If you’re a writer, you have to know about this amazing thing called National Novel Writing Month. The goal: write 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s a challenge, to be sure.
I first heard about NaNoWriMo in 2010, back when I first joined my writing club. However, it wasn’t until NaNoWriMo 2011 that I first took a shot at this intimidating project. My project for 2011 was a story called “The Curious Adventure of Donovan Crine”, a story about a cynical old man who goes on a journey through an eccentric dreamscape to reach his desired destination – a large house filled with books in a world where there are no people to disturb him – only to discover that he enjoyed where he had been all along.
However, if you’ve ever been in college, you can imagine that not only is 50,000 words an intimidating goal, but it has to compete with the hundreds of pages of textbook reading and multiple pages of essay writing. I ended NaNoWriMo last year with…wait for it…(drum roll)…3,719 words. Yeah. Fail.
But what I learned about writing from NaNoWriMo has been instrumental in helping me be more productive in other writing projects. I learned to write first, think later. The point of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words of a story. The goal isn’t to write something in one month that can be published the next month. It’s a rough, rough, rough draft. You have to forget about everything you learned in English class. (Well, almost everything). You have to ignore the fact that you probably made 50 grammar and spelling mistakes in the last paragraph. You might even have to forget about the fact that you changed the main character’s name half way through the story. This isn’t National Novel Editing Month. It’s National Novel Writing month.
Keeping all this in mind, I started a story last month in which I simply wrote. I let the character tell the story. I didn’t even worry about outlining for the first 5 chapters. And I didn’t worry much about editing either. That’s the story I’m working on for this year’s NaNoWriMo. I don’t have an official title for it yet, but two working titles I’ve been using are “Trail” and “Lightning Prism”. I’m starting off this year’s NaNoWriMo with a little over 13,000 words, which sounds like cheating until you realize that my goal is to write another 50,000 words to go along with it. My hope is that I’ll actually finish writing this thing by the end of November.
The story is fantasy, but I’ve been trying to put a twist on it. Like most of my other books, it’s based in an alternate world, but unlike my other stories, the world is set in a 1940s era society. The main character is Lightning, a type of assassin known as a Phantom, bred by the ruling government and treated like an animal. It’s written in first person, and is Lightning telling of how she escaped from her masters and began to learn what it meant to be human while working with a group of rebels to put an end to the corrupt government.
Over the next few days, I’ll post bits from both “The Adventure of Donovan Crine” and “Lightning Prism”, as well as updates on my progress. To anyone else who’s planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year, good luck and have fun!