It’s National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org) where writers all over the world are testing their abilities – and the patience of their families, friends and lovers – by attempting to write a 50,000 word novel through the month of November.

Over the next month I will be posting a series of tips that I’ve found useful for logging those 1667 words per day while finding ways to fit a story in there somewhere.

Tip #1 – Mircoplan

It’s easier to get to your destination when you have a rough plan as to where you are going. Obvious.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you need to create a detailed beat by beat plot outline for you entire work, but experience has taught me that taking a moment to jot down a post-it note’s worth of specific ideas before I write not only helps keep me focused on the story, but also improves speed at which I write.

It’s simple.  Before your writing session to think about what you are trying to show the reader in this chapter, scene or beat.

Literally ask yourself, “What am I trying to show the reader?”

You might be trying to give the reader details about a character, place or situation.

You might want to show them:

The bleakness of your protagonist’s home town is.

How much they love their family or hate their job.

The danger of being a technician in a laboratory filled with radioactive spiders.

You might want to show them the horrors of the American Civil War or the technological advances achieved through our first alien contact in the year 2050AD.

Whatever you decide to show your reader, be specific. Be as specific as possible as to how things appear through the senses of the characters (or narrator). These details will give you a wellspring of material.

Before your next writing session take a couple of minutes to jot down the following.

  1. What am I trying to show?
  2. What characters do I need to show that?
  3. Where do they need to be?
  4. What will they be doing?

When you feel yourself begin to dry up or slow down think next about what you have to show.

I think you’ll find that a couple of minutes of planning beforehand will not only help you keep your writing (and your story) focused but actually improve your writing speed.

If you’re interested learning how to increase your writing focus and speed I would recommend the following books:

2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love
by Rachel Aaron

5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter
by Chris Fox