Friday, October 4, 2013

Preparing for Nano

So it's October again, which means I'm beginning the countdown to National Novel Writing Month (International Novel Writing Month to be precise) in November, and beginning to prepare.

For those of you who haven't come across it - NaNoWriMo is when a whole heap of people sit down to write a novel, or part thereof, in a month. Fifty-thousand words is the official target, and if you make it to the fifty-thousand you get a cute little banner and certificate, the smug satisfaction that you've done it and fifty-thousand words humming contentedly at you from your computer.

This year I've also done two 'Camp NaNos'. The Camps have the same aim, a novel (or fifty thousand words) in a month, but lack many of the perks, although the campfire graphics are nice. The cabins never really worked for me and they just lacked that vibe. Obviously, I'm happy to have the bulk of those stories done, but the Camps were really just tasters for the main event of the year. The original, The best. NaNoWriMo.

I'm looking forward to the city meetups (people like me! wow! be still my heart). I'm looking forward to seeing all my buddies' word counts steadily rising and spurring me on. I'm looking forward to the pep talks by famous authors pinging into my inbox. Really, you're writing to me? You shouldn't have.

I'm looking forward to the deadline.

The online writers' group, Scribophile, that I am part of and love dearly, has a whole forum* which I have read (okay, skimmed; it's presently up to twenty-two fraught pages) with delight, about the evils and perils of NaNoWriMo. Basically, it's seen as a mechanism by which millions upon millions of semi-related words are dredged into the world and either released, unedited, onto an innocent audience, or destined to obscurity in a thousand dusty hard-drives.

And, yes, the posters are a hundred percent right. I'm sure a lot of the manuscripts will end up doing exactly that. But even if only a small proportion of the books produced get published (successfully, in fully edited formats) thousands of people have had fun. We've played with word and story and juggled ideas and met up with other people doing the same thing, not just in our home city or state, but online across the globe. That's gotta bring a tingle of joy to the most hardened spine? Doesn't it?

And o the joy of the deadline. The wonder of really-needing-to-get-this-done, putting off inessentials until the end of the month, to focus with whole-hearted-determination on The Story.

So I'm preparing now. Past NaNo months have painfully taught me that planning and research should be done before the month starts. Getting halfway through a month and realising you need to read a couple of dozen academic books on Edinburgh in 1801, and probably have a go at getting through the complete works of Sir Walter Scott, is lowering.

The story I've chosen to write for this November's NaNo is a fantasy based on a completely imagined world, so I don't need to do much research. I hope. But I do need to flesh out my antagonist (always my weak spot), and draw a detailed map of the Green Dragon River Delta. And maybe the plans for the Lair of the Kittubs. Okay, definitely, damn it.

I'm busy writing a quick outline of each chapter into the writing program Scrivener, and hoping that I won't have to read (too many) histories of Ancient China. And that the hankering I have to start reading about the Ottoman Empire doesn't mean anything. (Please, pretty please, don't let it mean anything!)

I'm enjoying seeing the structure coming together into something solid and strong. I'm aiming for 75,000 words all up for my novel, so twenty-five chapters (Scribophile prefers people to post their work at or under 3,000 words and I have fallen into line). Already I can see the story coming alive, as previously blurred sections clarify. Here is where I need the first assassination attempt. Here is where the major reveal takes place. Here.

My story calls. I'm away. I worked out a new chapter last night in the moments between waking and sleeping, and I want to get it down before it goes.

Is anyone else doing NaNoWriMo this year? Or considering it?
Have you started preparing yet, and if so, what are your preparations?

*Many of the writing forums on Scribophile afford me hours of entertainment. Who would have thought people could get quite so vitriolic about adverbs or semi-colons? It's refreshing to see people so passionately engaged with words and grammar.

1 comment:

  1. I actually found your blog on Scribophile and I do credit NaNoWriMo with getting me off the bench as far as writing goes. I had let it slip into something I did very rarely because my girls were so much "work." I kept updating people on my progress on my blog and now I take the time to encourage other mom/writers whenever I can that they really can write and be mothers too. It can be overwhelming at times, but in my own personal experience it is worth it.