Monday, October 24, 2011

What's YOUR Story?

Ever flirt with the idea of writing a novel? Do you sometimes cringe when reading a book, knowing how a scene could have been written or plotted better? Do TSTL* or completely ridiculous characters or stilted dialogue make you grind your teeth in frustration? Your chance to do it better is coming.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an event that occurs, alliteratively enough, every November. The rules are simple, admission is free and unrestricted, and there are helpful online fora where you can interact with your fellow aspiring authors for advice, help, and consolation or cheers. There are even threads offering orphaned plots and characters up for grabs if you don't happen to have what you need right at hand.
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.
NaNoWriMo has even lined up a stable of published authors whose pep talks will be emailed to participants over the course of the month. (If any persp, er, aspiring author has time to read them!)

All participants who meet the requirements by November 30 are declared winners, and earn a certificate and e-badge suitable for display on their websites. Finding an editor and publisher for their deathless prose is up to them, although I'm afraid that I've read a few self-published as ebooks without rewrites!

Those who fall by the wayside get to lick their wounds, wear the Cone of Shame, and brood about their poor choices to sleep, eat, and work when they should have been writing. Maybe next year!

In 2010, 84 participants from around the world wrote over nine million words. Only 44 entrants finished, with the longest entry achieving 175,000 words. That's overkill; the required 50,000 words is about 175 pages, or 1600-1700 words a day for 30 days.

Here are the rules in their entirety, from the website:
  • Write a 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between November 1 and November 30.
  • Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people’s works).
  • Write a novel. We define a novel as a lengthy work of fiction. If you consider the book you’re writing a novel, we consider it a novel too!
  • Be the sole author of your novel. Apart from those citations mentioned two bullet-points up.
  • Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.
  • Upload your novel for word-count validation to our site between November 25 and November 30.
The prestigious Man Booker Prize was awarded this month to Julian Barnes for The Sense of an Ending, a short novel of only about 50,000 words. While I suspect the author spent rather more time than a month writing and polishing it, every author has to start somewhere. So what are you waiting for?

* Too stupid to live.


  1. Ok...this is too funny and fun sounding not to try!

  2. ksam, I totally agree. Dreaming up characters and plotting without worrying about whether it makes any sense sounds fun to me.

    Peri, are you going to give it a try? Anybody else?

  3. Ksam, go for it! You have nothing to lose but time and sleep. I'm sure all of the Material Witnesses will join me in cheering you on!

    Georgette, I have enough trouble writing short blog posts and emails, but really admire anyone who would take on the challenge. It's fun even to read the fora while the contest is running.

  4. No, I won't be writing for November's Novel Writing Month. I'm a No Nonsense Nincompoop Novelist with No Nose for the Niceties or Nuances Needed for that.

  5. I just checked out the website, and sponsors are offering participants free writing demo software for the month, and half price coupons after that.

    Might be worth signing up for the goodies...

  6. Won't all the material witnesses on this website do this since they do their blpgs standing on their heads?

    I'd do it myself but my typing is so slow 50,000 words would take me a year, not a month. I think you'd do a great story, cave76. Kev

  7. I'm still puzzling out No Nonsense Nincompoop Novelist. Cave76, I don't think niceties OR nuances are required for NaNoWriMO.

    Kev, you could use speech to text software. Then you too could publish novels just bursting with homophones.

  8. Hey, was that a homophonic remark?

    In the spirit of Read Me Deadly, maybe the Material Witnesses should each write a chapter one day a week in November. That would leave slots open on Saturday and Sunday for volunteers. Just imagine the novel that methodology could produce.

    By the way, I'm just kidding. Though I did have an idea for a mystery series yesterday . . .

  9. Sister MM, full disclosure compels me to admit that I am both homophonic and apostrophobic.

    Peggie, are you signing up?

  10. Periphera said

    **** full disclosure compels me to admit that I am both homophonic and apostrophobic.***

    I resemble that remark!