All around the world, writers are taking part in National Novel Writing Month and battling to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. NaNoWriMo as it’s known is an annual tradition that’s been running since 1999. It started with 21 people but now hundreds of thousands of people take part. Writing a novel in 30 days isn’t an easy task – the success rate in 2015 was roughly 10%.
I’ve yet to seriously attempt NaNoWriMo. The timing never quite works out. This year was close – I was supposed to have finished the novella I’m working on and could have started my next book, but the novella turned into a novel. I guess in theory I could count the words on that novella as a NaNoWriMo project but that seems like cheating. Next year I’m definitely going to try to get organized, though.
For a lot of people who are taking part, now is about the time where things get tricky. Thanksgiving is coming up, the original idea is starting to seem stale, and the words get harder and harder to come by. Which is where NaNoWriMoLax comes in. Here are 50 plot twists to get you going again. If these don’t work, there are more suggestions here, here and here.
- An airplane crashes nearby. There’s one survivor.
- A time traveller arrives.
- The main character’s childhood sweatheart returns but they’re really an alien.
- A sinkhole opens up beneath the main character.
- A woman riding a dragon turns up and burns everything to the ground.
- An interdimensional monster climbs through a portal and attacks.
- The hero realizes the clue they found is a red herring.
- The protagonist is shot.
- One of the characters tells a really long joke.
- Someone throws a grenade into the room.
- The floor collapses.
- A tiny little octopus attacks.
- The protagonist realizes they’re allergic to coffee/pizza/their lover.
- Your hero’s arm turns into a tree branch.
- Elivs lands in his spaceship.
- The characters realize they are only characters in a bad novel.
- Zombie ants!
- The antagonist appears and serenades the hero with the song his mother used to sing him.
- The main character is really a cyborg.
- Your hero gives up.
- Flashback to the time your hero broke into the Natural History Museum in London and stole a dinosaur egg.
- Nathan Fillion appears (and takes off his pants).
- Car chase!
- The dream the antagonist had at the beginning of the book isn’t really a dream.
- A thief steals something really important from the protagonist.
- The antagonist gives the hero an ultimatum.
- The hero realizes they’re in love with their best friend/the bad guy/Winona Ryder.
- A roving band of pirates/post apocalyptic thugs/mobsters/werewolves attack the hero.
- Your protagonist loses their voice.
- A kitten is delivered as a peace offering from the antagonist.
- An old song/movie comes on the radio/tv and triggers an epiphany.
- The murder victim walks into the room.
- The protagonist gets into an argument with someone on the internet.
- Robots from hell ambush the main characters.
- The villain gives the hero a puzzle they must solve or something really bad will happen.
- The hero’s best friend betrays him.
- There’s a misunderstanding.
- Wonder Woman appears.
- The hero is really a Russian/alien/demon spy.
- The world folds in on itself.
- One character accidentally insults another one.
- The main character is really a zombie.
- A mysterious parcel is delivered.
- A ghost appears to the protagonist and explains that they need to go on a quest to retrieve a special dagger/book/kitten in order to defeat the evil demon/racoon/dog.
- The protagonist can suddenly speak French/Chinese/Klingon.
- A shadowy figure from your hero’s past arrives.
- Posionous gas starts seeping into the room.
And if none of those work then here’s a suggestion I made back in 2015:
The hero is dragged back in time to the beginning of the novel but his memories are intact so now he has the opportunity to go through all the same events again but behave slightly differently, even if it’s only saying something slightly different so now you can basically copy out everything you’ve written up until this point and just change a few words here and there – that should be enough to get you well on your way to 50,000 words (just don’t cut and paste it, write it out or it’s cheating and no one likes a cheat)
Or you can go to Written Kitten and reward yourself with a new kitten picture every 100 words you write. Or you can just come up with something yourself (don’t worry, I won’t be offended, just don’t give up).
Whatever you choose, good luck and let me know if you do manage to hit 50,000 words by November 30th.
[NaNoWriMoLax 2017 by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 19th November 2017]