5 NaNoWriMo Prompts for Mid-Challenge Motivation

Here are 5 NaNoWriMo prompts to help motivate you to keep working on your writing challenge past the November 15 midpoint.
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Here are 5 NaNoWriMo prompts to help motivate you to keep working on your writing challenge past the November 15 midpoint. 

NaNoWriMo Prompts

If you are participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge, you are exactly halfway through the month. For some of you that may mean you’re halfway through the challenge with half of your manuscript written. For others of you that may mean it’s time to kick things into high gear to get caught up! And yet for those over-achievers among us, you may have gotten off to a strong start and are already past the halfway mark.

Regardless of where you’re at, the next couple of weeks approaching the end of the challenge are bound to be full of other things vying for your attention—getting ready for the holidays and family gatherings, traveling and perhaps taking time off of work or working extra hours as black Friday rolls around. All of these things (and more depending on your circumstances) may make completing the challenge, well, more of a challenge.

Find more NaNoWriMo motivation with this article from NaNoWriMo executive director, Grant Faulkner.

To help keep your forward momentum, here are a few prompts that might help you think about your story in a new way.

  1. No matter what point you’re at in your novel, chances are, your character is frustrated by something—at least, they should be. There should be conflict—things standing in the way of your character getting what they want. Write a scene in which your character is standing on the edge of a cliff, or a building, or the universe and they scream into the distance all of their frustrations. What do they yell about? What language do they use? What sorts of gestures do they make? Hopefully you’ll discover something critical about your characters desires and motivations and you can carry some of that emotion into the next parts of the story.
  2. Choose one of your main characters and take them to a new place. Maybe a change of scenery will do them good! Write a scene in which your character travels somewhere new to them—perhaps it’s a work trip, or a vacation, or a class field trip, or clue in the mystery guiding them—whatever the reason, this is an opportunity to see the place through the eyes of a specific character as it pertains to their goals in the novel.
  3. Write a scene in which you trap your protagonist somewhere. Perhaps it’s on a boat in close quarters with someone they don’t like. Or maybe it’s in an elevator when they need to be elsewhere. Maybe it’s in an office during a lockdown. How does this entrapment factor into the larger story. Is it a minor inconvenience, a setback? Or is it an opening to meeting a new character who could help them? Perhaps it’s the final challenge they have to overcome (or not) to end the story.
  4. Now, take the scene you wrote for number three and rewrite it with the antagonist as the character who is trapped. Consider how this changes the dynamics of the story.
  5. Write a scene in which your character creates a meal. Are they cooking for themselves or for others as well? Is this a meal they make often, or something for which they need to follow a recipe closely? Does “cooking” for your character mean slapping a sandwich together and hoping for the best, or does your character cook regularly with some success? As you write the scene, be sure to consider the aromas, the space and tools used in preparing the food, your character’s attitude about the meal, etc.

These scenes may or may not make it into the manuscript you’re working on, but at the very least they should provide you with some insight about your characters and conflicts. Maybe it’ll help you discover a side of them you haven’t seen before—an attitude or opinion or gesture you can use in another part of your story. However you use these prompts for your NaNoWriMo novel, keep writing—we have faith in you and your writing. You can WIN this challenge!

For advice about writing your novel in 30 days, check out this WD special digital issue:

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