Wordcount Jumble


Wordcount Jumble makes a game out of your daily writing session. Play it as you write a novel or participate in NaNoWriMo. It can help take characters to new locations, do unexpected things and interact with other characters in surprising ways.

List Locations, Characters, and Actions
List up ten items in each of the following categories:

Locations in which your story will take place. For example: The deserts of Tatooine. Mos Eisley cantina. The command room of the Death Star. The corridors of the Death Star. The home base of the rebellion. Aboard the Millennium Falcon.

Characters who will be featured in your story. For example: Luke Skywalker, a new hope for the galaxy. Han Solo, the pragmatic rogue. Princess Leia, the rebel leader. Obi-Wan Kenobi, the mysterious elder. Emperor Palpatine, dark ruler of the cruel empire. Darth Vader, loyal right hand to the emperor.

Actions the characters will do in your story. For example: Bond. Argue. Learn. Teach. Fight.

Number-List Each Item
Order the items in each category in a numbered list from from 0 to 9. If you have fewer than ten items in a category, consider which item you'd want to occur more frequently in your story and include those items multiple times in the list. In all cases, lower numbered items will appear in your story more frequently. For example:

Locations
0-2 The deserts of Tatooine.
3-4 Aboard the Millennium Falcon.
4-6 The corridors of the Death Star.
7 The command room of the Death Star.
8 Mos Eisley cantina.
9 The home base of the rebellion.

Characters
0-2 Luke Skywalker, a new hope for the galaxy.
3-5 Darth Vader, loyal right hand to the emperor.
6 Han Solo, the pragmatic rogue.
7 Princess Leia, the rebel spy.
8 Obi-Wan Kenobi, the mysterious elder.
9 Emperor Palpatine, dark ruler of the cruel empire.

Actions
0 Bond.
1 Argue.
2-3 Learn.
4-5 Teach.
6-9 Fight.


How to Play
Now, as you write your novel, keep track of your word count each day. When you're done writing for the day, the day's word count gives you the basic outline of a scene that will happen in your story when you continue writing tomorrow. The locations correspond to the thousands-digit of your word count. The characters correspond to the hundreds-digit. The actions correspond to the tens digit. Optionally, you can use the ones digit as a character to whom your first character will perform that action.

Example: Today, you wrote 2,459 words. Tomorrow, when you continue writing, there will be a scene that takes place on the deserts of Tatooine (Location: 2). There, Darth Vader [Character: 4] will teach [Action: 5] Emperor Palpatine [Character: 9].

Figuring out how to set up, execute and resolve this scene will give you a goal in your next writing session. Even if the exercise doesn't lead to anything useful, it gives you a goal for the day's writing and can help break you out of a rut.

Try expanding and varying the categories, too, like a category for Motivation or for a set of important Objects. You can also try setting your favorite locations and characters at higher numbers, pushing you to write just a little bit more so you can bring them into a critical point in the story.
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.