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A Salute to All Who NaNo
coffee, deadline
(NaNo is short for National Novel Writing Month, which just happens to run Nov 1 to 30 each year. "NaNo is also a verb which can be defined as "to write and/or perform writing-related activities by participants in NaNoWriMo between Nov 1 & 30.

I haven't participated in a NaNoWriMo for about three years now, since I already have several files filled with manuscripts waiting to be completed. "The Gryphon & the Basilisk" made a huge jump forward, thanks to a NaNoWriMo. Four other manuscripts were originally NaNo projects which are currently just a whisker away from completion--namely, "Marooned", "Da Boid, da Tree-Rat, 'n' da Loser", and my family memoir. The fourth not-quite-finished NaNo manuscript, "The Peace Bride", made it past the traditional 50,000 word goal but it still lacks something like 2/5 of its story. (I really -love- PB's beginning & would so love to finish it some day!)

Even though I am no longer an official NaNoWriMo participant these days, I continue to support NaNoWriMo's objectives & philanthropy each year. More on this later, including links to entries describing what The Office of Letters and Light people do behind the scenes, and how you can help . As you'll see, you can help out even if you don't write or else can't devote all of a November to writing,

For now, the extract below was snatched from my November 21 2008 blog entry. Keep in mind that to officially "win" NaNoWriMo, you need to write 50,000 words by November 30, or approximately 1,667 words a day. Keep something firmly in mind from the instant you begin: Editing is for afterwards! One of NaNoWriMo's chief purposes is to help authors ignore their Inner Editor, open themselves to inspiration, -and- -just- WRITE- !  December through however months afterwards is reserved for going back to the beginning and editing. Yes, you'll have a lot still to do but in many ways editing can be easier than trying to decide how best to get from Point A to Point B in the plot (or maybe geographically), or how to have Millicent meet Daulphrey, which one of them is attracted to the other one first, what they choose do about, and --oh yeah, the biggie--when does the countess suspect & what/who tipped her off? Aren't you glad your inspiration was at fever pitch (courtesy of no Inner Editor) so you were able to blow through those snarls in a day and a half?

On an average NaNo day, I could write those 1667 words without needing to be in Author Anguish by virtue of thinking of little else but pushing full steam ahead. If gripped totally by my "muse" I could write as much as 5000 in one day. (Well, okay, not often. ;-P  )  If one scene wasn't working, I would type in a brief synopsis of what that scene needed to accomplish, and then shift to a more welcoming scene. It may sound totally random & anxiety-producing--And some days, it is.--but it can also be totally fun! The strangest bits of inspiration can pop into your head when that tiresome Inner Editor is locked away in the highest turret in the old manse. Of course on those very rare occasions when I cranked out 4-5000 words in one day, virtually nothing else got done. Okay. Yeah. I did some breathing, etc.

The one thing to keep in mind: No matter if you write 500, 5000, or 50,000 words by the end of the month, that's 500, 5000, or 50,000 words you didn't have 30 days earlier! As soon as you write anything with your "Inner Editor" locked away, you're already "won NaNo". And more importantly, you've just strengthened your creativity. Trust me--there's no downside.

But onward to my whimsical entry from NaNoWriMo 2008.

Are you desperate to extend your NaNoWriMo word count? May I suggest:

A long and heartfelt dedication to everyone you have ever known, with the reasons why they are included on the multi-page list. Think acceptance speeches at the Oscars;

A Table of Contents (Make up names for your chapters like the descriptive ones they used for book titles in the 19th century. examples: "Chapter the Third, in which Alice sees a White Rabbit Running by and Follows Him Down a Rabbit Hole;
Chapter the Fourth in Which Darth Vader Cuts off Luke's Hand, Announces That He is the Youth's Father and Actually Expects Luke to join Forces --if you'll excuse the expression-- With Him on the Spot...)

An Author Biography, some of which may be accurate;

Unnecessary Footnotes that can be written without much thought.
* The song Ruthie was humming to her baby was of course "American Pie", in the arrangement used by Don McLean on the such-and-such date album, the words of which refer to the plane crash in which....yada yada.

Maps don't count toward NaNo, unless you care to make a list of the names of cities, rivers and interstate routes which would be printed on them, or else make a list of the furniture in the locked room in which the body was found. However, you can write up a  thorough description of the map that will be included in your book in the hardback edition. Don't forget to describe the background colors and any decorations or borders.

Transcribe dialogue of whatever TV show you are watching when you are supposed to be writing. (A-hem!) If your story takes place on 21st century Earth, one or more of your characters can be watching the show. If two of your characters are watching the show, you can interpolate lines of their dialogue with lines of dialogue from the show. Since this will be confusing to the reader, be sure to use attributions for all of the dialogue. Hint: the proper attribution for the overheard dialogue from a TV show should always include the name of the show, the date, the screenwriter and the name of the actor who delivered the lines, for maximum word-padding and so that it is clear that you are not plagiarizing. This additional information can be placed in a footnote if you like. (See Footnotes, above).

If you are writing an historic novel or a fantasy novel, you can have the character dream all of the events in the TV episode. Don't forget to have them wonder for hours after awakening about the meaning of their dream and how it applies to fighting for Napoleon and/or releasing the captured unicorn.

If you fall asleep at your keyboard and type gibberish, do not delete it. Wrap a scene around it in which the protagonist discovers a mysterious message written in code and tries to translate it.

What is not allowed: Scanning in a page of your favorite novel using OCR software, then using Replace All to change all of the character names and locations to people and places in your own story. Cutting and pasting the result into your NaNo manuscript.

(Seriously, someone created a writing exercise in  which you are instructed to do something like this with the first couple of paragraphs of a favorite book. You also need to change the verbs, if I remember correctly.Then you use that as the nucleus for a completely different story. I've always wanted to try this but I've never had the time.)


P.S. Goodreads Quote of the Day
Write what you know. That should leave you with a lot of free time.
Howard Nemerov

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