Nano tips to boost your word count

I’m a word count warrior when it comes to Nano. It helps that writing is my full time job. It also helps that I type really fast, but I don’t think that’s the only reason behind my sometimes epic word counts. I think what helps is that I write EVERYTHING I’m thinking.

So, I had a character involved in a fight scene. It was going well, and then I realized that said character needs to have an epiphany either at the beginning of this fight or maybe a tiny epiphany as she’s fighting. Since I didn’t know which I’d ultimately choose, and since I didn’t want to slow down and really think about where to put it and how long it should be, I just injected this really long epiphany right there in the middle of the fight.

Will I leave it? Hell no! Once I edit, it’s either going to get moved or cut down (probably both), but that’s the work of editing, something I don’t even think of during the rough draft/nano stage of writing.

And that’s the secret. Suddenly, I have more words for my daily word count, but I also have tons of notes written in narrative form. I have lots of choices when I go back to edit. I do the same thing when I decide I want a character to have an intense emotional reaction. I’ll think, I want sadness here, so I’ll write, “She was sad.” But that’s deadly dull, so I’ll expand on it and expand on it and decide if I want her to be the saddest she’s ever been. Then I’ll expand on that, add in a few physical reactions, way too many.

Words, words, words! And choices! This is what I love the most about writing first drafts, all the wonderful choices I give myself. I overwrite, and then I can do another of my favorite things, which is cutting huge chunks out of my work, really streamlining it and making it all fight tightly together. The rough draft is like piling huge amounts of clay onto my worktable, and then editing is sloughing off large bits before all the real sculpting and polishing.

Maybe I’m a little crazy for liking that so much, but I guarantee you’ll buff your word count if you try it, and then you’ll have a lot of raw material to play with. And those parts that I cut? I don’t throw them away. I keep them in a separate folder to use at another time or maybe on another project if I just like them. You don’t always have to murder your darlings. Sometimes, you just lock them in a cupboard. Nano-er or serial killer, you decide.

Do you do the same when you write a rough draft, or do you edit as you go? Any nano tips you’d like to share?

Now, just for your pleasure, here are my dogs in a Halloween costume I bought on sale:

Daisy

Daisy

Polly

Polly

The eyes light up. We’re totally trick or treating next year. “What? This is my child dressed as a dog dressed as a dinosaur. Give us candy.”

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9 thoughts on “Nano tips to boost your word count

  1. You can trick or treat at my house any time. I always have (dog) cookies. (I have to plan ahead for candy though.) 🙂

    Writing tips: What you do is almost like writing in stream of consciousness. I wish I could do that but I’m too anal retentive. I tend to write only the bare bones and layer it later.

  2. My Inner Editor is a beastly b*tch. It is crazy-hard to stuff her in some unused storeroom in my mind so I can free write so easily. Sometimes I manage locking her away for a bit but she manages to bypass the security, scale the barbed wire fencing and uses her laser eyes to burn a hole through ten feet of steel to get back on the job of editing-while-I-draft.
    But I keep trying 🙂

    And your darlings are cute. Had you come by where we were handing out candy, you would’ve gotten plenty of candy!

  3. I love the Halloween plans!

    I’ve never done NaNo and I don’t worry a lot about word count, but I think I do very much the same thing you do. I almost never write notes (back story and whatever), I just stick in extra exposition that will get cut before the editing is over.

    Oh, and yes, always save the trimmings for later. They’re often very useful. One character I wrote in a short story made some of my beta readers very uneasy (to the detriment of the story), so I removed her (and then I ended up making her a major character in a novella I wrote later).

  4. Super helpful! I missed three days due to illness (and watching Maleficent last night) so I’ve got to pump out over 8K before I go to bed tomorrow night.

    This is my first attempt at writing anything much longer than 500 words so it’s a little intimidating. I’m going to give your tips a shot – OVERWRITE!

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