Boosting Your NaNoWriMo Novel Wordcount (Cynic? Moi?)
You may well have seen the internet game going round every November, whereby people decide to write a 50,000 word novel during November, and now Camp NaNoWriMo’s moved to April. If you reach the magic wordcount, you get a nice certificate to show to all your friends.
Last November I noticed that many people seem to be struggling, posting plaintive “I’m 2,000 words behind” “I didn’t make my word count today” type stuff.
Worry not! Help is at hand! Here’s Andy’s infallible guide to PADDING IT OUT. Guaranteed to get you back on track.
1. Describe EVERYTHING
Ensure that each noun is preceded by at least two adjectives and that every sentence contains an adverb.
No more of this “She walked over and opened the door,” stuff.
“She walked briskly across the cold, stone floor towards the heavy, brown, wooden door, where she tentatively grasped the old, black, iron knob before firmly turning it anti-clockwise and sharply pulling it towards her.”
Despite the fact that the average witness to a crime can barely mange to recall the miscreant’s hair colour, ensure that your book describes every aspect of each character’s appearance. Height, weight, hair, length of nose, eye-colour, moles, ear-lobes, dental chart… we NEED to know these things, and they can use up pages.
Never let a character flit through your novel without describing what they are wearing in minute detail. Yes, even the barman. Start every day with the main character dressing.
ALL your main characters need to smoke. This enables you to precede every action with offering and lighting of cigarettes, deep draws being taken, smoke being sucked deep into lungs, cigarettes being sharply crushed out, people thoughtfully looking at the smoke as it curls upwards. Even if the scene takes place underwater or in a cathedral, the hero can still spend a couple of sentences thinking about how badly he needs a cigarette. And don’t forget to mention which brand… there may be a product placement deal in it for you.
4. Food… an absolute godsend
Three times a day you can tell your eager reader the processes involved in making (or ordering) food, setting the table and finally consuming it. Any important conversation should always take place at mealtimes, so you can double the length of each sentence.
“So how do you figure it?” he asked slowly, as he helped himself to a serving of the delicious home-made spinach lasagne.
“I dunno,” she replied slowly, savouring the crunch of the fresh salad vegetables on her palate.
And don’t forget the exact coffee recipe, and which chain it has to come from (see product placement above!)
5. Makers’ names
NEVER allow your hero to pull out a mere “gun” or jump into a “car”. It’s a gold-plated Chanel#5 .38 Magnum Spineblaster with sandalwood stock and Teflon-impregnated bullets. It’s a canary yellow four-wheel drive 2012 Tossmobile with the 3.8 engine, pink velour seats and competition shocks. Handbags, shoes, underwear, they all need to be named.
Spell it out for us. “He flew to Chicago”???? I think not.
There are tickets to be bought, bags to be checked in (Or not, most heroes NEVER check in a bag)…coffee to be drunk in the departure area, stewardesses to be smiled at when boarding, seats to be settled into, inflight meals to be consumed, movies to be watched or ignored, landings to be experienced, passports to be shown, baggage reclaim to be ignored…… WAKE UP AT THE BACK!!
If he’s in a car, describe the city… many readers have never visited a city and will be grateful for the information.
Now, let’s describe the hotel… and dinner of course.
7. Send them jogging
Ah yes, a real word booster, used by famous writers the world over. Milhone, Spenser, Poirot… all the great detectives do it to clear their thought processes. If you can’t burn up 2000 words with them changing clothes, stretching, setting off, an extensive travelogue of the beachfront area followed by showering and changing, then you’re really not trying.
8. Send them to the bedroom
You can do this three or four times per book and use up 10 pages a time. The beauty of it is that you don’t even need to write it yourself. Merely cut and paste some squelchy sex scene from the novel of your choice. (OK, maybe use a different novel for each time they do it… though they’ll all be identical anyway.) Just remember that it must be the best sex that any two people on the planet have ever shared, no casual groping, grunting and going to sleep.
A sure-fire winner. Every character who makes even a fleeting appearance should have his childhood, university qualifications, job history, romantic involvements and personal problems laid out for us. Never mind how you know, you’re the author, you invented them, we need to know!
10. Tell us the plot again
All readers have short attention spans, so will forget what has happened earlier. You can remind them subtly by introducing new characters regularly and having the hero explain to them exactly what has happened so far. In detail.
11. Speech tags
Every phrase needs to have one, and this is where your Thesaurus really earns its money. NEVER use a simple ‘said’ or ‘asked’ and always use at least one adverb. Come on, lots of that ‘he intoned pleadingly’, ‘she stated defiantly’ ‘he enquired with a mixture of confusion and fear written all over his pale face ‘ (go on, show us that expression).
12. NEVER leave anything to the reader’s imagination
Your readers are probably VERY stupid people, so spell everything out for them. NOT ‘he pointed’ but ‘he pointed firmly with his right index finger’ not ‘she took off her shoes’ but ‘she took off her left shoe and placed it on the floor, then repeated the action with the right and placed it next to the first one’.
So, use all my tips and then press TOOLS, WORDCOUNT and you’ll soon see the magic 50,000 figure arrive.
I never did figure out how to do all this, which is why I gave up between 35-45,000 words.
- The Barry Island Murders: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00AZJSLES
- Joe Soap: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BMO38AM
Born in the swamps of Glamorgan, Wales, Andrew has wandered the world, generally with a guitar in hand. He’s now based in a beautiful village in central Spain, where the sun shines, the lake is warm, the drink is cheap, the people and animals are friendly. He shares his place with two gorgeous local cats, more guitars than he can count and a fridge full of wine. And he writes stories; many of them about Otis King, Memphis’ Number One Welsh Blues detective, others about Angels, murderers, failed Super-Villains and ingrowing toenails. Try one or two with a glass of something cold, or a cup of something hot. He hopes they can make you smile.
This blog post certainly did. I shall keep this to hand when I start my first Camp NaNoWriMo on the 1st April. Thank you, Andrew!
Andrew can be stalked… er, I mean found on:
- Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6454072.Andrew_Peters) and
- Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/andynpeters)
and his books on
- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Andrew-Peters/e/B008PDVKBM and
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