Help! NaNoWriMo Woes

We’re now on day 23 of NaNoWriMo, and I am very woeful. Apart from being 5 days behind on my word count (noooooo), I’ve also encountered a very frustrating problem that I’m hoping y’all might have some advice for me on.

Essentially, my story is going to be too long. Like, massively too long. I’ve spent the past two years turning this story over in my mind, working out all the details and character arcs and whatnot. But now that I’m putting it on paper, it’s way too long. I just hit 63k words, and I’m not even at the halfway point yet. Not even close. Right now, the story’s looking to be 150k+ words. Which, for a YA novel, is … not good.

So I’m basically looking for suggestions on how to proceed. Obviously the book can’t stay that long. But what’s my best option for dealing with this?

A) Keep writing, and finish the first draft. Once it’s all done, go back, re-read, and re-evaluate the story. Cut out unnecessary scenes, tighten phrasing, etc., and get it down to a reasonable word count.

B) Stop writing. Re-read what I’ve got and tighten it up now, so I can keep writing off a solid base.

C) Keep writing, and finish the first draft. Don’t go crazy cutting scenes — just let the story be how long it needs to be. If that’s too long for traditional YA books, either embrace it and publish anyway, or pursue other publishing formats — i.e., release the story in multiple parts (ala Lord of the Rings) at a reduced price

D) Whatever y’all can come up with!

Right now I’m leaning toward option A, because I figure getting it all down on paper first is my best bet before I start chopping stuff. But I welcome any and all suggestions!

While you come up with awesome advice for me, please also enjoy the very chill unrelated media of the day.


(Very Chill) Unrelated Media of the Day:

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , | 33 Comments

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33 thoughts on “Help! NaNoWriMo Woes

  1. I like the idea of making it a multiple. I am a firm believer in letting stories become what they are meant to…and have to keep myself from trying to steer too much. I think it would be amazing as a part 1/part 2 (or 3).
    I vote for keep it going and see where it takes you and then worry about it’s final product after first draft is done 😀

    • I’m actually really liking the idea of making it a 2-parter. The thing with that is I’ll need to make sure the parts are each complete stories in their own right. Nothing annoys readers more than reading a story, having it end abruptly on a cliffhanger, and being like, “Wait. What? That’s the end? But nothing was resolved! Ahhh!” Even on TV shows with multiple seasons, there might be a cliffhanger leading into the next season, and story arcs might continue into the next season, but there’s at least some sort of resolution for what happened in the current season. Hmmm …

      • But you can decide where to cut it when the draft is done. Where will it make sense to your reader. Give them some resolution but also make them want more!!!

        • Excellent point! I’m thinking I could do something like write out a point-by-point summary of what happens, then figure out the natural stopping points from there, and tweak the plot as necessary. Ooooh, so much to do, so little time!

  2. Wish I had your problems Michelle – my novels always end up being too short! Anyway, I agree and think it’s enough to just get the draft down for Nano and decide what to do with it after 🙂 i.e. make it a 2-parter!!

    • As they say, you can’t edit a blank page. I’m definitely thinking I should write it all out and then figure out just what the heck to do with it, lol. Thanks for the advice!

  3. I tend to write long stories, so my opinion is rather skewed. Personally, I think judging a book by its length can lead to the story becoming either stretched or a little hollow. So I’d recommend ‘A’ with a little bit of ‘C’ down the road. I guess my advice boils down to finish what you have, edit when the time comes, and don’t remove stuff solely for the sake of word count. I’ve done that in both directions and I’ve regretted it every time.

    • I’m definitely leaning toward this idea. It usually takes me till the end of a first draft to properly figure out the story anyway, and then I can go back and make it all align accordingly. I was just planning on writing part 1 of the trilogy, but it’s really all one big story … oh man, I’m going to have a 300k word manuscript sitting in my drawer, aren’t I?

      • That’s a lot of dead tree slices. Maybe you shouldn’t print it out all at once?

        • I meant that metaphorically 🙂 I don’t think I’ve physically printed out a manuscript in a few years now. All virtual all the time! Except for when I’m proofing print copies. That obviously requires a print proof copy.

  4. It’s either A) or C) (or D)) – stopping is not an option. Kudos on getting so much done during NaNoWriMo. This will be my best NaNoWriMo, but I’ll be nowhere near 50k words.

    • Hahaha stopping is not an option. And before you get all excited for my 60k word count, know that I started at 30k, so I’m not actually doing as well as you might think, lol. Thanks for the advice! No stopping it is.

  5. I agree with splitting the book up, but I wouldn’t leave a cliffhanger ending between the two. IMO. Write the story that’s been swirling around in your head. Finish the book.

    • I agree with you. I’m the kind of writer who doesn’t really fully understand the story until I’ve written it out completely. I can plan all I want, but the finished story on the page rarely ends up the way I imagined it. Thanks for the advice!

  6. I vote C. After that first draft, you can see if there is a natural break point. If so, lucky day, you have two novels ready to go. If not? Then start cutting the unnecessary stuff.

    • Yup, that seems about right. Part of my problem is just the sheer scope of the story. It takes place over a long period of time, there are dozens and dozens of important characters … bleh. I mean, yay, because I’m really enjoying writing it, but keeping track of all of them and making sure they all get their subplots and character arcs is exhausting, lol. I have a feeling more than a few of them are getting cut before this is all over.

      • That’s always sad. I had to kill a couple characters off myself. I had another thought for your option D. Write the thing. Then take the lesser important subplots, find an artist, and turn those subplots into a companion graphic novel. Sure it is likely expensive and more trouble than it is worth, but how cool would it be to have a graphic novel in your collection next to the stories published in German.

  7. A or C. Allie’s idea of finding a natural break point is a good one. Option B might just kill the whole thing, so banish it!

    • Yeah, I’m tempted to agree with you. Don’t look back until it’s done. It’s so hard to do that, though. At least I’m only like 70% perfectionist — still got 30% wiggle room.

  8. I would go with option A too! When I finished writing my book it stood at about 145k too, but I was able to cut out more than 30k of unnecessary content, something which I initially didn’t believe was possible. It was littered with unnecessary scenes and descriptions and things that didn’t influence the story in any way, and it feels so much lighter now that I got rid of them. 🙂

    • People really seem to like option A, lol. And I think you’re right. I mean, worst case scenario, the book ends up crazy long and I split it into two. Best case scenario, I’m able to cut it down to a reasonable length. I have to keep reminding myself that Chasing Nonconformity started off at 120k words, and I got it down to 90k with really not that much effort. So the future is bright!

  9. Go with A – plenty of time to re-cut what you’ve written.

    • For sure. I just shudder at the thought of all the chopping and pruning I’ll have to do, lol. I envy those writers who can produce a first draft that barely needs more than a proofread before it’s good to go. That’ll never be me.

  10. I had a similar problem with my first NaNo a few years back. hit 50k and the story was only half way through. Second NaNo I wrote another 35k (after calling it book 2) and it still wasn’t finished. I’d try half heartedly with option A first then C if you can’t get it down much.

    • Yeah, that seems like a good way to go. What I’m currently toying around with now (prepare yourself) is to just write the entire story in one go. As in, it was going to be a trilogy, but the line between books wasn’t all that defined anyway, so I might just write the whole thing (good grief) and then figure out where to split it from there.

  11. My eight year old is reading Harry Potter & can’t put it down. If the story is awesome at 150,000+ words, then its awesome. Go forth and prosper with words.

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