Musing: NaNoWriMo 2014 Winner Review (Part 2)


I mentioned I’d be making a second post about NaNoWriMo and here it is.  I wanted to take a moment to address the importance of the after game assessment.  As I mentioned in a previous post, in moments of great accomplishment, its’ good see exactly what you have accomplished.

I ‘won’ NaNoWriMo, but I also ‘lost’ in several ways too.

When I went into this I set forth a goal of 55,000 words over twenty-five chapters with a rather specific outline.  I ended up with a novel barely over 50,000 words over twenty-seven chapters.  Part of the reason I set the goal of 55k was because I wanted a comfortable cushion to meet the minimum requirements for NaNoWriMo.

This, simply put, means I severely under wrote according to my game plan.  When you consider the fact I had to retool my last chapters, if I would have stuck to the plan my novel would have been too short.  I estimate the novel would have been 47,000 words long.

This is a pretty dangerous position to be in, considering the story ends at about 49,700 words.  I needed an epilogue to get past the minimum word requirement.

I could have resolved that in several different ways.


  1. Identify a missing element to the story, flesh it out and turn it into a full chapter.
  2. Add details to existing chapters.
  3. Take the story past the ending point.


not sure if

Not sure if I’m making crap up or speaking words of wisdom.

Assuming I hadn’t made revisions to the story, option one is the best course of action.  In the future when I make an outline for a story under a deadline, I would put optional chapters in the outline and mark existing chapters as optional.  This would leave me well prepared for underwriting or overwriting.

Option Two is a TERRIBLE idea under a deadline.   It puts you in a time crunch of revisions, something you would only do after NaNo is over.   When you look for opportunities to add material, you’ll likely find stuff that needs to go.  You can effectively lose words this way.

When I tackle revisions of Matter of Time option two will be a good method.  I mentioned the lack of local flair to the chapters as well as some skimpy character introductions.  I should be able to tack on two thousand or so words with that.

Option three, to be blunt, is a cop out.  I was so close to 50,000 that I just added an epilogue to push myself over, but I’m not too proud to admit it’s a lame resolution.

I hope this helps clarify how I could chalk this ‘win’ as a ‘loss’.

I’m not downplaying the accomplishment, but instead identifying how I could have done it better.   Doing NaNo publically really helped me get a good hold on my writing groove.  More importantly, I hope it inspired people to do it themselves next year.

Thanks for reading along.


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