How To Almost Completely fail at NaNoWriMo

Like many people, I am studiously outlining my novel for the start of NaNoWriMo in three days, however, I suspect that most people haven’t just had one of those stomach sinking moments that I’ve just had.

Do you know the one I mean? The one where you suddenly realise you’ve forgotten something crucial, like the bloke who forgot to add sugar to his cake mix on The Great British Bake Off? It’s not something you can ignore, it’s not something you can add afterwards. You’ve just ballsed it up. You know the type of fatal error I’m talking about? I’ve had one of those today.

I have plotted my novel (I’m a planner, not a pantster), I have done my character sketches, I know what happens at all my plot points and I know how it all resolves in the end. I know what my character arcs look like, I’m certain of my timeline, the weather and the clothes they will all be wearing. I was feeling quite smug about it all and ready for 1st November. As an exercise today, I thought I would write a summary of the story, a blurb for the back cover if you like to zero in on the purpose of the characters and the story.

I had nothing. Absolutely nothing. I couldn’t write even a single sentence answering the question ‘What is your story about?’. This was terrible, the more I thought about it, the more I was certain that my story was going to be pointless, sure, it’s definitely a story where characters interact and things happen but why? What are they doing it for? Why do we care?

I read back through my plan and my notes, the concept and the premise were weak, I can see that now. I need to add some conceptual layers to the whole thing or it’s going to be D.U.L.L.

I’m glad that I noticed this now, it’s made me rethink the secondary characters and I’ve decided that some of them will now have a more active role in the story and create maze-blocking conflict for the protagonist. The love interest will also turn out to be a complete arse.

Now, if somebody asks me ‘what is your book about?’, I can say:

It’s a story about a woman who, trapped in the monotony of caring for an elderly relative, running a business and servicing a stale relationship, fails to notice the systematic theft of everything that holds their lives together.

Her vision is further blinkered by the arrival of Nick Fenn whose presence awakens her dormant plans and questions the life she’s settled for. 

As the scale of the theft becomes clear, the finger of suspicion falls on those she trusts the most, including Nick Fenn. Could he really do this to her? Will Abi’s loyalty silence her or will her sense of justice prevail? 

It’s not perfect, I’m not even certain whether that is actually the question that I will be answering but what do you think? Does it have a strong enough purpose? Would you read it? After all, what’s the point of pouring 50,000 words out in a month if they are all for nothing?


About Nicola Auckland

Busy wife to one & mum to two. I've caught the creative writing bug, now need to practice, get awesome and write something worth reading. Simples.
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20 Responses to How To Almost Completely fail at NaNoWriMo

  1. That was a captivating insight into the process of writing a novel.


  2. Wow, your blurb is very good, it makes me want to read the book. If I read this blurb at a bookstore, I would pick up a copy for sure!
    But this blog post just made me realize that I do not have a blurb and I am not even half way through the planning process! uh oh
    And there’s only this weekend left…ugghh….now I think I am feeling sick….!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, there are so many varying interests out there that knowing how to pitch your blurb to the correct genre is a skill that I don’t quite have yet. I’m already rewriting it in my head as I add layers to my outline the the finished article will be wildly different I’m sure.

      Are you a planner, a pantster or a bit of both? Whichever it is, I’m sure you’ll be fine when Day Zero comes around! Good luck to you. I’m AwkwardAuckland on the NaNo site if you want to add me as a buddy. I think I tried looking for you before but couldn’t find you 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am a planner, I like to have everything ready before getting started. I have completed writing an outline for most of the chapters and have a spreadsheet for my characters, their details, locations, time zone etc. But I never thought of the blurb until now, and I guess now I am nervous coz nothing seems to be coming to me.
        The title I have entered in my NaNo is temporary, I will have to come up with a better one!
        I have added you to my buddy list so if you look under the ‘Buddy of’ section you will see me as RashmiM909. 🙂


  3. Kristi says:

    I was really intrigued by the first sentence. The rest of it sort of lost me a bit (not because it was confusing, necessarily, it just wasn’t as interesting to me).

    It took me until halfway through a heavy revision period to be able to sum up my first finished novel in anything as short as a few sentences. I’m still not sure it makes a lot of sense to anyone who doesn’t know my story world. The whole thing is just so convoluted.

    Good job working through the issue in one day, even if you’re not sure the story will go the direction you’ve planned (when is that ever a guarantee anyway, right?). And good luck on NaNo!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m really excited at the thought of having something to revise and mould. It’ll be my first go at anything longer than a short story so I want to get stuck in.

      Thank you for your feedback, it’s so helpful to have insight from other writers, it’s why this blog exists and I learn so much from it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Charlotte Latvala says:

    Good for you! A quick thought: Specifics would make your blurb come alive. That is: What’s the business? (Does she run a funeral home or a bar?) Where does the story take place? (Australian outback or London?) What’s the stale relationship (assume marriage but why not say so?) Who/what is Nick (a drifter, an insurance adjuster, an alcoholic singer?) See what I mean? You can add details without adding a ton of words.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nik says:

    I’d be interested to see if your summary now ends up being a fair reflection of the story once you hit the magic 50,000 mark. I’ve got a lot of admiration for anyone attempting this so I will be rooting for you! To answer your question the blurb doesn’t instantly grab me but that’s more a reflection of the type of novel I tend to read rather than a measure of blurb-quality – I think it will certainly have an audience and once you get them on page one it’s all about the writing 🙂 Good luck!


    • It doesn’t really grab me either, but that’s because I spent about thirty seconds writing it and not a lot longer thinking about it!

      I’m willing to bet that, despite the outline, the finished product is miles away from the blurb above. I will write another one when I’ve finished to compare. I’ll try not to bore everyone with NaNo updates next month but I’ll drop a few exhausted lines down to let you all know how I’m doing.


  6. You brave soul! I am too chicken to NaNo. Your blurb sounds good and besides, the “finished” product isn’t really finished till you say so! It just has to be 50k words with plot resolution. You will go back and polish it up later! Good luck! Will be cheering from the sidelines!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. kirstwrites says:

    It sounds interesting. A bit of a whodunnit and a character who sounds a bit world weary who I can definitely relate to! Whether it’s best seller material…. Maybe not, but the point of writing it is that you’ll be a more experienced writer by the end of it. Charlotte Bronte couldn’t have written Jane Eyre if she hadn’t written the Professor first!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’ll never go anywhere near a bookshelf, I can promise you that! You’re right, I’ll need a lot of practice before I write anything good enough for anyone to read, this is the whole point of doing NaNo – just to get the story out and see what happens.


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