Newbie Writer’s Podcast- Show Notes
Episode 9: Nanowrimo and why it doesn’t involve your Nanna.
November 12, 2011
How to start your novel
With a nod to NaNoWriMo.
Damien is starting a novel
Catharine is starting a novel.
And we approach the start and the writing in two different ways.
Damien: Explain how he starts his work which is commonly referred to as the outline method.
Catharine starts hers by just writing whatever starts to come into her head. This is known – apparently officially – as seat of the pants writing.
Neither is better, but knowing how you manage your work at least helps validate your process.
NaNoWriMo.org is a International movement based on the idea that if we just get out of our own way, we can write a novel.
The very first NaNoWriMo took place in July, 1999, in the San Francisco Bay Area. That first year there were 21 of us, and our July noveling binge had little to do with any ambitions we might have harbored on the literary front. Nor did it reflect any hopes we had about tapping more fully into our creative selves. No, we wanted to write novels for the same dumb reasons twentysomethings start bands. Because we wanted to make noise. Because we didn’t have anything better to do. And because we thought that, as novelists, we would have an easier time getting dates than we did as non-novelists.
So sad. But so, so true.
The first year’s trials and tribulations are laid out in the introduction to No Plot? No Problem!, but the short version is that our novels, despite our questionable motives and pitiful experience, came out okay. Not great. But not horrible, either. And, more surprising than that, the writing process had been really, really fun.
Fun was something we hadn’t expected. Pain? Sure. Embarrassment? Yes. Crippling self-doubt followed by a quiet distancing of ourselves from the entire project? You bet.
But fun? Fun was a revelation. Novel-writing, we had discovered, was just like watching TV. You get a bunch of friends together, load up on caffeine and junk food, and stare at a glowing screen for a couple hours. And a story spins itself out in front of you.
I think the scene—full of smack-talk and muffin crumbs on our keyboards—would have rightly horrified professional writers. We had taken the cloistered, agonized novel-writing process and transformed it into something that was half literary marathon and half block party.
We called it noveling. And after the noveling ended on August 1, my sense of what was possible for myself, and those around me, was forever changed. If my friends and I could write passable novels in a month, I knew, anyone could do it.
Quick stats for NaNoWriMo:
1999: 21 participants and six winners
2010: 200,500 participants and 37, 500 winners. Catharine won last year and is editing that manuscript as we speak, but she’s dragging her feet.
NaNoWriMo works well for both the outliner and the seat of the pants writer. The idea of banging out 50,000 words, regardless of their worth, is both scary and exhilarating.
The seat of the pantser will discover what some of her characters really want to say because she’s not overthinking.
The outliner will get something written rather than creating and plotting but not actually writing.
I love eating in a foreign country because I really do know I will never taste this food again, so I eat as much as I want. It’s a great excuse. Have you enjoyed the perfect food? Have you experienced a meal you knew you’d never encounter again? Where were you? What was it like?
Bring out your dead
Emma from Exceptional Editing and Proofreading submitted this:
I’ve had an embarrassing search through my old stuff and found something you are free to use for bring out your dead if you like.
I wrote this about 10 years ago when I first got to uni – I think I was about 17/18
Screeeeeeech. Just as I was about to step onto the street, a car screamed past at a million miles an hour. Irritated, I gave the retreating car a dirty glance and started to cross the road, but whirled around upon hearing an almighty crash.
The very same car that had almost run me down was now a crumpled heap – debris scattered all over the road. Without thinking I started running towards the car, hoping that the occupants were okay, but certain there was no way anyone could have survived the crash. All traces of irritation were long gone by the time I reached the mangled wreck. I rang 000 as I was running and, by the time I reached the car, the operator assured me that the ambulance and police were on their way.
I peered through a window of the upside down car and felt relief that the driver was the only person in the car and she appeared to be alive. Hurt – seriously hurt – but alive.
I wrote about 5 chapters and the basic plot was that the lady in the car was on her way to pay a ransom but crashed on the way. My character finds the suitcase full of money and the dying woman begs her to complete the drop-off to save her sister. My character takes the suitcase before the cops arrive and sets out to complete a series of tasks set by the kidnapper. It was a complete fizzer. Lol.
Word of the week.
The word is now rare, and requires a person with long memories to bring the details to mind:
Still running the 50-acre orchard at Breinton planted by her father, Miss Bulmer’s lifetime experience of growing and harvesting the apples for the cider mills comes alive in this well-illustrated account. She recalls “gangs” of women in the 40s picking up apples off the ground for a shilling (5p) a sack, or £1 a ton, after the fruit had been shaken off the trees with a “panking pole”.
Re-iterate the contest we have. Rainstorm Press yadda yadda