31 October 2007

On you mark, get set ...


I love getting the emails from Chris!

Dear NaNoWriMo participant

Well, we're on the cusp of another beautiful noveling November. The turn-out so far has been phenomenal. Between our main program and Young Writers Program, we'll have over 90,000 authors on board by the end of the week, making this officially the largest NaNoWriMo since the event was first adapted from an Andorran mule-wrestling ceremony back in 1999.

For those of you who are new to NaNo, I want to quickly run through the noveling schedule for the month ahead.

Step 1: Keep reading this email; learn the secret of NaNoWriMo.
Step 2: Wait for 12:01 AM local time on November 1.
Step 3: Write a novel.

No problem.

Okay, back to Step 1. The secret of NaNoWriMo. Which is this: There is a door in your brain. The door has been there your whole life. You may not have noticed it before because it blends in with everything else in your brain. Weird art. Mismatched furniture. Squis hy gray bits clinging to everything.

So what does this door have to do with your novel?

Your job this month is not so much writing a book (which is intimidating) as it is finding that door (which is easy).

It's easy because you'll have guides in November who will take you right to it.

These guides are also known as your characters. They're kind of an abstract notion now, but you'll meet them in all their glory in Week One of NaNoWriMo. They'll be a strange lot. Insecure warlocks. Stamp-collecting squirrels. Teenage detectives.

Whoever shows up, go with them. And go quickly. You may have a general sense of where you're going together; you may not. It doesn’t matter. Just write your allotment of 1667 words (or more) on November 1. Don't edit any of it. Editing is for December. Then come back and write another 1667 words the next day. And the next. And the next.

By Week Two, you'll be at the door. A few words later, you'll be through it. You'll know you're there because the writing will feel different. Less like work, and more like watching a gloriously imperfect movie with cringe-worthy dialogue, heaps of confusing tangents, and moments of brilliance so delightful that you'll want to scream.

Once you've stepped through that door into the vast reaches of your imagination, you'll be able to return there as often as you like. It's an enchanted, intoxicating place, and there are other great things besides novels in there.

But we'll talk about that later.

For now, here's our game plan for the coming week.

1) Make sure you've affiliated with a region and then made it your Home Region. This is a two-step process. You do it by signing in and then going to the My Regions page of My NaNoWriMo. The far-left tab gives you a list of regions to choose from. Choose one by clicking "affiliate," then go to the far-right tab called Home Region and make sure your region is ticked.

2) Make sure you have your Edit Profile settings geared to allow emails from us (if you got this, you're good), and that your email program knows to accept messages from noreply@nanowrimo.org. Pep talks from esteemed authors will begin landing in your inbox this week, and will continue to arrive every four days or so. To turn off emails from us, just head to Edit Profile and change your settings to "No mail."

3) On November 1: Begin writing. At this point, you'll be able to begin updating your word count on the Author Info tab of the Edit Profile page. You can do this on the honor system by just typing in the number, or you can paste the whole book in and let our robots count it for you. If you paste your book, please scramble it first, using instructions in our FAQ. You can also post an excerpt of your book in the same area of the Edit Profile page.

4) For the first week of the event, the site will be on fire. This year we moved to a completely new back-end system, and it has made me beat my head against the wall almost every single day. Pages disappear. Parts fall off. Error screens everywhere. It handles high traffic the way a country lane would handle a freeway. We have so many plans on rebuilding the site it for next year it's not even funny. But for now, we have to work with what we've got. Russ is making all the improvements he can to make it suck less.

If the site isn't functional, just postpone updating your word count until the dust settles. NaNoWriMo does not live on a website. It lives in your heart, in your powerful typing fingers, and in your dramatically escalating word count.

We'll keep working on the site. You keep working on your novel.

Together we will rock November.

Happy noveling, everyone! We're so glad to have you writing with us.


Originally posted in [info]writing_is_fun on LJ

30 October 2007

writing advice for newcomers to nano

[info]pxcampbell posted this as advice for newcomers on

and I thought it was perfect.

"Well, I am a newcomer, but not a new writer. So, I'll give advice to those of you who are newly tackling writing -- just write. Don't worry about you write; just extrude words. If the eloquent words don't come to you as quickly as you'd like for a section -- then mark it with something that will pop out. I use markers like "ADD MORE CRAP HERE." But keep going. You can, and will, come back to it on the next draft. On the next draft you're more likely to be sure what you *need* to say at that point, which makes it easier to write.

The most important place you need to get to when you write a novel is the point at which the characters take over. It's The Outer Limits Moment -- you are no longer in control of the set. It's the point at which you know enough about your players that there are only a few different ways they can react to any situation -- so they begin to write the story for you. Once you reach this point, writing the remainder of the wordage is relatively easy -- a downhill coast.

Keep in mind, though, that once you reach this place -- where your characters are talking to you -- you might have to go back and redo a lot of the story you've written. Just live with the fact and get over it! Don't go back and tear it out yet. Leave it there -- and write new the stuff. Just keep going. You have the second draft for figuring out what scenes to ax. November is not the time."

That point when the characters start taking over and writing the novel themselves is one of the coolest things to ever happen to me.

ang: "The Outer Limits Moment": One of my characters was strangely attracted to a maid in the hotel... they crossed paths more than once. He started to wonder exactly which shift she worked since he saw her at random times of the day. She noticed him too, and he didn't think he was dreaming that their attraction was mutual. They finally talked, and...

It turned out that she was an actress, currently filming in a Las Vegas hotel. And they hooked up. I totally did not see that coming! :)

Originally posted in [info]writing_is_fun on LJ

27 October 2007

possible opening lines

I don't have any idea who my characters are, nor do I have a plot, so I was browsing the nano forums looking for ideas. I wrote down some of my favorites from the adopt-an-opening-line forum. Unfortunately I can't take credit for any of these.

I honestly didn't think it would work, but as my life is a cosmic joke anyway, it stands to reason that this would be the perfect punch line.

Some suicides write a note to leave behind; I'm writing a novel.

She kept a notebook on her person at all times, just in case someone would say something interesting - sadly, it hadn't happened yet.

They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but you'd be hard pressed to win a dual with one.

'It's not me, it's you' didn't even begin to sum it up.

The world was her oyster; she hated oysters.

Some things aren't worth dying for. This was one of them.

And my personal favorite because it's so Douglas Adams-like: Some believe the world will end with a bang; others believe it will end with a whimper. I've seen it, and it ends with something that sounds alarmingly like a duck being stepped on.

Originally posted in [info]writing_is_fun on LJ