Nanowrimo wordcount boosters – Generate more words for your Nano novel!

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Get the words flowing with these Nanowrimo wordcount boosters
Get the words flowing with these Nanowrimo wordcount boosters

This quick post is to give some ideas for wordcount boosters for Nanowrimo-which will, I hope, make it into in your finished novel as worldbuilding  or character reveal scenes. I have used each of these and found they are generally good for an extra 1000 words or so. These seven ideas should give you at least an extra 7000 words for your Nano-novel and are especially useful for those writing in the fantasy genre, although they can be applied to any story. Good luck!

  1. Engage in a drinking game. Describe the game, its rules, the forfeits and how each character participates.  This is good for sneaking in some clumsy how-the-world-works information, in the fantasy genre.
  2. Discover a children’s book. If it contains a fairy tale or the creation myth for your fantasy world, so much the better. Have your characters comment on it scornfully or nostalgically, and at length. If you’re really desperate for words, have them read out a handy myth which feeds into your plot.
  3. Check a calendar. This allows you to confirm the name and sequence of days of the week, months and seasons. It can also show any significant festival dates where, later on, your hero finds himself in peril, or able to demonstrate his secret powers in front of a captive audience.
  4. Visit a pub or tavern. Give it a name, a history, an distinctive appearance, and a location. Street corner or market square? Alley, halfway up some steps, or in the middle of a habitable bridge? What do your characters eat or drink and what pub characters do they meet? You can stretch this one out for ages.
  5. Visit a school. There is rich word count boosting to be found in exploring the education system, showing how girls and boys (or other creatures) are prepared for the wider world. When you include playground games, punishments, exams or mealtimes, this could be a great way to expose more information about your world and/or your characters’ backstory.
  6. Have dinner. Charles Dickens spent a lot of time describing the food prepared and eaten by his characters – it gives great texture for his imaginary world, and takes up a lot of words. What regular meals do people of your world eat throughout the day? Are certain things forbidden, or forbidden to certain groups – women, children, certain faiths or races-? Is eating communal, or something to be done in shame, alone? Mealtime scenes also make great foreplay scenes, with all the dinner juices running down chins and being licked from sticky fingers. Just saying.
  7. Go dancing. What are the popular dances in your world and what kind of music are they set to? Is dancing a courtship ritual, a social affirmation, or a way to confirm some other life stage? Who is allowed to dance, who is forbidden? Are there certain moves which are banned from polite society, like Elvis and his hip gyrations? Why is that? Has your main character experienced great dancing and terrible dancing? Even at surface level, a dancing scene is a great opportunity to describe in word-count-boosting detail what everyone is wearing and who dances with who and why.

If you have some favourite ways to boost wordcount during Nanowrimo, please share them in the comments!



My main Nanowrimo page of resources

Charles Dickens- Great Expectations has some fantastic eating scenes. So does Nicholas Nickelby.

Visit a pub with Seventh Sanctum’s Tavern Name Generator

For sexy words over your mealtimes, try Stacia Kane’s book



Book Blog – The Petticoat Men by Barbara Ewing

Reading Time: 2 minutes
The Petticoat Men by Barbara Ewing
The Petticoat Men by Barbara Ewing

The Petticoat Men tells the story of the owners of a boarding house where two men rented rooms – two men later arrested for the charge of dressing in women’s clothing. It’s set in 1870 and is based on the true story of the Lord Arthur Clinton scandal, involving the Prime Minister, Gladstone, and members of the royal family.

But the novel’s focus is not on the so-called Petticoat Men, or on the powerful people who knew them – but on the powerless, those affected by the scandal through no fault of their own. Mattie, a girl with a deformed foot, runs the boarding house with her mother – she is labelled a ‘crippled whore’ and their house is graffiti-ed as the ‘home of sodomites’. Mattie’s brother Billy finds his clerk’s  job at Parliament under threat because of his association with the case. Without wealth, without power, how can these people undo the harm that’s been done?

The tone of the book is interesting – at no point do any who know the Petticoat Men judge them unkindly. Only strangers, and the laws banning Indecent Acts, treat them harshly.

The book is written from many viewpoints – first-person for Mattie and her mother, close-third-person for Billy, and a weird semi-close-third person mixed with omniscient-narrator for Mr Gladstone and the rest of the large cast. I found this rather off-putting, and would rather it be third person throughout. The dialogue and the quotes from newspapers and letters are exciting enough to keep the reader’s interest. I didn’t find the two first-person voices distinct enough to warrant their use.

There were a few parts I skimmed over, mostly where rich people bemoaned their fate. The theme of influence, in its various forms, runs throughout the narrative.

The strangest omission to me is that we never see the viewpoint of Ernest Boulton and Frederick Park, the Petticoat Men themselves, or know what they thought of any of it – or even, really, what they did, beyond the charges levelled at them. I’d be curious to know more about these men, who lived their lives so differently to the accepted social norm, who appear to be gay  – it is not clear for a long time in the narrative – and who also simply enjoy wearing women’s clothes.

I have whizzed through this book in a couple of days because of its high-stakes story about an aspect of Victorian life new to me, but I feel it could have done more with such an unusual topic and colourful cast of characters. There was a more satisfying ending than I expected, so that was good.

I can see that Ewing has written a large number of other fiction books, with titles hinting at some of my key interests – archaeology, hypnotism, circuses, New York –  so I will be looking out for more by her in the future.

There are several photos of the people involved in this story and I must say I find these fascinating. The narrative says that Ernest looked, even when dressed as a man, like a woman in man’s clothes, and I can see from the pictures how this could be the case.

The Petticoat Men, Barbara Ewing

Lord Arthur Clinton and photo of him with Frederick Park and Ernest Boulton

Photo of the real Petticoat Men

Neil McKenna also wrote a history of the Petticoat Men, and this photo of Ernest Boulton is from his website.


Nanowrimo Blog Day 2 – stop marketing and just write

Reading Time: 2 minutes
National Novel Writing Month AKA Nanowrimo
It’s good to know I’ll be writing 1660 words a day, every day, for a month. Nanowrimo is awesome.

Today I was reminded of something important, especially during Nanowrimo: don’t read a ton of stuff about marketing a book you have not finished yet.

I don’t mean you should plough ahead and actually share your book with the world without learning the best way to promote that book. I mean, don’t think about selling a thing  – a fictional thing* – while you’re still creating it. Why? Because it will stop you in your tracks. I speak from personal experience here.

Instead of thinking, right, next scene, how to describe my hero’s reaction to this horrifying discovery, you’ll be consumed with ideas about the cover design, how to get people to sign up to your blog’s mailing list, and what you’ll say to the TV anchor when you’re interviewed about your runaway bestseller.

All of this is a massive waste of time during Nano – or any committed creative project. And trying to imagine the best way to sell a thing, when you don’t yet know what the thing will be, seems impossible as well as foolish.

Plenty of advice will tell you to begin marketing your book while still writing it. Well, maybe they’re right – if your first draft is finished/if it’s a non fiction book / if you have planned your writing to such an extent that really all you’re doing it typing.  However, if your creative heart is engaged, leave marketing til later. You are creating something new and it is still forming and growing. Give it space. Sell it when you know what you’ve got.

Oh, and whatever you do, do not launch Canva and start trying out book covers. This is a guaranteed way to lose an afternoon. Leave those fancy fonts alone until December. The freebie graphic design tool will still be there, and you’ll have a much better idea of what to put on the front of your book.**

So today’s Thing to remember: Sell when your first draft is finished, not before.

*Much of the Sell It Before You Write It advice seems to be aimed at nonfiction authors, which is fair enough. They are working with known quantities.

**I’m going to contradict myself regarding when to think about your book cover, very soon. Maybe tomorrow.


Nanowrimo blog Day 1 – Use November how you want

Reading Time: 2 minutes
National Novel Writing Month AKA Nanowrimo
It’s good to know I’ll be writing 1660 words a day, every day, for a month. Nanowrimo is awesome.

Well, National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) started today and even though I am not officially joining in, I’m still going to increase my daily word count to 1600 or so. I usually aim for 1100, and have been consistent on that for about a month, so this is not a huge leap.

I’m working on my current WIP, breaking the supposed rules, but hey, it’s my Nanowrimo, I can do what I like.

Day one, then, and I’m at a tricky part of the book where a lot of things need to be worked out or I’ll end up writing myself into a corner (like last time).

I also have the aim to write the big climax this week, the giant stuff, the stuff which the cover has been promising the reader all along. Too often I think that I am very good at build up, and then go, Yeah, so they fought the Scary Enemy, done, now let’s carry on with witty banter and a hint of book two.

Not good enough. If you don’t deliver on the thing you’ve been building up to (true love, demon on demon battle scene, the storm which wipes clean the polluted earth…) then why would the reader bother?

So this week I’m all about the endings and climaxes of this book. Yes, endings, in Week One, because there are various things happening and they all need some kind of resolution, even if it involves setting up a new problem for next time.

It’s half past nine in the morning of 1st November and I’ve quickly dashed off 979 incoherent words. Not bad.* Next is a creepy underground scene. Go!

(I’m not going to blog every day. Or I might. But if I do it will be brief. And end with a Lesson Learned or Thing to Try. Like this:

  1. Use Nanowrimo however you want. It’s a productivity tool. I’ve ‘won’ it lots of times and it helped me, especially with confidence, but now I need more than that, I need to become a Finisher. So I’m using it to complete my WIP. You should use this month however you want. Nobody’s judging.

*And if I like I can even include these words as part of my daily tally. Taps nose and winks. Why not?

National Novel Writing Month