The Villains Guide to Winning #NaNoWriMo Part 1

Those who say National Novel Writing Month is about completing a fifty-thousand word novel in thirty days are filthy liars. It’s nothing of the sort. In truth, it’s about only one thing:


Bragging rights


Yes, bragging rights, in the form of a NaNoWriMo Winner banner and BLOG badge you display as a sign of your hard work. But that’s not all they’re good for. Additionally, they’re great for sticking a thumb in the eye of all those who failed, who, by all rights, should get this badge:




Now, if some of you weak-hearted fools are thinking openly mocking your fellow artists with your success is pure villainy, um… duh! Of course it is.

Delicious, delicious villainy.

And you know you want a taste.

The only roadblock to your entering ‘I’m better than you, Faily McFailstein-ville,’ is honestly winning NaNoWriMo is, well, hard. Like, really hard. Like, I’d-rather-splash-crackling-bacon-grease-on-my-privates, hard. Who wants that? Not you is right.

The good news is there’s plenty of ways to cheat win NaNoWriMo that, while a smidge less-honest, are a whole-friggin’-lot easier. It is in that spirit this little guide is offered.

Time to embrace the dark side.

Here are five easy-to-follow rules to winning NaNoWriMo without driving yourself mad. Be sure to use this information for evil, not good. Remember, good is dumb.

Rule 1 – Forget every detail that you’ve ever heard, read, or learned in your entire life, in school, from friends, from your parents, from your coworkers, etc., about good grammar, sentence structure, outlining, plot construction, or anything else even remotely related to the fine art and time-honored tradition of writing.

See what I did there?

Rule 1 is one of those things that are the opposite of what it’s telling you to do. Google it yourself, I’m too villainous right now to look it up. Anyway, the idea is to over-write the hell out of everything, even to the point of absurdity. Why? Because you’re not trying to write a good book during NaNoWriMo, you’re trying to get to fifty-thousand words, silly. Rule 1 could have been, “Forget everything you know about good writing”, but that’s only seven measly words! As I have it, it’s forty-eight (as counted by the devil’s hammer, MS Word)–nearly seven-times the count. That’s NaNoWriMo gold right there.

Rule 2 – Open your mouth and receive the sweet, sweet kiss of adverbs.

OK, I may have gone too far with that one, even for my presently villainous self. Sorry.

Adverbs are bad. They’re crutches, employed rather than making the effort to pick a strong verb. Common examples include: ‘spoke quietly’ (instead of ‘whispered’), ‘ran quickly’ (instead of ‘sprinted’), and ‘looked sharply’ (instead of ‘glared’). Adverbs also find misuse through redundancy, such as, ‘completely finished’, ‘thoroughly exhausted’, and ‘stubbornly obstinate’ (one of my favorites). But, again, we’re not going for good writing during NaNoWriMo, we’re going for word count, so use ‘diminutively short’ until the cows come home.

Rule 3 – Contractions are the tool of the simpering righteous.

People use contractions when speaking, so they’re an easy way to make your dialogue sound genuine. But ‘isn’t’, ‘don’t’, and ‘aren’t’ each only count as one word. Forget about making your characters sound like, you know, people, and go full-robot voice. “I do not understand why you will not stop punching me.” “I am not going to stop punching you until you promise you will not ever bother my sister, Darlene, again.” “I would not have come over if Darlene had not called me.” See all those beautiful extra words? So will MS Word.

Rule 4 – Use that like it’s really very important.

In written and spoken language, we often use unnecessary words. ‘That’ is one of the more abused. ‘I found out that he was the one eating all my crickets,’ for instance. It’s filler, and you just don’t need ‘that’ in there (most of the time) unless you’re directly referring to something, someone, or someplace, as in: ‘That time machine runs on angel tears.’ ‘Very’ and ‘really’ are also abused, though for emphasis, and often unneeded. ‘He ran very fast,’ or ‘I really want this plan to work,’ would be fine (better, actually) without those words. Fine, that is, except during NaNoWriMo when we’re, say it with me, “padding our word counts!” Well done. Er, I mean, Villainously done!

Rule 5 – If you’re stuck, abandon ship and move-on.

If you’re not familiar, the way you win NaNoWriMo is to COPY -> PASTE what you’ve written into the web site so it can calculate your word count. It does not validate your novel as complete, coherent, or contiguous. So, if you’re stuck in a scene, don’t waste your time worrying about paltry concepts like continuity, character development, and plot. Instead, abandon that scene and move on to the next. Hell, don’t even worry about it making sense! Remember, all first drafts suck, so it’s OK to compile the worst piece of dreck this side of {insert something you hate}. The site doesn’t give a fig, and neither should you.


Well, that’s it, junior-NaNoWriMo-villains-in-training. With these rules, you’re on your way to winning National Novel Writing Month in style while every other sucker is bleeding from their ears because “This chapter doesn’t sound right.” I wish you wellvillainously, of course.


Thanks for reading.


(DISCLAIMER – If you’re new to my particular brand of tongue-in-cheek-ery, you may think this guide is serious. Good. Keep thinking that. Bwa-HA-HA!)

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