You'd rather be flossing your teeth than making your word quota.
This isnot a good sign.
It means that your story is so boring that even you can't bear to be around it.
If you wake up to find that you've been drooling on your monitor, it's time to put on the brakes.
Yep, you heard me: I want you to start over.
Don't panic. I'm not talking about a complete re-write (hopefully). I'm just asking you to take the time to assess where you think your story went off track. It's better to do so now, only nine days into National Novel Writing Month, than on, say, Day 14 or 22 or 30, when rewrites will be even more extensive.
Besides the fact that my snores are louder than the tapping on my keyboard, here's how I know when it's time for a course correction:
Problem #1: I don't like my lead character.
Solution: Make him/her more lovable.
You can do this by adding a few scenes that show his/her softer side, demonstrates their insights. Or add a backstory scene. If you don't like your character, neither will your readers.
Problem #2: The plot is going nowhere.
Solution: Go back to your outline, and figure out what is missing.
The need for an outline allows you to build in the conflict where needed. Your story should be a page-turner: one that keeps your potential agent, and editor (and, eventually, readers) at the edge of their seats. Every chapter needs to keep us informed and engaged. Do the math: if a book is around 300 pages, and every chapter were, say, ten pages each, that means 30 chapters: each one building to a great climax.
If your response to this is “But I don't have an outline,” consider this a tongue lashing. NO WONDER YOU'RE STUCK! Now, go back and read my Tip #2…
Problem #3: I'm stuck on a plot technicality.
Solution: Do some research, then fix that plot point or dialogue that makes you sound like a phoney, even to yourself.
It happens to the best of us. Not all of us are a doctor (or a lawyer or an indian shaman) but we're going to play one on the page, we better sound and act the role.
And, FYI: No, I am NOT backtracking off my advice in Tip #7 (Fixing your story in post-editing). I'm just trying to save you a whole lotta heartache.
Believe me, you can still make your daily word count. This fix is your above-and-beyond. Extra homework, if you may.
SO GET ON IT.
(c) 2011 Josie Brown
I've got a question for you, and be honest: Are you stuck? If so, what do you think is your problem?