November 50k Challenge: Week 4

November 50k Challenge: Week 4We’re crossing the finish line in the November 50k Challenge: Week 4. Day 28. It’s ‘done.’

I started with the target word count 55,577. That’s the 50k for the challenge plus my 5,577 of outline and snatches of dialog. I finished at 55,900. I have a complete novella, a story with a beginning, middle and end.


The challenge, as per NanoWriMo’s push for a daily writing habit, is 50,000 words in a month, averaging 1667 words a day. Routinely, I try to write something five or six days a week. It’s a good discipline and a manageable work rate. Real Life frequently gets in the way.

How did I do with the challenge this month? Best day, 4,664 words. Despite it being a Monday and a day off, I don’t know exactly how I managed that. Worst day, the last day, only 127 words of tidying up. Second worst was the start of week three, only 259 words all day. Real Life got in the way.

Average over the month? 1797 words a day. That only matters when you’re looking at the running total, pacing things to the finish line. Some days it flies, other days it drags.


Yes, it’s a dirty-ish draft of a genre story. It’s in the fantasy world of my main series, so I didn’t spend a lot of prep-time on the world building. The core is fantasy adventure, part ‘quest,’ part pursuit, with enough threads of mystery and suspense to keep it interesting.

It’s almost impossible to do anything original in genre fiction. All you can do is give it your best spin and try to tell the best story you can. I know I’m writing a Samurai-Western-Espionage-Adventure. Against the clock. No pressure.

The story type (a topic for another post), however, is World View. For all the genre tropes and action scenes, it’s all about the main character’s transformation. And family. I love a good found-family story.

Mind Your Head

Take away the scaffolding and what have I got? The prose is terrible. There’s more ‘tell’ than ‘show.’ I still can’t write emotion. The ending slides dangerously toward cliché. But, I have a complex protagonist and a tight structure. It includes Promises, Progress and Payoffs. There’s conflict on every page and plenty of consequences to the characters’ actions.

To be specific, I’ve nailed the structure to Derek Murphy’s 24-chapter outline. My three-act structure hits the plot points and turning points consistently 6% later than the ‘ideal’ but I don’t think anyone’s going to notice. Close enough.

Character Craft

Like all my main characters, I worry she’ll sound too whiny and self-centred. But the character arc is solid all the way to the finale. She starts aloof and alone and finishes… well, you’ll have to read it.

I’ve layered in the back story for all of the main characters, including the side-kicks and the antagonists.

Seemed Like a Good Idea…

This story idea was originally going to be Book Six or so down the line. I’ve made it a standalone story in a shared setting. At fifty thousand words, it’s a novella. Do I have enough to expand to a full length novel? What happens next? I’ll put it aside and get on with my series. Sometime next year, I’ll come back to it for revision.

Would I do this again? I proved I can do it. Once might be enough. I’ll have to be very excited about a story to dedicate a month to get it down start to finish. Ask me next year.

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