Winter Writing Project

NaNoWriMo is, thankfully, over, but that doesn’t mean you should stop writing. This month is National Novel Finishing Month (NaNoFiMo) after all, with a goal of 30k words. I’m not participating; I’ve written the end of my last novel already (albeit 20k words early, but that’s what NaNoEdMo is for!). I’m using December to plan for something different.

You all remember Evalise Beaumont from fiction breaks one and two, right? I left off at a bit of a cliffhanger, so I’m returning to her story and finishing it by NaNoEdMo in March. In other words: I’m going to try to write a first draft of a novel in two months, and I encourage you all to write with me.

Before you run off screaming “Dear gods, it’s NaNoWriMo Jr.!” let me explain a bit. The time span is two months, not one, and there is no word count goal. You don’t even have to write a novel.

Here’s the basic schedule for this project:

  • January 1-14: Act 1, ending with Plot Point One, or the Inciting Incident.
  • January 15-28: Act 2, ending in your Mini-Climax.
  • January 29-February 11: Act 3, ending in Plot Point Two.
  • February 12-25: Act 4, ending in the Final Confrontation and Resolution.

As you can see, this leaves a few days of break before NaNoEdMo. Finishing early is not discouraged. Plot progression is the goal, not word count, meaning your novel can in fact be a short story.

There are two rules:

  1. You must post at least one scene from the specified act during each time period. IE post a scene or two from Act 2 between Jan 15 and 28.
  2. You must critique others work when they post it.

If you fall behind, still post a scene you’ve written recently. You’ll get a few critiques, and you’ll also get a slew of much-needed encouragement.

If you get ahead, post a scene from the act that is appropriate for the time slot. So if it’s January 17 and you’re working on Act 3, go back to Act 2 and find a scene to post.

When you critique someone’s work, balance the positive and negative. The negative can be difficult as we are all afraid of being “mean.” Give yourself permission to be “mean” (you’re not really being mean) and give some constructive criticism.


  • Complete something, whether it’s a full-length novel, novella, or short story.
  • Improve in at least one area you decide, whether it’s plot development, characterization, world building or grammar.
  • Become more comfortable with sharing your writing.
  • Improve on giving and receiving critiques.
  • Come closer to finding a balance between quantity and quality in a first draft.

In short, I want this to be a much more relaxed version of NaNoWriMo. I want the same motivation and support, though on a smaller scale, without the rush to write. Set higher standards for quality than you did (or would) in NaNoWriMo.At the same time, don’t expect perfection. A first draft is still a first draft, regardless of how much time you spent on it.

Ask as many questions as you want about the project and I will answer them. This is nothing I’ve done before so any and all input is welcome. Also, please let me know if you want to participate. By January, I would like to have a list of everyone participating as a sticky on Resplendence to make sure everyone gets the support they need.


If you’re not sure, keep reading and I’ll convince you to join!

You: I don’t have a lot of time in Jan/Feb.

Me: According to Wikipedia, a short story is under 7,500 words. If you can write 1,000 words a week (takes most people 1-2 hours on average), you can write a short story in two months. Pick a plot that will be appropriate for the amount of time you have to write during the two months. Shorter plots for less time.

You: I’m still not done my last MS and I don’t want to start something new before I finish it.

Me: Agreed. Why not spend the two months finishing your last one, then? You don’t have to start a novel from scratch to post a scene from acts you’ve already written. You can still get support, advice, and motivation from others even if you’re continuing an older project.

You: I don’t want to post my writing for the entire Internet to see!

Me: This is one fear every writer must overcome. Your mind works one way and one way only. There are things about your story, your plot, your characters that might not make sense to someone who doesn’t think like you. Think of all the wonderful advice you miss out on by not letting other people read your work! The only one expecting you to be perfect is you.

You: I don’t want to fail.

Me: You only fail if you don’t try. Nobody here is going to mock you for not finishing a story in two months. The two-month time frame is a motivator. Sure, you can be sneaky and participate without saying so, but you’ll miss out on the critiques and advice. So be brave an announce your intentions! You’ll be surprised at how much that can motivate you.

Convinced yet?

About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on December 9, 2010, in Ishy Writes! and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. YES!!! I am in! Well, I will try whatever is in my powers to make sure I am. This sounds fun. And I love to get “mean” critiques. Seriously, which writer would not like to improve?
    But critiquing other’s work sounds almost impossible. I am sure everyone else taking part is going to be a LOT(bold and underlined) more experienced than me. But, I am still in!

    • Yay!

      Keep in mind most readers haven’t willingly written anything creative before in their lives. You don’t have to be a paid writer/editor to give a good critique. Besides, you have to edit your own work at some point anyways, right? Same idea when critiquing someone else.

  2. I’ll tentatively commit myself to this. It sounds like fun, even though I have exams looming on yonder horizon.

  3. All right. Count me in for a short story.

    By the way, Thaumaturgist, critiquing well is not about composing a perfect review. Another way to think of it, perhaps, is a chance to tell the author how you repsond to the work. Pointing out errors is only a small portion. Letting them know the emotional connections you’re building with the characters, the connections you’re noticing in the story, the way that the words are working on the page, etc. are equally important and useful as well. If it comes to mind, write it down. You can’t go wrong that way.

    • Love your explanation of a critique. The emotional aspect is often more important. Grammatical mistakes can be fixed, but if there is no emotional connection between the reader and the hero, the entire scene needs to be reworked, and perhaps the entire story.

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