NaNoWriMo Is Not the Name of Pocahontas’s Sister


So NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow–I hate that abbreviation but what are you going to do?–and millions of people will sit down and start to type. Since I’ve been writing a lot lately, I thought I’d give it another try this year, but although I can find my dashboard on the website, I can’t find the place to put in the word count. It hasn’t started and I’ve failed. Then I thought I’d cut and paste their explanation of what NaNoWriMo is. Couldn’t find it. Either I’m inept–a strong possibility–or their website needs work. So I went to Wikipedia:

National Novel Writing Month, shortened as NaNoWriMo (na-noh-ry-moh),[2] is an annual internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel from November 1 until the deadline at 11:59PM on November 30. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to get people writing and keep them motivated throughout the process. To ensure this, the website provides participants with tips for writer’s block, local places writers participating in NaNoWriMo are meeting, and an online community of support. The idea is to focus on completion instead of perfection. NaNoWriMo focuses on the length of a work rather than the quality, encouraging writers to finish their first draft so that it can later be edited at the author’s discretion.[3] NaNoWriMo’s main goal is to encourage creativity worldwide.[4] The project started in July 1999 with just 21 participants, but by the 2010 event over 200,000 people took part – writing a total of over 2.8 billion words.[5]

There you go. Write 50,000 words in November and . . . I forget what they do for you. Writing 50,000 words should be reward enough.

So who who’s playing this year? And what are you writing? Tell all.

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The Monday Street First Act Character Map


I’ve talked before about character maps. They seem like a complete waste of time–my McDaniel students are never enthusiastic when I assigned them–but they’re the best way I know to see the relationships between and among the characters. Toni and I have added enough characters to the first act of the story that by now that we need a map. Here are the relationships in the first act:


The Birth of Whatsit


Sometimes people ask, “How do you think up these things?” I always say, “Thinking has nothing to do with it.” At least not in the logical-planning-train-of-thought kind of way. Another good thing about collaborating with somebody is when you’re done discovering a character, you have the e-mails to show you how you did it. So here’s how Whatsit came out of the nowhere and into the here, done entirely in e-mails (although this stuff was embedded in emails about other things, so this was background noise most of the day):


The Crypt Problem


So we’re blocking out scenes, and I realize I have the wrong goal for Cat. I know it’s the wrong goal because she doesn’t give a damn about it. Scratch heat for the winter. read more >>

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Discovery Drafting


Every time I write a book, I have to learn how to do it all over again. I panic every damn time. One of the hardest things to remember is that I don’t really know what the book is about until I start writing. That is, my first (and second and third and fourth and . . ) draft is a discovery draft. I don’t know what I’m writing about until I see what I say. read more >>