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Sick of Your NaNoWriMo Novel? Don't Despair, Transform It!

Sick of Your NaNoWriMo Novel? Don't Despair, Transform It!

By Melissa Albert

Sparklers, I have a confession.

I am bored of my NaNo novel.

Because I suspect it is actually very terrible.

While it's easy in the first half of NaNoWriMo to tell yourself that the point isn't to write something good, but just to WRITE, it gets increasingly difficult in the back half, when your hands start to type sentences that might as well be, "butts butts butts butts," considering how little interest anyone will ever have in reading them.

But I committed to FINISHING THIS THANG, and so I shall. By entirely changing my novel, before I go mad with boredom, encase my laptop in concrete, and throw it down a very deep well! (I'm pretty sure I would come home only to find it waiting for me on my pillow, soaking wet, with my NaNo doc open and staring accusingly at me from the screen.) Here are some ways to kill off your boredom by transforming your book:

Kill off your Main Character (MC). Hey, remember when you thought that Game of Thrones was going to kick off a series about a nice, brave man of the north named Ned Stark saving a kingdom and making sure everything was cool? Remember how that turned out? For the Song of Ice and Fire series, the death of an ostensible main character (though not the only main character in that ginormous series) was actually just the beginning of the action. Kill off someone you intended to keep, and see where the story takes you.

Make your MC into a pathological liar...and they're about to start telling the truth. What could that mean? Maybe it means your MC is actually the bad guy, and they've been lying all this time about their efforts to save the kingdom or win the guy—when in fact they want to overthrow from within, or get romantic revenge. Or they could be writing from inside a prison, or an underground bunker, or an isolated cabin in the woods, inventing the completely different life that you've given them in the first pages of your story. It's hard to do this without making the book a little bit of a horror story, which brings us to...

Change the genre. Did you think you were telling a dark tale of angsty love, but can't bear to write for one more day from inside the head of your protagonist, Broody McFrownsalot? Then try changing it to a comedy, or an absurdist tale, or even a murder mystery! (Kill off Broody!) Or, best of all: add magic. Everything's going along just fine (i.e., boringly), when suddenly your MC realizes they can read peoples' minds. Or they catch their mom levitating the family dog. Or they turn on the TV to find the president giving a highly unplanned emergency press conference on the growing warlock threat. You'll get to grow your writing chops in new ways, just in time for the NaNoWriMo home stretch!

Sudden travel plans. So your MC has spent most of your novel bouncing between work, their best friend's place, and home, or the enchanted woods, magic school, and the wizard café, or the space station, the surface of the moon, and the, um, alien bar. Why not get them the heck outta Dodge? With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling dared to keep HarRoniome off the train to Hogwarts, totally breaking the rules of her previous books. And so many stories don't really take hold until their character leaves their (geographic) comfort zone. Right, Bilbo?

This is also the path I'm planning to take with my dreadful first-draft novel. It's definitely time my character went on a journey.

How's your novel coming along? Are you loving it, hating it, or trying not to think too hard about anything but typing it?

Topics: Books, Life, Advice
Tags: writing, advice, nanowrimo, storytelling, writing advice, good ideas

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About the Author
Melissa Albert

Melissa Albert reads books, worries about other people’s dogs (they look thirsty), and eats horrible candy for fun and profit. When not wearing her extremely tasteful Sparkitor hat, she’s an editor for the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. You can find her on Twitter @mimi_albert, or in the hot pretzel section of your local cafeteria.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.