Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NaNoWriMo Preparation #5

Project Name: NaNoWriMo
Target Task List
A4       Buy small gifts to give to the children throughout the month, sort of like a NaNoWriMo Advent calendar. 
Include new underwear, paper plates and bowls, shelf-stable milk, 
and a family photo to remind them of how nice they look when properly groomed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

NanoWriMo Preparation #4

Project Name: NaNoWriMo
Target Task List
A3       Like Ricky, send a letter to yourself: only make yours more alpha and less numeric.

To outline, or not to outline, that is the question.

It would seem that fiction writers gravitate strongly toward one position or another. I've written a thing or two, and I tend to "write-talk" my way to the story. I free write, I get a concept, I write or talk the concept until I have some idea of a basic story arc, and then I get to the awkward, Frankenstein-ian process of giving the arc life.

This process has always been on such a small scale; it's hard to imagine applying it to the great lurching monster known as Novel. How much do I need to do right now in order to complete something as insane as a first draft of a 50,000 word novel in 30 days?

I snooped around and found this article at writersdigest.com. It's an interview with David Morrell and Ken Follett. Follett is an outliner, but Morrell does something a little different:

... when I write a book, I write a letter to myself. And I say, “It’s going to take you this amount of time, probably, to write the book—why is this project worth a year of your life?” And there has to be something about the material, the research, the excitement of the research, maybe the way the story is written, that would make me, when I was all done, hopefully fuller and better.
... it occurs to me that my letter to myself, which can go on as long as 24 single-spaced pages—this is a long document—and as I go in, why is this project so important that you would write about it for a year or more, why do you want to write it, where’d the idea come from, and what I begin doing is asking myself questions … and [in one instance in particular] it took me pages to work that out, and so in a way I was outlining, but I was just doing it a different way.
So I'm off to send a letter to myself. Why will this experience be worth lo these many hours?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

NanoWriMo Preparation #3

Project Name: NaNoWriMo
Target Task List
A2       Read a tremendous amount of fiction

I've decided to steep my brain in novels before tackling NaNoWriMo in November. I've just finished "The Manual of Detection" by Jedidiah Berry. A surrealist twist on the mystery genre, I enjoyed it. Up next, "The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet" by Reif Larsen. After that, if it's still October, what would you suggest?

Friday, October 15, 2010

NaNoWriMo Preparation #2

Project Name: NaNoWriMo
Target Task List
AA1          Renew vow to time management

On the day we came together over a cup of coffee and my first Franklin Planner, 
I pledged to spend the first moments of every day thinking of you.
I confess my failures:
the Sega Genesis Golf period, 
the AOL chat and forum phase, 
my wanton soft-tip dart throwing,
countless hours spent writing my own eulogy, 
my current facebookery and twittering. 
These trollops come and go, but you are a constant.
I will never again allow these tiny pleasures to eclipse your steady goodness.
 Dearest time management, to you I pledge my devotion. 
To keep me honest, I ask that you hold me accountable and  follow me on twitter.
What? No. It is not a rationalization. I can stop any time I want.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

NaNoWriMo Preparation #1

Project Name: NaNoWriMo
Target Task List
A1          Learn to use a calculator 

Yesterday, in a wild moment of overconfidence, I was doing math in my head. I said it would take 1,334 words a day in the month of November to achieve my goal for National Novel Writing Month. This would have left me almost 10,000 words short. The correct figure is 1667. 

If only all of life's problems were as easy as a recalculation!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo

I am not a novelist. I am not a fiction writer. What on earth am I doing signing up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)?

I'd like to claim peer pressure made me do it, but that's not it. It would be fun to say that I've always dreamed of writing the Lesser American Novel, but that's not it either. The concrete goal draws me: 50,000 words in 30 days. The marathon nature intrigues and challenges me. It's not 1334 words a day, it's 1334 linked words, connected words, words disciplined and directed to tell a story that might engage or delight. Being forced to keep going with one idea appeals to me, because I flit about so easily.

Ultimately, I love a good story, and I like to explore ways of telling a story, so why not a novel? 

Come November (the Mo in question), I will be devoting this space to brief thoughts about writing. In these days prior to the race, I plan to get some things in order to prepare for what I predict will be a wild ride. Planning and preparing are not the same as doing, of course, so we shall see and we shall see.