heroine doesn't know anything about imps: “You’re not completely human, so I thought you’d be not completely an idiot. I stand corrected.”

How many words have you written?
25,685

Is there any similarity between any of your characters and people you know?
While none of my characters directly relate to people I know, one of my heroine’s quirks comes from my husband.

There are a few things my loving husband does repeatedly because he knows they irritate me and gets a kick out of seeing me flustered. My heroine has a little nickname for the hero. She used it once in jest and he was so bothered by it, she’s kept it up. Not because it’s particularly funny, but because she enjoys seeing him drop his emotional guard enough to get riled.

How are you motivating yourself to keep going?
Writing buddies are key. Having others check in on my word count each night is a great motivation. If we’re all behind, the group will have a writing sprint. We’ll check back after an allotted time and compare word counts. Nothing motivates me like a challenge. Though, I have to admit, my friend Kelly writes far faster than I do. I have yet to win a word war against the woman.

Halfway there now! Do you know how your book will end?
I do! I knew how my story was going to end when I began the project. Filling in the journey to the epic ending continues to be fun.

Sonja, Wisconsin
@SJWhipp
Writing a financial crime thriller

What's your favorite sentence you've written so far?
It's hard to pick a favorite sentence, but here's one I enjoy: "Melanie, ever the decorous one, had already returned to her slip and had her hair pinned up into a perfect bun."

How many words have you written?
A little over 17,000.

Is there any similarity between any of your characters and people you know?
My characters don't really resemble any people that I know per se, but I'd say all of them have elements of people that I know. There is one character in the novel, Jocelin, who has personal struggles that are very similar to some of the struggles of some families I've worked with in schools--low income, balancing several jobs while trying to raise two children alone.

How are you motivating yourself to keep going?
Pride is a huge motivator for me. I imagine what it will feel like to have a 50,000 word story under my belt and that keeps me going. Also, loud music has helped me to get into the zone.

Halfway there now! Do you know how your book will end?
I know exactly how my book will end. I've been creating a master outline as I've been writing and as ideas have popped into my head, so I have a clear idea of where I'm going. The question is, will I get there on time?

Spenser, Kentucky
@feverdreamy
Writing a personal fiction piece about undergraduate English majors

What's your favorite sentence you've written so far?
"Apparently Ben used to meditate with Rand and talked a lot about “crazy wisdom,” a concept Moody never fully grasped but seemed to mean that Ben could do a shitload of drugs and fuck a shitload of random rave girls and it was still acceptable to talk about how his friends didn’t understand the nature of their minds and desires as long as he got in his twenty minutes of meditation every morning and evening."

How many words have you written?
22,877 words.

Is there any similarity between any of your characters and people you know?
Yes, absolutely. Almost all of the characters are inspired by real people in my life, though none of the characters are anything close direct reproductions of the people they're based on. The people I base my characters on are generally starting points which I then build upon.

How are you motivating yourself to keep going?
I suffered a slump at the end of last week, but I'm slowly recovering now. The good thing about the way I've structured my piece is that it focuses on a group of characters rather than any one, so if I'm stuck with one I can work on another. But if I feel truly unmotivated, I just make bad things happen to my characters until I feel sorry enough for them that I'm compelled to help them out of whatever trouble they're in.

Halfway there now! Do you know how your book will end?
I have some vague ideas. All I know is that I'll end it with one of the characters off by themselves, alone. For much of the story, the characters feel alone in various ways, but they are not actually alone. I want to contrast that in the final scenes.

Wil, California
@WilJames_author
Writing a YA book about a modern day prince with a dysfunctional family

What's your favorite sentence so far?
The sentence is part of a dialogue. “I truly don’t know where this will take us, but one thing I do know: By knowing all of you, I have picked a road for us to travel down, and I am certain it’s the right road.”

How many words have you written?
I’m at 27,383 words, but now I think the book might end before the numbers reach 50,000. However, I don’t want to pad the book with extra words just to reach the numerical goal. As my fellow profiled author Connor said, the most important thing is to finish the book.

Is there any similarity between any of your characters and people you know?
Oh, yes, I’ve got elements of people I know in most of my characters. For example, many aspects of Janice’s personality (my favorite character - from last week's HuffPostBooks article) are taken from my sister’s caring and supportive nature. Two unbelievably talented and motivated kids named Lori and Ben, whom I coached a few years ago, provide the inspiration for the skills and thoughts of those performing dives from springboard and tower platform. A 13-year-old family member, who often thinks and talks like a 30-something adult, provides the inspiration for Zachary, who is a role model and mentor for David.

How are you motivating yourself to keep going?
Quite honestly, part of my motivation to keep going is having to post NaNoWriMo numbers and report to HuffPostBooks readers each week. Sure, I really enjoy writing, but usually on my own timetable. Once I sit down and start a writing session, it’s great, but I often procrastinate by looking at twitter, or writing for my blogs, or just reading. Right now, I am pushing myself more this month than ever before, and I would not be doing that if it were not for NaNoWriMo.

Halfway there now! Do you know how your book will end?
Yes, more or less. I know how the series (of five planned books) will end, as I recently wrote the very emotional last 6,000 words of book 5. As to the end of this book 2, I know that the book will end after a great event involving a maritime disaster and a rescue helicopter, but beyond that I’m not sure of the specifics of the ending.

Lara, New York
@districtbelle
Writing a fiction novel about getting back in touch with her Southern roots

What's your favorite sentence so far?
Religion had been a bit of a tension point when we dated as I’d grown up strict Southern Baptist, meaning alcohol was to be feared and everything Republican, revered.

How many words have you written?
19,006

Is there any similarity between any of your characters and people you know?
Most are loosely based on people I know since I'm new to fiction and still thinking through all of the nuances of creating well-rounded characters. For the most part, I took the general ideas of acquaintances of mine (not all close friends) and have tweaked from there. I've been having fun with exploring how to make them likable in spite of those inevitable flaws that make them real.

How are you motivating yourself to keep going?
I usually shy away from reading (lack of time) for the month, but I'm discovering reading just a bit of my favorite writing book, Stephen Kings "On Writing", helps to get me thinking. I'm not letting his anti-adverb rants derail me though - I have December to spend on editing and anticipate lots of adverbs will be sacrificed then! I'm also following several writing accounts on Twitter that have wonderful words of encouragement and/or compilations of writing tips, such as @aswinn, @elizabethscraig, @michelewells, @inkyelbows and, of course, @NaNoWordSprints, who provides great writing prompts.

Halfway there now! Do you know how your book will end?
High-level, yes, but I'm trying to let my characters have a bit of a life of their own and see how they get to that finish line I've set for them. Endings for me usually require a lot of thought, so I won't be surprised if I get to 50k and I'm not quite at the end!

Around the Web

National Novel Writing Month

25 Things You Should Know About NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Brings Writing Incentives

NaNoWriMo is back – and hotter than ever

NaNoWriMo is upon us

NaNoWriMo Tip #13: “Obvious to you. Amazing to others.”

Filed by Maddie Crum