Saturday, October 22, 2011

My tea is cold and there's a Beth on my floor

So yesterday, Beth drove down here from Salem to visit me. (I love Beth)
She's currently asleep on my floor, and my tea has gotten cold.

Anyway, let's talk about NaNoWriMo.

For those of you who don't know, NaNoWriMo is the craziest thing ever created that I have personally participated in.
It's a bunch of nerds. On the internet. Writing novels. In a month.
Specifically, the month of November.


I've done it three times, won twice (you win by finishing your novel. Everyone who participates can win, but usually the win rate is at around 25%), and learned a lot of things in the process.

So here's POLLY'S GUIDE TO NOT FAIL AT NANOWRIMO. First of all, let's talk about the three methods of NaNoing that I've witnessed.
  1. When November comes, write. You realize that it's November, and you don't have any idea for a story, and you don't know where things are going, write. If you didn't do any planning, now is not the time. You need to just start writing. Don't worry if it's a good concept or a terrible concept or you don't know your character or what they're going to do...just put your fingers on the keys and write. Eventually, you will find yourself making turns and changes that you had never expected, and the novel will happen.
  2. Well, it's like this, but also like that... You have a vague idea for a plot. "It's about a guy who sends a journal back in time to stop a plague from killing his sister." You don't think it through much more than that. I have used this method for the past two years (my two winning years) and it's nice and easy. Since November has 4 weeks, here's my basic formula:
    Week 1: Establish this character's life as it normally is. Build the world, their job that they hate, their coworkers that like to steal things from them, the magical talking alpaca that lives in their basement, business as normal.

    Week 2: Mess up their life. Their alpaca sends them on a journey for a mystical crystal, their obnoxious coworker sleeps with your character's spouse, and to top it all off, the coffee pot breaks and your character has to go through the whole story WITH NO COFFEE.

    Week 3: The character tries to fix things, but just makes it all worse. They go to Starbucks for coffee and find that they interrupted a counseling session with their spouse, and to top it all off, they broke that mystical crystal and now the universe is going to explode. By the middle of week 3, everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong.

    Week 3.5/4: Fix it. You have written your character into a giant literary hole. Now make it better.
    Most of this you just make up as you go, but you know where the plot is hopefully going to lead you.
  3. The intense outline method. I'm attempting this one for the first time this year. Here's how it works: You download Scrivener (SERIOUSLY YOU CAN'T DO IT WITHOUT SCRIVENER, IT'S AMAZING) and you put every scene into a notecard, figure out how many words you need, and then you can write whatever scene strikes your fancy when it comes time to write. Having never done this before, that's all I can say.

Okay. This got long, so tomorrow will happen my 21 tips to make NaNoWriMo less miserable.

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