Nov 5, 2015

It's the #NaNoWriMo!

Did you sing the title to the tune of "it's the final countdown"?  If not, please go back and read it again.

Now that you're pumped, let's talk about my current favorite topic!  I'm participating in NaNoWriMo (for the uninitiated, that's National Novel Writing Month), and I'm having a blast.  I'm also less excited about blog posts, because all my writing energy is being diverted into my daily word quota.  Didn't realize it was a limited resource, but there you have it.

I'd had a story idea back in May.  I played around with it, mostly at meetings when I was trapped with nothing but a notepad and pencil.  But it was always a "maybe later" kind of thing.  Enter NaNoWriMo.

A few days before November, people started talking about this weird word that I vaguely remember seeing last year.  I actually went to the website, read more about it, and thought, "I have a book idea."

I kept thinking, "Well, I always give myself too many projects.  I can do it later."  But then I thought, "What if later never comes?"

I made an account.  I read the resources.  I realized I'm a planner, not a "pantser" and I really needed to get some background documents together.  The 3 days leading up to November were a flurry of Halloween interspersed with daydreaming and hastily jotted notes.  Honestly?  Halloween kind of sucked.  So I'm glad I had something positive to focus on.

I've been pouring my little heart out and I love it.  Let me tell you about my story.

My main character is Matt and he's a huge nerd.  I modeled him after Ryan and myself and he's important, because it's through his eyes that we see the story, but he's not THAT important.

You get to see my crappy concept sketches!  Hooray!!!  Matt and his friends playing D&D in their dorm room before craziness happens and Matt finds himself in "fantasy land."

The truly important characters are 7 princesses (seven because three and seven are the most commonly used numbers in fairy tales and three was too few) in a fantasy land that need rescuing.  Except that they don't.

So Matt rescues them to fulfill some cheesy, antiquated prophecy, and then the ladies take over and get to work.  I was going to make a point of the ladies being disgusted by the prophecy's old-fashioned criteria, but then I decided my world didn't have to have gender inequality in the first place.  So instead they're all mildly confused about it, but not too upset because the whole damsel in distress trope never existed in their world.

There's also a narrator who makes snarky remarks.  He/she/it amuses me no end, but I might end up removing this element from the story because I'm not entirely sure it serves a purpose.  I was aiming for an irreverent Terry Pratchett/Douglas Adams style narration but I'm not sure I have the skills to make that come to life.

I'm noticing a couple things as this story forms:
  • I love my own writing.  No humility here.  I mean, I'm not going to brag that I'm awesome (because that's rude), but as I write and when I reread, I'm so in love with it that it's ridiculous.  I know it can't possibly be as good as it seems to me, so I'm going to need to find some external perspective to help me with feedback and to get a realistic idea of the weak areas.
  • The first draft is going to be a lot less fleshed-out than I want.  At first I was trying to figure out how to make it read less like a YA book, but then I realized getting the story down is the first step.  Then I'll go back through and make the world fuller and richer and add detail to the bare bones of "he said this" and "she did that."
  • World building is my jam!  I did this once before in high school, and it's never enough for me to build a story on the framework of our own Earth.  I made up my own planet, thought about how it orbits, how the inhabitants evolved, and even how the laws of physics might differ there.  I love doing this but it also means that, as long as I stay consistent with my own rules, no one can call me out on inaccurately depicting something.  Because it's not our world or culture!

My crappy sketch attempting to show the world layout and trying to figure out if that kind of orbit is even scientifically possible/what that would mean for daytime vs nighttime and what the climate would be like with 2 suns.

Now I'm a newb to this writing community, but I've already seen some "professional" do-gooder author sharing his (highly condescending) opinion of why NaNo isn't "that terrible" even though the premise is awful and the forums suck, and so on and so forth.  Obviously I took some issue to that.  I don't think anyone believes they're going to write a masterpiece in 30 days and be done.  I DO think the community serves the following purposes:
  • Gets us started!  I signed up on a whim and you know what?  I am fully confident that I am going to see this through.  All I needed was that initial push.
  • Accountability.  No, a certain word count isn't what matters.  But having that goal in front of us keeps us writing through the writer's block and uninspired moments.  It builds the habit.
  • Makes it fun!  I love updating my word count, and Kelli and I have been checking in with each other and sharing our experiences.  I love it!
  • Resources.  Honestly, I don't love the resources NaNoWriMo provides, but even if they don't give you all the information you need, they get you started thinking about how to more fully flesh out your story.
  • Confidence.  I think people are reluctant to admit they'd like to write a book, even though most of us feel we have a story somewhere inside ourselves.  NaNo makes it something to be proud of, something to celebrate, and something to have fun doing.

Anyone else out there participating?  Let's buddy up and talk word counts, character development, and plot holes!  (Melissandre, if you're reading this, GET STARTED AND FRIEND ME!  You can do it!!!)

Have you/are you participating in NaNoWriMo?  If you were to write a book, what would it be about?


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7 comments:

  1. I think it's awesome that you're doing this! Your book sounds exactly like the kind of book I'd read...so I hope I get the chance to do so someday!!! I'd love to do something like this someday, but now is simply not the time in my life :)

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  2. I think its fantastic. I wanted to but I really have a lot going on and blah blah blah bunch of excuses....I do have ideas and then jot them down. Maybe one day I will talk myself into just doing it.

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  3. YAYAYAYAY!! I've never formally participated in NaNoWriMo because November always ends up being the most task-heavy month for me, but I do use it to motivate me to finish up other writing goals. I've been working on a writing project since summer and I want to finish draft 1 by the end of the month. Cheering you on from here and knowing you'll "win" NaNo! Woooo!

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  4. I love that you are doing NanoWriMo!!! I had just had a discussion about it with my friend Laura last night who is participating as well. I confessed to her that I had a book idea and may get around to jotting it out one day but wasn't ready now. She has kept up so far with her words and I hope both you and her finish them out this month! I think you book sounds awesome and I will totally be a reader!!!

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  5. Yayyyy you, I've been thinking to myself that some parts I've already written are going to need a lot more detail but I'm just pushing ahead trying to get it down on paper. I never go back and read what I've written, when I stop my characters are just suspended in their current setting waiting for me to tell them what to do next.

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  6. 1. What's a Pantser?
    2. I love your sketches!! Especially the new planet you are creating!
    3. I'm sorry you had a crappy Halloween :( but so happy you started writing your story! Good luck!

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  7. i am not, but yay! what is a pantser? when can i read your book? ;)

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