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November 1, 2009

Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:34 AM * 134 comments

ItWaADaAStorNi. TheTriOrTreaWeGo. AsMidReaEaTiZo, ComWeTurOn, OutCon, OpSeWri. ChaStiACaToLi, EnWorSpraInEx, AndPloBeToUnLiSaiJuCaTheWi. ItWa, AsTheSa, AGreDiInTheFo.

NaNoWriMoHaBe. HeAThreToTeUsHoItGo. IfYouDoItBe, AdvIsWe. IfYouDoItNow, FeeFreeToPoWoCouATho.


Comments on NaNoWriMoOThread:
#1 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 06:59 AM:

I'm not doing NaNoWriMo. I'm 28K words into the current novel already, and it's not going to stop in 50K, and anyway, I've got two conventions and a CEM to grovel over this month (which kind of gets in the way of accidentally dashing off a long novella).

On the other hand: some SF plots.

Also: 42 essential 3rd act plot twists.

And finally: the Turkey City lexicon.

#2 ::: SylvieG ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 08:00 AM:

My NaNo attempt, 'Shadow Cabinet: A Parliamentary Ghost Story', will have been begun in about half an hour. Yes, 8 hours in and I'm already procrastinating.

#3 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 08:05 AM:

I've decided this is the year. I caught myself going "the only novel idea I have is (blahblahblah), and I can't write that because (variety of excuses)." I'm going to write it anyway.

#4 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 08:07 AM:

422 lousy words in, and I am already hating this book.
Maybe I'll end up like Douglas Adams.

#5 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 08:11 AM:

Wait--outlines? We're supposed to use outlines?!

Heheh. Kidding, of course, even though I never use an outline for NaNo. I write in a much more structured and deliberate manner than I did after my first NaNo got me started off writing again (2002!), but for this month I like having an oportunity to unfurl my subconscious and let it have fun.

I think my brain has gotten used to structure, though. Last night's 1k is disjointed protostory that looks suspiciously like it's trying to be an outline.

#6 ::: Remus Shepherd ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 09:09 AM:

I'm not doing NaNoWriMo -- the last time I did was in 2003, and it ulcerated my hiatal hernia. But at least I finished...

I am, however, starting my next novel today. That lets me pace myself against the NaNo contestants. So post your word counts! They are my personal challenges!

#7 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 09:52 AM:

AnThAlLivHapEvAf. ThEnd.

#8 ::: Joyce Reynolds-Ward ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 10:30 AM:

Not doing NaNo this year, either. I'm already 18,000 words into a novel, and I really need to stop working on it for a while and spend some more time focusing on rewriting a short story that's been marinating so it can go out. And oh yeah, doing research on another novel that I'll probably start once I'm ready (which may happen before the current WIP is finished, because the one I'm researching is more time-dependent for marketing).

#9 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 01:23 PM:

Using it as a kick-start for a project I'm already about 30K into that's been mostly languishing for the duration of the new-house project (now at its 6-month completion anniversary). I'll be only writing on weekdays, though. (So I started Friday. So sue me.)

#10 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 01:33 PM:

May I remind fellow luminaries that the 50,000 words do not have to be a single, complete, work. If Charlie turns out 50,000 words in November, from the middle of a novel, he can claim to be a winner.

Don't look Ethel Charlie!

3195 words.

#11 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 01:41 PM:

I was just going to do it this year as an exercise in forcing myself to write 2,000 words per day to get a nice discount on Scrivener ( My goal was to just write up all the odd ideas I had for silly gags and blog articles into one Scrivener document, more as a typing exercise than anything else.

So tonight, while watching the Rachel Maddow podcast, I started typing up a silly gag where two solid IBM men in blue pinstripe surfing gear learn Extreme Programming by one guy saying "Whoa!" while videotaping another guy typing in COBOL.

And in about an hour I had 3,000 words or so. I was just amazed that 3,000 words was about a screenful of text, wasn't a labour of agony to produce, it didn't require a lot more than the initial idea (plus some google research) and getting the whole thing out of my head and into a document. I thought I'd be like Douglas Adams, just staring at a blank piece of paper (or screen) until my forehead started to bleed.

Of course it needs editing with a flamethrower, but the whole point of NaNoWriMo is that with a grunt, some slight strainage and some roughage, you can get a novel shaped *thing* out. Just wash your hands afterwards.

The fascinating thing (to me) was that I was *really* interested in seeing what happened next to Pinkins and Perkins of Interplanetary[1] Business Machines as they head off for lunch, tired and shagged out after Extreme COBOL programming. I made these guys up as part of a gag, but now, having written them down, I want to know what happens next! Is that normal?

[1] ObSF

#12 ::: K.C. Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 02:03 PM:

I'm already stuck. This is my fifth NaNo but the first time I can't even get started. I had 800 words this morning, but I hate the story already. I'm going to throw out those 800 words and start again--I just don't know what to write about. Nothing appeals.

I suspect the real problem is that I'm currently doing rewrites for a novel I finished very recently. I know I can do the rewrites while also working on another project, but my brain apparently doesn't want to multitask.

#13 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 03:02 PM:

Remus @ #6, you have one sign of success to show for your efforts. You forced me to look up "hiatal."

#14 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 03:45 PM:

IDonUnSta TheWhoPara

#15 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 04:00 PM:


#16 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 04:06 PM:

Erik Nelson @ #14: Italicize, don't underscore statement "Theatric Who Parade?"


#17 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 04:51 PM:

D. Potter at #16:
I was trying to say "I don't understand the whole paragraph," of course.

#18 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 05:11 PM:


If you mouse over each chunk of text, you should get a tooltip translation. (I used the "acronym" tag in HTML, which should work on all browsers.)

#19 ::: Zoanne ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 06:06 PM:

This is good.

In a city of graffiti and dark enchantment, a jailer and a herbologist compete for freedom by manipulating a deranged cockney child. I taking this the right amount of seriously?

#20 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 06:13 PM:


Between the house and actual work, I ain't gonna try NaNoWriMo, again. Maybe next year.

New goal though: get the dining room functional and presentable by Thanksgiving, then have a big Thanksgiving meal in it.

(Then the next goal will be to have the Yellow Room functional and presentable by Christmas and have a honking big Christmas tree in it.)

#21 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 06:19 PM:

I just burped up 2500 more words of "Rule 34" today.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow, The Toymaker gets up to his elbows in gore, and the body count begins to rise ...

#22 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 06:52 PM:

I'm past deadline on my next book, so no rough draft sprint for me.

And for me, 1,700 words a day is still an uncomfortable pace. I waste less work time when I go a little slower. YMMV, naturally.

#23 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 07:29 PM:

MyNoWriDeFoWo* is today, such that I am actively suppressing the part of my brain devoted to [nope, cannot even meta-mention it, nothing to think here, move along]. However, were I to have a novel project- which I must strongly believe that I don't, lest I get distracted--I could come back to this thread later on in the month.

My nonfiction writing deadline for work

#24 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 07:45 PM:

Anybody else who doesn't want to write?

#25 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 07:50 PM:

I'm using NaNoWriMo as an excuse to jump start my next novel. I'm traveling end of the month and fully expect this next book to be pushing 80K, so making the 50K goal seems unlikely but a month's solid work can get me to that sweet spot just past the first act where the Big Picture gets a little more in focus.

As of day 1: 500 words. Looking for 1000 by days end.

#26 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 08:00 PM:

Marilee @ #24 "Anybody else who doesn't want to write?"

I wouldn't know how to start. Also, nothing's ever banged around in my head saying "Write me."

#27 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 08:01 PM:

Michael Roberts, I am in the same boat except our big party was today. Last piece of cleaning included taking a vanload of unwanted stuff to Goodwill.

Party was a smashing success and fun was had by all.

Now for de-cluttering the kitchen and my room/office/workshop. Onward and upward.

#28 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 08:04 PM:

OK, I'm going to let myself be drawn into the whirlpool. Not working on a novel just now, but I had an idea for a short story that's been sitting around. I'm up to 1200 words this afternoon, and now I have to stop to make dinner. Maybe more tonight, certainly more tomorrow.

And when I finish this, maybe I will work on a novel. There's the beginnings of one that's been sitting on my hard drive for more than a year, this might be the excuse I need to get back to it.

#29 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 08:05 PM:

Marilee @ 24 ...
Anybody else who doesn't want to write?

I'd rather write code ... but thus far I've failed to get started each and every code month... (NaNoWriMo equivalent for the geek crowd).

#30 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 08:25 PM:

Linkmeister, it's an interesting experience, for several values of 'interesting' and 'experience'.
I wrote a story to get it out of mine (years ago, and it gets to maybe 8 or 9 on Teresa's slush list), but the characters are still living in the back of my mind. That was long before NaNoWriMo, anyway.

#31 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 08:32 PM:

Find a dumb film, and tell the story of what happens when the characters don't make dumb mistakes.

Or, at least, the dumb mistakes are made because the character knows less than you do. Ot made solemn vows. Or something.

#32 ::: JJR ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 08:39 PM:

2245 words today, including the 600 that I wrote after midnight last night.

It's my first time doing this. I was going around in circles on the complicated novel I was trying to write, so for NaNo I'm working on the very straightforward novel that I've barely started thinking about. So far, so good...

#33 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 09:24 PM:

Antonia Tiger @ #31, now that might be the first question I'd have to ask when pondering a story: "What if?"

#34 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 09:33 PM:

2430 so far today. I'm pretty happy with it.

#35 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 09:47 PM:

I've got about 1300 words of incoherent babble so far, but I never intended this to be a proper story.

#36 ::: Lylassandra ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 10:09 PM:

I'm still debating whether to try it or not. I've never written anything longer than a three- short story series, and the sheer wordcount within the deadline terrifies me.

On the other hand, I will never be a writer if I never write anything, and if it sucks, who will know or care?

#37 ::: Cynthia Wood ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 11:35 PM:

This will be my sixth Nano - five prior attempts, four successful. Unfortunately I have no idea what I'm writing this year, which does not bode well.

#38 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2009, 11:39 PM:

I am doing NaNoWriMo for the very first time. I'm quite excited and I think that it's amazing that all of the great plots and scenes and ideas that come to me all year have seemed to wonder off somewhere. So, I intend to babble for a while until the story imposes itself on me. I'll try that for a little while anyway.

#39 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 12:04 AM:

Ended up with 1200 words for the day and a rough idea of where the first 5K will take me. Mysterious woman+mysterious comet=a promising start.

#40 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 12:10 AM:

I'm not doing NaNoWriMo this year for a variety of reasons. For a start, I figure I'm doing enough word count writing up my resume and looking for work (and if sounding good and positive and upbeat and cheery in ten highly similar letters a day asking for a job isn't writing fiction, I don't know what is!). For seconds, I've tried a couple of times, and I peter out at about the 14 day mark when the inspiration runs out. For thirds, I currently have enough half-completed projects on my hard drive - I don't need to add a new one.

Best of luck to all those people who are participating. May your characters behave, your plots be coherent, and your initial draft be salvageable.

#41 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 12:14 AM:

So if I write a novel about cat vacuuming, it counts, right?

Of course, the cats may feel differently about it.

#42 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 12:35 AM:

Summer Storms @ 41: Especially if they are the ones operating the vacuum cleaner.

#43 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 12:44 AM:

Summer Storms @ 41... cat vacuuming

"In space no one can hear you yowl."

#44 ::: Yatima ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 01:03 AM:

4183. And for once it's coming fairly easily. Maybe I have found my theme (ponies :)

#45 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 01:37 AM:

Marilee #24:
Not a writer either. I find that I'm better as a test-reader. Besides, my yeast-wrangling* day-job is taking up most of my mental real estate at the moment.

*Originally a typo: yeats-wrangling. Subliminal poet-ry?

#46 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 01:46 AM:

Soon Lee @ #45, combining your yeast-wrangling with your subliminal poetry should include Irish soda bread, no?

#47 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 01:55 AM:

I also am a non-writer. (My book ambitions [or at least pipe dreams] involve proofreading.) But writing as a process interests me, and I tend to find writers to be interesting people. Besides, I read everything on Making Light except the "Salwar Kameez" thread.

#48 ::: katster ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 02:59 AM:

So, not only am I doing NaNoWriMo, but I'm an ML, which means I'm the one that gets to herd the various collection of writers within a geographical region by organizing things like write-ins.

It's a lot of fun, actually.

But it leads me to my number one tip that I give my Wrimos every year -- the old-timers recite it with me: "Embrace the suck."

Basically, no matter what you're writing, you're going to have days (or heck, a whole entire month) where you're going to think that you're writing pure unadulterated grade-A crap. In short, you are going to suck. This is okay; instead of fighting the suck, embrace it. Give yourself permission to suck. It's amazing how freeing this can be.

November's my favorite month of the year, just for the camaraderie of knowing there's thousands of other people around the world doing what you're doing -- which is writing, perhaps sucking hard, and still having a good time.

And I have 4158 today. Woohoo. Only 45,842 left. ;)


#49 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 03:08 AM:

I'm afraid that my science fiction writing and most of my artwork are for work, along the lines of "The customer wants the router to do [six impossible things]. They promise they'll get us the requirements by [breakfast, during the French revolution] which they think will give us plenty of time for a [simple matter of programming]. The network looks like [picture of something that is obviously Not A Pipe] but if you include all the requirements they've hinted at it's more like [video clip of Cliff Stoll's Klein bottle wine bottle from the recent Ted talk] and the equipment manufacturer says it'll work Just Fine because they're already building in non-Euclidean network topologies for a customer in R'lyeh that should be released Real Soon Now."
(And I really should be leaving fiction that involves information technology departments and tentacles to Charlie...)

#50 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 04:26 AM:

I am FiDaNoing.

Finish the Damn Novelling, to be clear.

Like others here, I'm mid-project, and don't wanna be derailed. But I figure I'll post word counts so I can hang with the cool kids.

1250 words today. :)

#51 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 07:12 AM:

I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, but I plan to write every day, and to go through all the half-full notebooks scattered around the apartment, culling ideas and putting them on disk. I've also got another, more personal writing project that I want to start, and a goal of writing something of moderate substance online at least twenty-five days this month.

I wish all of us luck, and success, whatever we're writing.

#52 ::: thanate ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 07:54 AM:

2.5K from last night, which is just on track, since I've experimentally set this year's goal at 75K, with a second novel to turn to if I run out of the first one. (This is my 5th year of doing this; it *ought* to be possible...)

My husband has kindly agreed to put up with a Nanoe'en party next year, with a costume theme of authors and literary characters, and laptops that come out at midnight.

Time to turn the internet back off again and find a less distracting place to go write more.

#53 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 07:55 AM:

I was going to try to start something new, but the beginning of the sequel to the NaNo I wrote last year (which has now been waiting for me to edit it for...oh yes, that would be one year) keeps popping up in my head.

So I guess I'll do that.

415 words, but I sit down to start properly tonight.

#54 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 08:09 AM:

Nuh-huh. Staying away from NaNoWriMo. There's enough external stuff happening that devoting all spare time for a month towards writing is NOT on the table.

Maybe next year, when I shall hopefully be embedded in a new country. Unless of course the next novel-sized chunk of words decide it wants to be written earlier (there is a VERY tentative beginning (the bastard off-spring of the first chunk of words), but I am waiting for a suitable plot to congeal).

#55 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 09:29 AM:

What's more difficult -- writing 50,000 words of 'suck' or 9,000 words of clean, coherent, tangible story?

300 good words a day, every day, will produce two novels a year.

#56 ::: katster ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 10:16 AM:

DanR @ #55:

I suppose the answer to that depends on where you are on the writing curve. I seem to recall Scalzi saying something along the lines of needing to write approximately a million words of prose before you're going to approach somewhat good.

NaNoWriMo is insanity, and most of what is produced during the month will assuredly be Not Good, but it's a start. And I'm surprised, going back to prior years, that there's some stuff that's salvageable -- perhaps even good -- in those drafts. Nine thousand words of good might be pushing it, especially with early attempts, but it's entirely possible you could do that.

The point about 'embracing the suck' is to give yourself permission to write something that might not be clean and shiny prose on the first try. I know I have problems with that. I found that if I give myself permission to suck, though, then (1) the bad parts aren't making me wince quite so hard and then giving up in frustration and (2) I might actually write some of that clean coherent tangible story.

Also, there's something to be said about the whole point of stopping the 'someday, I'm going to write a novel' bit and actually sitting down and writing it, even if it's within the framework of this crazy challenge.

NaNoWriMo isn't going to work for everybody. I understand that. For some folks, it seems like an utter waste of time and I can respect that opinion. However, it works for me, if for no other reason than it gets my brain past the thoughts of 'it all sucks, i'm such a talentless hack, nobody will ever read this self-indulgent elephant dung' and into actually writing.

Perhaps if I can't get past that idea that it's going to be bad, then I shouldn't be writing. But if writing's a learned skill, then the first attempts are going to be bad. Nobody becomes a concert pianist overnight, right?

So in answer to your question, I suppose I've just spent several paragraphs saying 'it depends'.

#57 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 10:32 AM:

I'm not NaNoIng this year. I have a couple of very major photographic projects due in a couple of weeks and barely time to think of anything else. There is a project I really want to write. I'm not sure if it's a serious novel or a silly bit of fluff yet but I am looking forward to finding out. Maybe next year.

One bit of advice for new NaNoers: If you're not used to typing a lot every day, look out for your wrists. My first NaNo attempt collapsed in a painful heap after nearly 20,000 words when my wrists began to hurt whenever I wrote. I use a keyboard a bit every day at work and home but never as intensely as those days of about 1800 words each. Since then I have adopted a very comfortable gel-filled wrist rest and the only pain I get from writing a lot is in my head when the urge to procrastinate bumps into the desire not to piss off editors.

It's probably too late to change your writing habits for this NaNoWriMo but, if you're a Mac user, I definitely recommend Scrivener. It has bells, it has whistles and it gets them out of the way when you want it to. I find that the way it ties the planning and organising bits together with the actual writing bits allows me to skip back and forth between parts of the project and work around pieces that aren't coming together yet. I can keep putting words on disc when a more linear approach would leave me stuck waiting for ideas to gel or for the right words to... something.

#58 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 10:51 AM:

DanR: I have a lot of problems with your question because of the assumptions it seems to be built on.

First, I see an implication that people participating in NaNo are writing totally unusable nonsense. Some might, and that's their problem; some do it purely for fun and don't care if the world at large thinks the result is drivel; and some take it as a challenge to pit their already established skills against.

Second, the implication that one should just 'write things right the first time'. For most people, this does not work. This is why we have concepts like revision and rewriting, because most people don't write things just right the first time.

Third, the implication that a little bit of story correct-as-it-comes-out, no matter how slowly it comes out, is better than a lot of story one has to revise. I know for me it certainly is not. I don't mind and even expect to have to write a lot to explore the concepts and emotions I want to convey, then distill what I write into a final version. Nothing is ever wasted; I usually come up with many related things that fit into the story elsewhere through those explorations, things that wouldn't have come up if I'd focused on writing Pure and Perfect Prose.

Besides, as Katster implied, practice makes perfect, or at least good.

#59 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 11:06 AM:

So, does it count if my NaNoWriMo consists entirely of cat* vacuuming?


*Well, guinea pig, if one wants to be precise.

#60 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 11:55 AM:

I tried NaNo last year and gave up in frustration by the second day, when it took me three hours of teeth-pulling to produce 1000 words of the most terrible, stupid, boring, banal crap ever set to paper. What I should've done was get back on the horse even if I had to write "I suck, this sucks, I can't write, I am a total and complete epic failure at life, the universe, and everything" for 1667 words, but instead I switched to other things.

This year it's going to be NaPreWriMo, because I have to finish my prelim yesterday. In fact I had best email the one section I have drafted to my advisor now.

#61 ::: Micah ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 12:18 PM:

I meant to finish revising a novel before November rolled around, but I kept getting distracted and doing other things instead, so I'm only half-way through revising it. Procrastination leads to procrastination leads to procrastination leads to cake. I may start writing a new novel late into the month and just try to push for 50k anyways.

#62 ::: Paul M ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 12:39 PM:

Bill @49 - nice. May I copy that and send it over to our network support staff?

#63 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 01:48 PM:

... And I just had a 3200 word day.

(But I'm about to stop. Off to Oslo on Thursday for the Oslo SF Festival. Home on Monday evening, then off by car to Novacon in Nottingham the following Thursday morning, and not home until the Tuesday after that. I've basically got two working days available in the next two weeks; experience shows there's no point even trying until I've got enough of a clear run to make some headway.)

#64 ::: pixelfish ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 01:59 PM:

I can't help thinking that for structural reasons, it's easier if the first draft is sprawling and massive and full of extraneous stuff. Because somewhere in that is the story, and you have to pare down the fat. But if your first draft is 9000 words that are polished to within an inch of your life, where is the room to trim? If everything is tightly knit, it's harder to rearrange bits of the story to make it stronger.

For me too, I like having room to get a proper run up. The first couple thou words tend to be my weakest, because I'm feeling my way. Once I get a sort of mental rhythm going, the subsequent words tend to flow better. If I'm trying to polish from the start, this rhythm never has a chance to build. I have constipated writing.

Of course, that's just me. Every writer makes their own process. But I suspect the wiggle room is good for lots of folks.

(Or for another whacky analogy, it's like if you're putting the IKEA furniture together and you tighten ALL THE BOLTS the instant they go in, instead of waiting til the whole thing is put together. I did that once and kept having to backtrack like crazy. Better to allow some wiggle room.)

#65 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 02:07 PM:

I have tried NaNoWriMo a couple of times and never gotten very far. (I have, by the way, completed manuscripts of two unpublished/unpublishable novels in the past, so it's not just the length that's an issue.) It's my intent to try again this year. I haven't actually started yet, having had trouble deciding between two or three possible projects, but in the interest of breaking the logjam and getting words on paper, I have picked one and am about to Go Forth and Commit Novel.

#66 ::: Kelley Wegeng ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 02:44 PM:

I have no word count from yesterday to post. This is because I have subscribed to the Neil Gaiman school of writing, as I have imagined it, which involves writing first drafts illegible to all but myself. I will, of course, do a first-pass edit as I type it all in (and I type exceedingly quickly, so this shouldn't be difficult). I have a very tall (14" maybe) not-quite-college-ruled notebook in which I am scrawling, writing only on one side of the page and double-spacing.

So far I am somewhere in the middle of page 8, which I guestimate to be just 1,000 words based upon my first page's count. That's not going to get me to 50,000 very well. That said, if it turns out to be just 30,000 words, but is a readable novel by the end of the month, I'll take it. It's also of note that I did the entirety of it while sitting at an Old Chicago watching the Vikings game, eating pizza, and drinking beer, so I suspect I can do better when properly focused.

What I'm most excited about is the way the story is taking shape. Sometime just after midnight on Saturday I was telling my friend Kate what I was writing and what I told her is different than what I was thinking the day prior, and what I could tell you today is different than that which I envisioned when I put down my pen yesterday. The pretext is the same, but the details and motivations are filling in nicely.

The sad thing about it though, is that it's a Really Good Idea - not necessarily for a book, but in terms of concepts. And by Really Good, I mean, my characters are grappling with something that is Really Scary (in the "Wow, I hope that the DHS has thought of this" sort of way). I didn't mean for it to work out that way but it's coming out thus, and it would be a real shame if I end up with a finished manuscript that I can't in good faith do anything with at the end of the month.

#67 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 02:58 PM:

This is my first NaNoWriMo, and I'm already having a nervous breakdown -- 1382 words. Tonight, Ghu only knows. Throwing words on s sheet and not going back and agonizing over them... the strain might kill me.

#68 ::: thanate ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 03:35 PM:

Emma @ 67 Agonizing is for December, when you can take all month to do it (possibly with time off for the holidays.)

I also disagree with DanR's assumptions of 55; I don't find that my writing process as such changes much during November, but I am a firm believer in NaNo because I am bad at self motivation, and the competitive aspect actually gets me to sit down and be consistently productive for one month out of the twelve.

#69 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 03:37 PM:

Paul@62 - sure, take it if you like it, no need for attribution.

And my cat vacuuming this month isn't vacuuming the cats themselves (fat chance of that, though one cat will put up with brushing), but I do need to vacuum up the spare fur from the rugs and couch again.

#70 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 04:07 PM:

Running total, 5163, which is a bit of a slowdown but it has been a distracting day.

Yes, better to write too much, and edit at leisure. And I get the chance to drop a few names in to suggest something about the character's past.

We've had the first flash of violence. Schoolboys of England 1, Secret Police nil.

#71 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 06:01 PM:

If "they" want me to do NaNoWriMo, they'll have to hold it during a month less inherently crazy than November. I am, however, inspired to follow the IWriSloMo program and self-commit myself to writing something on my novel every day. Word counts will not be posted, although binary success may be tracked.

#72 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 08:46 PM:

#64 ::: pixelfish: You said what I was trying to say much better than I did. Wiggle room, yes. I need lots of wiggle room to get stories figured out.

#66 ::: Kelley: Why couldn't you do anything with it at the end of the month? If it's fanfiction I understand, but otherwise...?

#67 ::: Emma: It's good for you, really! Er, not the agonizing, the not having time to agonize. Or at least I think so.

#71 ::: Heather Rose Jones: I recall the guy that started NaNo stating that he specifically planned it for a really busy month. For me it drove home emotionally the importance of making time for my writing regardless of my circumstances, if I really wanted to write. With my lifelong case of lastminuteitis, it was a lesson I badly needed (and it only took three years' worth of NaNoWriMos for it to really sink in!).

It's not a lesson everyone needs, or has to learn in such a harsh way, of course.

(The first and most important lesson I got from doing NaNoWriMo, though, was that to write a novel... you sit down and write the damned thing. Yes, I got to age 23 without having figured this out for myself, despite being a voracious reader, daydreamer, and maker-up-of-things since age 3. It never clicked until I had something telling me to just WRITE a really long thing. So I tried it, and partway through the lightbulb went on.)

End of day 2 for me, and 3607 words total on The Tower of Dreams and Desires, which includes bits of protostory as well as a paragraph long chunk of notes. The rest is comfortably story shaped.

#73 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 09:11 PM:

I'm not doing NaNoWriMo per se, though I'm thinking I'll try to finish one of my unfinished novellas or novels by the end of November, and try to stay in the habit of writing something, even if only a few lines, every day.

In October I did LoCoWriMo along with a few other conlangers. I managed to meet my page count goal for the month, although the story is nowhere near finished. This is the first time I've worked with this kind of deadline/goal, in any language, and I found myself several times writing uneventful day-in-the-life-of-my-characters stuff because I wasn't sure what should be happening next in terms of actual plot but wanted to get my two pages down for the day.

#74 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 09:52 PM:

#s 57, 58, 66, 68:

I think I might have doused my question in too much perfume (see, I couldn't even get 20 proper words out...)

We all know the answer, anyway -- anyone who has struggled with the question of whether to attempt a masterpiece or a parking garage has always come up with the same answer. Painting a parking garage would be more difficult.

I, too, have tried the Neil Gaiman method of writing, only I took it one step further: my first draft was illegible to everyone including myself. I wisely decided to leave it unedited. It was a masterpiece just as it stood, and one that will doubtless leave its impression in the annals of time, when it is finally decoded.

Maybe I should repackage the question - the Hemingway approach, which is to write 400 new words per day, *and* rewrite the previous 3,000, is more of a woodchipper's technique. Someone who works all year at writing, and who can stand in the same field for hours on end, waiting for something to pop up from the bushes, will doubtlessly kill it this way. Constrastingly, the Kerouac method, free and wild, never looking back, can often make the words catch fire (think of Fast Eddie Felson, on a run, loose and easy...), and is better suited, methinks, for the adventure story.

Which leads to my answer - it's impossible to write 50,000 words of suck. Even Warhol knew that.

#75 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2009, 10:46 PM:

I am just going to have a PerPoWriMin every now and then. (a personal poetry writing minute) It takes less time.

#76 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 02:53 AM:

It is turning into a story full of unconventional relationships. Well, it is a follow-up to last year, and I suppose going on a date and being pursued by ninja clowns tends to work against being conventional.

#77 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 03:41 AM:

I'm not going to attempt NaNoWriMo.

Instead, I'm going to try to translate a novel in a month. From Hungarian.

And I'm going to spend the first two days travelling, with my best dictionary and the Internet inaccessible, which ensures I'll get off to a slow start. (Five pages read, none translated, dozens of sentences already defeating me.)

And by "going to spend", I mean "spent", showing that too much exposure to Hungarian has already eroded my ability to use tenses.

#78 ::: SylvieG ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 06:24 AM:

Well, 3600 words in and I've already got more of a story than in last year's entire novel. (I gave up half-way through when, after 25000 words, none of my characters had actually *done* anything.)

#79 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 10:56 AM:

7229 words, and possibly a few more hours of writing today. My average is slipping.

For your delight (Who am I kidding?)

It was the early season. There were Euro tourists who came early and left late,and who were mostly regarded as decent people. They had some commitment to the place. There were artists who wanted to catch the spring, and entertainers booked for the Casino, and all the diplomats and engineers and pilots. And Dr.Meffit, of course, who presided over the ever so delicate fleecing of the guests, for the benefit of the Hospitals Fund.

Last year's dance had paid for an ambulance launch, built in Louisiana, that could safely run up onto a rock-strewn beach,or even, if the tide was right, scrape over the top of the reef without losing screws or rudders.

It didn't matter to the tourists that the Rain Island Army Union had looked very closely at the launch, and a rather well-known bear had been a passenger on the trials.

This year, they were paying for a schoolroom and attached library, so that the local Doctors and other medical staff—not just the nurses the average Euro thought of, but what some might wrongly call “witch doctors”—could keep their skills up to date.

It so happened that the Naval Base was hosting some eminent surgeons, and of course they were there. Two of the visiting surgeons were from the USA, and it was better for all concerned that they didn't go home with a Rain Island stamp on their passports.

There is never a good day for being in a 'plane crash,but this was a better time and place than most.

Lady Helen would have happily taken her dancing slippers off and walked back to the Donzerly Light, but Charlie, perhaps with a little too much concern for appearances, had told her he was going to get a ricksha. And he would, too. It wasn't just the knack he had, or the cheerful disdain for convention with which he could put two fingers in his mouth and whistle, like a schoolboy. He had a reputation, and after what Charlie had done, and risked, it was good joss to give him good service.

It didn't hurt that he was also damn good at his Embassy job.

So she'd queued for her coat, which was a lightweight pilot's jacket and not at all fashionable, unlike her gown. That jacket, she was sure, would startle some of the tourists. It wasn't what she'd wear in an open cockpit, not warm enough, but it marked her as a pilot, and a local one. The Thunderbird painted across the back was fresher paint, but it had the craquelure of a pilot's jacket, and the bends and twists and stretches of aviation.

Her handbag was also unfashionable, a little large, and if anyone had offered to pick it up they would have had reason to remark on the weight. The weight made it a good club, but that wasn't why it was heavy.

It all took time, and she did not hurry. There was, as Charlie well-knew, a proper way to do such things. Lady Marchmain, the young Lady Marchmain, that is, was telling her she really ought to marry Charlie.

“We're none of us bright young people any more.”

“Was I ever?”

Lady Marchmain thought for a moment. “I don't really remember. Too much cocaine, perhaps. But you're still wearing that jacket that got you into Oswald's motion picture.”

“It was the leather trousers,” countered Lady Helen.

“Oh, yes, those as well.” She paused. “You can't get into them any more, I expect.”

I can, was Helen's silent answer. And you haven't put on much weight, but I'm not going to embarrass you.

“Anyway, marry him, m'dear.”

“Don't need to.”

“I know. You'd have to be a fool not to realise that. But think of your family, and the lawyers. You're not in the line, but if Cedric doesn't marry, a son of yours could inherit.”

“He might marry.”

“Oink, flap, my dear. As you very well know.”

Helen nodded. “Agatha married.” She'd been a friend of Agatha. A special friend.

“She'd get a divorce if she could.”


“Agatha is a very unusual Conservative, and of course he's an MP now, and really can't get divorced.”

Helen had heard rumours about some things that happened on the Spontoons. Accidents happened to tourists, but the Spontoonies cheerfully lied away the shame back home. She rather thought they might arrange something for Agatha.

“I shall have to write to her.”

“Yes. Anyway, I'd would simply love to see Cedric's face when you marry Charlie, and he finds out.”

“Wouldn't it be divine,” agreed Helen. She hesitated. “You're right, it does matter, back in England.”

“But not here?”

Helen touched her jacket. “People here know me for what I am, not for who my father or husband are.”

“Your father, and Charlie, they're not bad markers.”

“No, they're not.” They walked out of the doorway, the uniformed commissaire saluting as they passed.

“Hullo, what's going on?”

“Feels like trouble,” said Helen, releasing the clasp on her purse. “Bad trouble.”

Lady Marchmain knew something was wrong, but there was a certainty in Lady Helen's movements that startled her, a sudden shift in the style of how she moved. It was, though she didn't label it that way, the change that came over Helen as she switched from socialite to aviator, and the frivolous delight sloughed away. Lady Marchmain watched Helen part the crowd, and there was no delicacy in that.

Lady Helen wasn't quite Lady Helen any more, not when she sensed the eagerness with which the crowd moved aside. Maybe they had been waiting for somebody who would take action. Maybe they just wanted the excuse to be somewhere else. And maybe she ought to have been more subtle.

Five men, all dressed Euro style. No, six, and a seventh huddled on the ground. And the one facing the crowd, daring them to interfere, was carrying a strange-looking gun. Not a Thompson, but it had the feel of that sort of gun. It was more pragmatic—why use wood when you can easily bend and weld steel in a factory—and it had an ugliness drawn from efficiency and purpose. And she knew why it was there and being displayed in the way it was.

She was watching brutal, painful, cruel, murder, and being dared to do anything. Charlie would have done something—she didn't waste time wondering where he was—and so could she. She had plenty of time before that gun could point in her direction. All the time in the world...

#80 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 11:29 AM:


#81 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 02:25 PM:

Total at end of day, I want to let the next bit stew in my fevered mind, 8258 words.

#82 ::: Kelley Wegeng ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 02:50 PM:

@#72 Renatus - My problem is that I quite accidentally stumbled onto what would actually be a very good terrorist plot. I thought at first I was writing a novel about a natural disaster but then I made some connections and suddenly found a teenager at a madrasa deciding to study geology....

#83 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2009, 07:57 PM:

Of course, as soon as I got started writing, I came down with some sort of bug, complete with headaches and sore muscles, and got nothing written yesterday. But it seems to be getting better today, and I've managed to write 500 words this afternoon. Not great, but better than nothing. And I think I've finally figured The Kid out, and I understand what his strange power is.

#84 ::: Shalanna Collins ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2009, 06:08 AM:

What's wrong with me? I'm just the opposite of everyone else:
>you're going to have days (or heck, a whole entire month) where you're going to think that you're writing pure unadulterated grade-A crap.

#85 ::: Shalanna Collins ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2009, 06:10 AM:

What's wrong with me? I'm just the opposite of everyone else:
"'re going to have days (or heck, a whole entire month) where you're going to think that you're writing pure unadulterated grade-A crap."

I never think this, despite the obvious indications that what I write DOES appear to most people, including all agents, as pure crap. I always think, "Well, that's pretty good . . . I got off some interesting scene happenings right there . . . heh, heh, I like that turn of phrase . . . yeah, this is something *I* would like to read. It's funny, and it flows. I need to know how this turns out!"

Is this a basic flaw? OR are you all lying to make yourselves appear more humble and worthy ("We know it's all dreck," as you dig your toes into the dirt, while knowing that the Humble Act will make others say, "Oh, no, it's really good, and I like it!" whether they do or not)? **GRIN** I mean . . . there is obviously some logical disconnect between the way *I* perceive my finished work (not to mention works in progress) as something with potential, and the way that the market sees it (something that won't sell, that cannot possibly break out in this market, that is Not Right For Us, that somehow stinks although I can't perceive this.) I believe that a writer has to like what he/she writes or there's no point in doing the stuff, after all--if you are not for yourself, who will be? If not now, when? *ahem* Um. Sorry about that.

But really, something has to be wacky about my sheer idiocy in believing that even my first drafts don't "suck" or "stink." I continue to console myself with quotations from various editors and experts who've held workshops at which they've told me various encouraging things ("You have what we can't teach," at VP, and "Your voice is charming and fresh," from an agent's assistant who took one of my books to her boss and was soundly slapped down with "that is destined for midlist hell"). Even though these were one-time things that people only said about specific writings, I still call on the feelings of hope that they evoked. Perhaps I shouldn't. Perhaps I could see my work through a more objective lens. And perhaps that would finally give me the wake-up call that I need so that I could spend my time doing something fruitful, rather than wasting so many hours in this crazy writing-what-will-never-sell scheme.

Or maybe y'all should be more positive and confident. Not that you shouldn't go back and revise and polish the work. But just that you shouldn't say, even silently, "This is worthless dreck." Because, frankly, it is not. I don't care how bad it is--it ain't dreck nohow. It came out of your creative mind. It is worthy, even if it will never appeal to someone/anyone else.

Isn't this how we should be feeling about our own work? Or do I need therapy? (Probably.)

At any rate. I always enjoy NaNo because it gives me an excuse to do what I will end up doing anyway--starting a new book that has absolutely no chance of doing more than decorate a few sectors of my hard drive, and spending a lot of time chuckling and crying because of the antics of the characters who walk onto my mental stage. Now when people ask, "Why the frotz are you wasting time on that, at your age, when you should be doing X and Y and other useful stuff?" I can reply, "I'm doing NaNo, along with a good number of others across the world. I get a lot out of it, including camaraderie and new acquaintances whom I meet at write-ins around town." And that helps me not feel so guilty.

This year, I also discovered Smashwords (an e-book site) through their NaNoWriMo offer. I've put my NaNo novel on their site already, along with my chick lit novel that got all the "I loved this and laughed aloud, but chick lit is dead, so with regret we set it on fire and chucked it into the river, where it might find cleansing and release" rejections over the past few years. (Because SOME people still like chick lit, even if it's paranormal/fantasy like mine--I've already had several downloads of that book, amazingly enough, and I only wish I knew who those readers were so I could hear what they think, even if it's bad.) So that's another benefit of doing NaNo! A creative outlet for those of us who have begun to accept that we will never be good enough to make the grade, but who can't quite let go of the notion that our work must be good for something. A creative outlet is always a good thing!

And PLEASE don't call your work "dreck," even if it isn't ready for prime time. Seriously.

Please feel free to add ShalannaCollins to your buddy list, if you are doing NaNo.

#86 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2009, 11:09 AM:

Shalanna Collins @85:

I've had several people, including some who aren't kin to me or close friends, make favorable comments on some of my stories; so I know I'm doing something right at least some of the time even though most or all of what I'm writing isn't quite salable to paying markets yet. But I still have days, sometimes more days than not, when I feel like what I'm writing isn't working, that it's going to need major rewrites before it's worth showing to beta readers if it's salvageable at all. That correlates fairly strongly with times when I find writing difficult, more of a chore than enjoyable; but I don't know if it correlates in any objective way to how good the writing actually is. And there are also times when I write easily and enjoy the writing, but later re-read what I've written and decide that it's nowhere near good enough to submit to a paying market or even show to a beta reader. Again, I don't have a way of knowing if that feeling correlates strongly to how other people would think of it; I don't send something to a friend to beta-read until it's already in second or third draft, as good as I can make it without having some feedback.

"Dreck" is not in the productive part of my vocabulary, so I don't describe my worst writing in that term, but the term "worthless" doesn't seem inappropriate for some of it, if it's regarded as a product and not as part of a process. That is, some of the stuff I've written is bad enough that seems to probably be neither worth someone else's time to read, nor my own time to revise; the only value it had, if any, was in the process of writing it, if that practice made me better at some aspect of writing, or if I got enjoyment from writing it, or both. That is, the process of writing it may have had worth, but the product of writing is as far as I can tell worthless.

The worst samples of my writing in gjâ-zym-byn are potentially valuable for documenting the development of the language, even if of zero literary worth; but I doubt my worst writing in English has any significant value of that kind.

#87 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2009, 05:22 PM:

The big thing I learned last year was that I'm not a dreadful writer, even in the bad bits. There are sections of the text which aren't as good, but they suffice to bridge a gap. I have, perhaps, been too self-critical in the past. And that helped me get quite a few bits of stuff done since. It's a question of confidence.

The word count matters most, but I managed to write a story which held together, and reached a conclusion.

I'm not quite trying to do the same this year. I do want to get somewhere, but I'm hoping to get enough laid out, pin down the characters, to develop into more than one story. Think of a Hary Turtledove alternate history, with far too many characters. You can split it up, and have the essentials of several different stories laid out.

Oh, before I forget: running total 10122 words. It hasn't been a good day, but I'm satisfied to reach the landmark.

#88 ::: JJR ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2009, 06:04 PM:

What I'm starting to figure out both from NaNoWriMo (I'm at 7188 words so far, on day 4) and other stuff I try to write, is how very different a novel looks when it's being written from when it's being read. When you're reading a novel, everything just flows by, the details building up, hinting at what will happen next, but you don't know what will happen next until it actually happens. It is gratifying to wonder what is going to happen. The hints are foreshadowings are fun. When the Big Event happens, it's a satisfying resolution.

When you are writing a novel, you know what's going to happen (roughly, at least), and you have to build up the path it takes to get there. The details feel tedious. It feels like an accounting project: making sure all the details get taken care of that will make the Big Event make sense. You have to come up with more and more new ways to indicate "and then". You look forward to getting to the part where something happens, but even that is only a stepping stone to something else happening. In short, writing is work.

Of course this should be obvious, yet for some reason it wasn't obvious to me. But I think where I've gone wrong in the past in my approach to trying to write was to assume that writing a story would basically be like reading one. Each sentence would beget another sentence, like dominoes falling, and before I knew it, I would have written something good. Sometimes it is like that, but not very often. So when I would sit down to write and not have the feeling of reading a good story, I would of course think I was writing junk, get discouraged, and stop. Now that I'm thinking of it as work (fun because it's intricate and challenging), it's going much better.

#89 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2009, 08:51 PM:

Not necessarily intended for NaNoWriMo or including vacuum cleaners, but it's in the right sort of space. Today's Two Lumps 2009/11/04.

#90 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2009, 12:13 PM:

Quote of the day: When Lady Carol walked in, all red fur and black leather, it was generally reckoned to be the first time anyone had seen Charlie Bellman drop his pipe and not start shooting his pistol. This was, of course, an exaggeration. Sometimes he had used a knife.

This is 1937. Lady Carol is the widow of the Duke of Stepney, and Charlie Bellman's step-mother-in-law.

#91 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2009, 04:40 PM:

13600 words and still writing this evening. I'll stop at the viewpoint break, and I don't think this last section is all that good. But words are words.

#92 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2009, 07:37 AM:

An amusing web gizmo to provide some encouragement, and I don't see it posted yet:

Write Or Die!

#93 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2009, 06:22 PM:

15746 words at the end of the first week, some of them a bit dire. On the other hand, Charlie has just discovered that the Holy Office are sending an investigator. And I have slipped in the obligatory Spanish Inquisition reference: an explanation of just why nobody should expect the Spanish Inquisition.

And over on the other side of the world, Alberto Gonzales, anarchist and Catholic, is in Spain. A sort of a cross between Tom Wintringham and David Stirling.

#94 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2009, 07:45 AM:

4200 words added in the last few days to a novel I started just over two years ago. It was 55500 words so far when I last worked on it a month ago. I'm reasonably sanguine about bringing it to a halfway decent ending by the end of the month, though it's going to require major restructuring in the second draft; I kept changing my mind about the villain's identity, motivations, and methods for the first few thousand words, and there are many inconsistencies to be fixed.

#95 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2009, 01:02 PM:

Running total: 18914 words.

It has been a good day. Good days and bad, I'm headed for 21 days for 50000 words.

Some of them might be good.

A chunk of this chapter needs a Morricone soundtrack.

#96 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2009, 01:24 PM:

4300 words since Oct 30 on my formerly-languishing thing. I keep having to make serious efforts to make my characters keep talking past each other, for otherwise the whole thing could be wrapped up in another 5K or less--not the best idea.

So far I've had to look up the requirements for an American and an Englishman to get married in Italy in 1907, and the history of engagement rings. Next, I'm after Marinetti the Futurist.

#97 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2009, 05:51 PM:

I'm currently at 11,667, being a bit behind because of the sudden onset of a fever last night. (It's gone now). The story is galloping right on ahead--not only is not all well in the Tower, but the Swordchildren are suspecting their secret duty is a farce, and they're very near to learning that their guardians may be more helpless to combat the nightmares than the Swordchildren themselves are.

#98 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2009, 05:49 PM:

It would be a rare November that I did not stumble across at least one Internet know-it-all who proclaims, with great smug cynicism, that NaNoWriMo is a waste of time and a bad idea and that it's helping fill the world with dreck and that no one who needs a big event like this in order to get motivated is a *real* writer and why would you encourage people to write suckiness anyway?

(Not talking about DanR. Talking more about stuff like this, in which the critic considers NaNoWriMo something people should be embarrassed to encourage, and something which she hopes will die out in the near future. Have not seen a juicy example of it this year yet, but November is long and only just begun.)

I think the phenomenon is similar to that which drives people to react to online conversations which they think are boring or a waste of time, not by moving on to conversations they'd rather have, but by joining the conversation in order to diss the people having the conversation. I don't get that phenomenon, and I don't get the need some people have to go beyond "Nanowrimo? Not for me" to "Nanowrimo stinks and the people doing it should be ashamed". But I do think the impulses are related.

ANYWAY, yes, I'm doing it. For the 8th year. Also carrying the role of Boulder Municipal Liaison for the 6th year running. (Jacque, if you are doing it, why have I not seen you at a write-in yet? Come on out! We don't bite!)

I think giving myself permission to write utter babble allows me to go to the places where I find out stuff I never would have otherwise. For me, the rough draft is about exploration. There are story ideas and characters waiting in the places I can only get to by writing my way into them. I see a large part of my job, as ML, to be an advocate for this sort of writing-as-exploration. Also to encourage those who want to do it, but don't think they can do 50,000 words of it, and so might elect not to do it at all. NaNoWriMo is about community and support and challengers and being given the permission to spend a huge chunk of November doing something that an alarming portion of the population thinks is a selfish luxury ("If you're not busy, would you--" "I'm writing." "So you're not busy, then?"). Meeting the 50,000-word challenge is awesome, but going from wish-I-had-time-to-write to I'm-writing!-I'm-a-writer! is awesomer still.

Proud to be a part of it. If anyone wants to buddy me, I'm "vortexae".

#99 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2009, 06:05 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @98:

…I don't get the need some people have to go beyond "Nanowrimo? Not for me" to "Nanowrimo stinks and the people doing it should be ashamed".
People like that sorely need an encounter with the cluebat of It's not all about you!

#100 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2009, 04:14 AM:

Monday was a 2500-word day, but I only got about half that logged on the website, because it stopped updating.

Nicola, when you come across somebody like that, tell them that they have a good name for a character.

#101 ::: Antonia T Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2009, 12:54 PM:

A couple of thousand words genuinely today, so far.

23616 running total.

Check for "Antonia_Tiger" if you want a writing buddy, waybe us Making Light types should be in better contact.

(I know have two couples each split by some 85 degrees of longitude, a Prince delivered to his family, and assorted villainous types udentified. Time to bring in the ninja?)

#102 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2009, 03:36 PM:

I've now cleared 25,000 words in 10 days.

I beginng to see what so many mega-novels are multi-threaded. When you hit a sticky patch on one thread, switch to something else. I wonder how many have the published thread-switches set up rather differently to the writing sequence.

#103 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2009, 05:40 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @98: Jacque, if you are doing it, why have I not seen you at a write-in yet? Come on out!

Huh, who, wha...? Oh, drat. And here I'd successfully talked myself out of it. (Got three plausible art projects in the fire, uh, new gp babies on the way meaning need to build a new house and, uh, just got my new Mac and have to set it up. Uh, yeah, right, that's it.) Okay, so when/where is dis write-in of which you speaks?

We don't bite! Not even with appropriate bait? (Mwa-ha.)

"If you're not busy, would you--" "I'm writing."

Suggestion: try "I'm working." Then, invoke Miss Manners and refuse to elaborate.

Just tried to "buddy" you on NaNu NaNu,* but the link isn't working. (Did somebody say upthread that the site is broken?)

Antonia T. Tiger @100: Nicole, when you come across somebody like that, tell them that they have a good name for a character.

An evil character. Of particularly loathsome personal habits.

*sorry, couldn't resist.

#104 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2009, 12:28 AM:

Around 2800 words today, and about 6000 words since I last posted in this thread on Sunday.

Nicole @98: Most of Molly Case's comments on NaNoWriMo are beside the point, but from what I've heard in various other places, I suspect that this:

There is no market for 50,000 word novels. No real publisher will look at a novel that short, but it is too long to be published as a novella. It is pretty much the most useless length of story someone could train themselves to tell.

may not be entirely wrong; at least I have the impression that the 30k to 60k word range is hard for a new writer with no track record to sell in, most first magazine fiction sales being short stories or occasionally novelettes, and most first novels being rather longer than the NaNoWriMo 50k. Nearly all the novellas I see in the digest magazines, and the novellas and short novels published in book form by small presses (more rarely by major publishers), seem to be by more experienced writers who've already built an audience with shorter or longer work. Would Teresa or Patrick or any of the other publishing professionals care to comment on this?

#105 ::: Antonia T Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2009, 02:54 AM:

There was some maintenance downtime announced for the NoNoWriMo site yesterday.

NoNoWriMo "buddying": put the name you've been given into the Search page on the site.

I have heard of several fannish types who are at about the half-way stage.

#106 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2009, 11:03 AM:

I've reached the daily target, just short of 1700 words, which is the average for 50,000 words in 30 days. Where I am, I only need to average 1250 words, but I want to do better than that.

Anyway, one of the bigger personal secrets has been tumbled out before the reader.

#107 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2009, 11:13 AM:

From what I understand, 50K is just dandy for a YA novel (Harry Potter et al notwithstanding).

However, my main reaction to Molly Case's 50K objection is, "So what? You think that the novel is sealed in stone on December 1? Let me introduce you to the term rough draft."

My main reaction to her attitude is much as geekosaur recommended. Although I did respond at length on my blog, at the time, but that was for the sake of my Nano friends reading it. Nano is in many ways about giving oneself permission to set aside time to write. It would be awful if anyone struggling to give themselves that permission were convinced by her that "selfishly" writing a novel without a publisher having asked you to do so were a shameful endeavor and an unforgivable imposition on your friends and family.

Jacque: If the site is back up for you, check out the Boulder forums. We can has Google calendar widget!

#108 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2009, 05:06 PM:

Since this is my first year and I'm coming in late and I have five projects due by the end of the month and eleven guinea pigs (but no cats) to vacuum but no vacuumer so I have to do it by hand —


— Is it permitted to just hang out and peck at the keyboard when the mood strikes, and work up the juices to participate NEXT year...?

Huh huh can I huh?


#109 ::: Antonia T Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2009, 07:19 PM:

28,238 words

Which would have made another 3000 word day if I'd updated a litte earlier. So Thursday is going to look a big day, if it goes as well.

Charlie's worries are mounting. He thought things were good, but his complacency--maybe that's not quite the right word--is getting repeatedly challenged.

And Helen isn't there to talk with.

#110 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2009, 11:36 AM:

Found it. Technology is so cool when it works. And you can figure out how to use it.

#111 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2009, 04:46 AM:

Thursday wasn't a good day.

But, rather than throw away a chunk of rather awkward text that didn't really fit, a couple of lines turned it into a nightmare.

Works for NaNoWriMo, not a good answer for publication

And I'm just past 29,900 words, which isn't bad, considering.

#112 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2009, 12:15 PM:

That's dang good, Antonia - going by the traditional daily target chart, that's just about 6 days ahead of schedule. Go go go!

I only got caught up to last night's 20K target at about 12:15 AM. But at least I'm back on track now. Hopefully will stay there, although any day that starts at the vet (regularly scheduled follow-up for recovering kitty) is liable to be a profitless day. I was going to spend the wait time writing at the Le Peeps across the parking lot, but I seem to be poking at the Internet instead. Perhaps it will poke back.

Ah well. A slightly early "halfway done!" party is scheduled tonight in Boulder. About 17 of us are going to descend en masse (but not sans warning) upon the little cafe in my neighborhood that does cheap all-you-can-eat spaghetti.

#113 ::: K.C. Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2009, 02:46 PM:

I've made it to about 23,000 words on the new project I started on day 2 (after realizing the one I started with on day 1 was not holding my interest at all).

One of the things I love about NaNo, which I don't think anyone else has mentioned, is that at the end of the month, I have a new rough draft that I didn't have at the beginning of the month. The book I'm writing now is not one I'd have written if not for NaNo--I'd never even have thought up the idea. I don't really know how to describe the feeling I get from that. When I can look at the calendar and think, "A book was birthed in this month," it amazes me a little bit. (And then I realize how silly I sound, and stop talking about it.)

#114 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2009, 06:52 PM:

Up to 31800...

Doesn't feel like a good day, as I lost some time replacing a very small, very old, boot drive on my computer. But still ahead of the daily quota needed for 50000 words in November.

#115 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2009, 06:40 PM:


But it's the Doctor Who special tomorrow.

And I'm not sure that I want to watch it.

#116 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2009, 06:58 PM:


Went reasonably well.

Doctor Who, I have mixed thoughts. After watching the Doctor Who Confidential which followed, I'm wondering why RTD felt he had to explain so much. Not that the story idea is bad, bur you could plat Spot the Cliche, and if you took a sip every time there was a shot of The Doctor running along a corridor you would have been well-oiled by the time the episode had ended.

#117 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2009, 11:59 AM:

I've had an attack of sense and decided I'm going to do pseudo-NaNoWriMo this year (journalling, perhaps some blogging) and shoot for doing it for real next year, now that I'm plugged into the infrastructure. (Thanks, Nicole!)

Or maybe be a "Nano-phyle" as one of our dinner companions referred to herself the other night.

#118 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2009, 12:15 PM:

#833 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers)@833: TMI

There are times when I actually know to appreciate my naivete.

#119 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2009, 12:16 PM:

AACK! Sorry about the malformed post. My mouse-finger clicked without my consent.

#120 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2009, 04:48 AM:

Hit a bit of a sticky patch, but I hope I'm through it. I could reach 40,000 words today, if things go well this evening.

If not today, then tomorrow.

#121 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2009, 04:56 PM:

And 40,247 now.

Things feel easier than they did last year. I don't know if the story, as a whole, is any better, and I started today with the heroine barrel-rolling a four-engined flying boat over the Niagara Falls.

The casualty rate is much lower than last year. But I have ideas t deal with that.

#122 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2009, 03:31 AM:

A 1930's cigarette lighter rigged as a bomb: it explodes with the first flick.

The characters know it isn't likely to kill the victim, but it's nasty. A chap could lose his fingers and it's within inches of his face.

Does that sound a reasonable assessment?

#123 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2009, 07:01 PM:

44,570 words

I'm going to hit the target, that's for sure.

#124 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2009, 09:04 PM:

Antonia @ 122: Yep, the standard lighter has plenty of room inside for a blasting cap (sufficient by itself to remove most of the user's hand, plus major damage or worse to face), and probably enough additional explosive to bring the whole device up to grenade-equivalent. This one's a really nasty little trick, and not one to be in the same room with, if avoidable.

#125 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2009, 03:22 AM:

The figures I was able to find suggest that a typical grenade filling is about 30cc of TNT. And a Zippo lighter just doesn't have the volume. (I was being really nasty and thinking of mustard gas.)

And some space would be taken up by the firing mechanism, which has to be triggered by the action which would light a real lighter.

(Q-branch would have a hard time in my stories.)

#126 ::: JJR ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2009, 01:14 PM:

35,000 words or so, and...

Characters are having feelings that I didn't tell them to! The landscape grew a history! I know where the end is going to take place, and I have a map to get there! I even have some faith that this will be a good book (after I completely re-write the first half, at least)! I'm having fun!

Of course I only came over here to post because I now have to write a part that is supposed to be suspenseful but that I don't find very interesting. Ah well, back to it...

#127 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2009, 05:56 PM:

47,418 words. Today was mostly good.

I've set up the black-clad ninja assassins.

#128 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2009, 09:14 AM:

No more NaNoWriMo for me. This year my SAD got worse a lot faster than I'm used to, and one of its primary effects on me is that it kills my ability to string words together. The verbal part of my brain goes into hibernation, no matter what I do.

At any rate, I think that unless I move back to more southern climes (I'm at 61N latitude), I'm not going to do NaNoWriMo again. I'll devote November to fiber arts and drawing, since the visual part of my creativity isn't much affected.

And cheering other people on, of course. *\o/* Those are some fabulous word counts, up there!

#129 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2009, 11:30 PM:

Around 7800 words since I posted to this thread on November 11. The novel as a whole is at around 73000 words; it was about 55000 words when I resumed work on it on November 2. I think I'm pretty near the ending, 3-5k words left perhaps, but there are scenes I skipped earlier that I need to go back and fill in, plus the aforementioned plot and worldbuilding inconsistencies that will necessitate major restructuring on second draft.

#130 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2009, 01:09 PM:

50,113 words, less than five minutes ago, with a gunfight in the square outside an old Spanish church.

Spain in 1937--I never quite figured how I could get the guy into a serape.

#131 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2009, 08:27 AM:

Around 4200 words since I last posted here on November 22; but that includes an alternate draft of one scene from a different character's POV; only one version of that scene (at most) will be in the final draft. Total word count ~79000 words.

A couple of days ago I got to what I thought was going to be the ending, but I realized it was too inconclusive and it wouldn't suit to just stop the story there. I could either restructure the latter part of the plot so more conclusive things happen in a shorter time, or just keep going; on first draft I'm opting for the latter, but will almost certainly do the former on the next draft.

#132 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2009, 05:36 AM:

Last year, I think I managed to finish the story I was telling.

This year, I'm stumbling with the climactic scene. So I feel a little disappointed. But a furry lesbian bondage sex scene with added ninja assassins is maybe more of a challenge.

But I did hit the target word-count.

Incidentally, the NaNoWriMo official word-counter reads a few hundred words less that most word-processor word counts. It may be things such as hyphens and em-dashes, and I'm pretty sure that Open Office treats "word.The" as two words, while NaNoWriMo doesn't.

#133 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2009, 12:31 PM:

#134 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2009, 01:56 AM:

I abandoned my Hungarian translation project after two chapters and eighteen days. In hindsight, the 19th century novel I picked was too difficult. I'm going to be a little less ambitious in December, and try to translate two or three short stories. Maybe try another novel in six months or so.

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