BA Quest

Where College Students Meet Their Fate

Now You Must NaNoWriMo!

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Over the last four years there has only been one event that has made me put all other goals on hold. That is the amateur writer’s digital pilgrimage, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo to its friends.

From November 1st through November 30th, writers from all around hunker down for the chilly holiday season by spilling their sanity across notebooks, loose leafs, and keyboards. If you aren’t already getting paid ‘phat ducats’ through your writing, there is very little reason not to participate. Well, there is the whole time-consuming-exercise-purely-for-your-own-benefit thing. No one will pay you, sure, but if you manage to make it to the 50k words that signify a NaNo winner, you won’t have much left to do in life. I mean, writing a novel in a month’s time has to be at the top of a lot of bucket lists.

For this junior starving artist, NaNoWriMo started off as something to do because I really had nothing to do. I was done with community college, and I hadn’t started going to university yet. What could I do that would signify that all my talk of being a writer wasn’t a bunch of bluster? Well I could have started an internship at a publishing firm, or started writing on blogs so that I could actually have a career today. Yeah, that would have been the ticket. Instead I did NaNoWriMo, and the rest is not even worth history.

My trophy

I wrote 50k words and all I got was this microscopic .gif

So what does the average NaNoWriMo look like for me? It usually starts a few days before the big event. I remember my first year I made the decision of what to write about the week before it started. This may not cause alarm for some, but let me spell this problem out for you. When you are writing a novel, fifty-thousand words, you need an atomic butt-load of content. I’m not talking your momma’s butt-loads, this is some new age junk. I had a wonderfully creative idea, that I stole from the anime Big-O. What if everyone woke up and didn’t have their memories? I decided that I didn’t like how Big-O was conveniently sometime later when everyone got over losing their memories. I wanted the nitty-gritty, the chaos and bloodshed, the return of civilization from the ashes of amnesia.

I just didn’t plan out a single darn word of it.

The story started well enough. A man wakes up in a bed, doesn’t know who he is. What can I say, I was a genius in 2008. The story trailed from event to event, with the man stumbling, without language or comprehension for the world around him, through the remains of civilization. He finds a dog, he finds a girl, and then he finds a community. Altogether it wasn’t the worst thing ever written. I learned a lot while writing it. Romance is very hard to do when a character should only understand the basics of their body and non-verbal communication. Things get stereotypical quick when you don’t have a plan in advance. Your novel will never end where you want it to end.

My original idea ran dry at about 20k, too far away from the 50k goal. While the original idea was going to be guy meets lady, figure out they can do this together, credits, I trailed into a plot of jealousy and revenge. The ending was far from what I expected. I clamped it closed with the ‘twist’ I designed when I began, that the main character was not as cool as he thought he was. At that point though, the twist was a hanger-on to a deeper story, with a deeper purpose.

That is what NaNoWriMo does, it takes what you expect to do, and it turns it on its head. You cannot just pull NaNoWriMo out of your atomic butt. You also cannot just turn off NaNoWriMo. If it sticks, it is going to take you for a ride that you didn’t expect. That is why it has ballooned up from its original 21 participants to over 200,000. A community that should be in major cities across the US (and more?).

This year I will be writing a story that I don’t think I can share with the world. At the same time I’ve done more preparation for this novel than any other I have written. Four short stories have already been finished in the same alternate-history setting as the main novel, and one more should be done before the 1st of November. I know my world, I know my character, I know his problem and his views. Now I just need to shut myself away from the world, and go mad for a month or so.

I’ll see you all in December. Hope you do something amazing in the meantime.

Written by MD Kid

10/27/2011 at 3:43 AM

Posted in Other

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One Response

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  1. I participated in NaNoWriMo last year, didn’t get far. Made progress on a Ragnarok fanfiction. I’d certainly like to join in this year, but I might be too busy this time 😦 Good luck to you. And if you do write 50k words… publish it! 😀 The best books are the ones you shouldn’t share. In my opinion anyway.

    Drew Scott

    10/27/2011 at 6:18 AM

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