Friday, November 4, 2011

NaNoWriMo: the First 10k

So,  a lot of people are talking about National Novel Writing Month. A lot of people are doing NaNoWriMo, which is awesome!

As the files in the "Writing" folders on my computer can attest, it is in fact easier to start a story or a novel than finish one. But sometimes, obviously, starting can be hard too.

For NaNoWriMo, the very basic goal is to write 1667 words a day, for 30 days, to reach a total of 50k words. Today, I just reached 10,023 words, which is pleasing. In the past, I've sometimes skipped days, and had to write like crazy to catch up. This year,  I started at Midnight on the first, and I've written every day. I even broke the rules a little bit and did a teensy amount of research, reading "Witches and Zombies of the South African Lowveld: Discourse, Accusations and Subjective Reality", by Isak Niehaus. Yup, that's a real article. Published in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. And it was really very interesting and gave me a way to have zombies in my Steampunk without having to necessarily introduce the supernatural, which I had not in the previous two novels in the chronology.

Sometimes, research can get in the way. Sometimes, it's three hours later, and ten Wikipedia pages later, and you're on Google Documents at 3 in the morning reading a magazine article from New York in 1865. You didn't write anything, but boy howdy, did you learn. And that's all right too. But, with NaNoWriMo, you want to really put the pedal to the metal (pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, whatever) and get it out so that you win! So research can be a pain, and you should instead put a big ol' note in your draft that says something like "LOOK THIS UP IN DECEMBER". Because your NaNoWriMo novel is a draft, don't fool yourself. Please don't fool yourself (because otherwise publishers will do all the laughing for you, I'm told). This pell-mell adventure gives you the great kernel of a novel, but it isn't necessarily copy-ready, and might have a lot of kinks in it. Or stuff to take out. Or stuff to research, which will add more body and depth to the story.

Novel responsibly, kids.

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