Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November already?

Where has the time gone? Am I alone in my utter astonishment that it November already? Part of me thinks the latest it could possibly be right now is September, and that's just because it's too cold outside to be August.

Well, since the calendar seems quite insistent that it is now November, I can't let the moment pass without a quick shout out to NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. This will be my sixth year participating in NaNoWriMo, but this is the least prepared I've ever felt in November. Since the rules prohibit working on an established story, and I'm deep into the editorial phase of my current projects, I have absolutely NO idea what I'm writing this month. So, I'm just going to put my fingers to the keys and see where my muse takes me. Either that, or I'll succumb to all of the "everything else" that is demanding my attention.

But no, let's focus on the positive. Wonderful stories can come out of the ramblings of the NaNoCrazed mind. Right?

Which reminds me. Even if you're not writing great prose, the key to completing the NaNoWriMo challenge is to increase that word count. From here on out, NaNoWriMo will no longer be something I can't do, rather National Novel Writing Month will be something I can not do. See? More words.

But I did say "let's think positively," didn't I? Or rather, "Did I not say let us think positively?"

I firmly believe that good modern dialogue should contain plenty of contractions, but in November, all bets are off. Not only will I advise against "don’t," "can't," and "I'll," I will also humbly suggest the use of such anachronisms as "let us" and "of the clock" (three words when o'clock gets us only one). Characters from the south will suddenly switch from "y'all" to "you all,"or better yet, "all of you all." Hey, what else is the editing process for but removing such awful and disgraceful turns of phrase?

Another writing rule I will gladly relinquish in November is the prohibition against adverbs. Instead of "I'm confused" a character ought to say "I am completely, utterly, and horribly confused."

"That" is another word that comes out in November. Rather than "We all know we should avoid contractions," I will gladly proclaim, "We all know THAT we should all avoid contractions." It's not pretty (or it is not that pretty) but it does increase that word count.

Now, good writers are cringing to hear such advice (and would probably be even more upset to know that my mother-in-law becomes my mother in law during November) but not all good writing practices need to go out the window. For example, it should be noted that beats require far more words than tags. Rather than, "Eloise said," I humbly suggest, "Eloise slammed her saddle shoe clad foot down on the ceramic tile floor, crossed her arms in front of her chest, and stuck her lower lip out in a pout." See? Far more words. Oh, and it tells us a bit more about the character. That's important too I guess.

Also, were you aware that a properly typeset ellipsis (...) contains spaces between the three dots? ". . ." is three words with many word count programs while "..." is only one. What better time than NaNoWriMo to start typing correctly?

In the long run, none of this will make up for having absolutely NO idea what one should write this November, so I definitely have some brain storming to do. Still, in the meantime, as I type whatever random gibberish that comes to mind, at least I will be making those audaciously, horribly . . . umm . . . whatever . . . words count!

What tips, tricks, and strategies do you have that will help you through NaNoWriMo? I'd love to hear them all.

For more information about National Novel Writing Month, please visit www.nanowrimo.org.


  1. Great post Emily! I wish I could participate in NaNoWriMo with you....it sounds utterly, positively, absolutely fabulous!

  2. It is, Mandy! Even if you don't think you can get to 50K, I strongly encourage you to give it a shot. Or, at least check out the website (www.nanowrimo.org) and visit the forums to see what events are taking place in your area. Networking with other Wrimos is one of the best parts of November . . . other than the turkey, of course.

  3. Hey! Watch the turkey comments. lol

    I'm not participating this year in the NaNoWriMo. So happy that you can do it again, EM, you are an inspiration to most of us. Just wimping out this time around.

    Good luck!

  4. Lol, sorry Sal.

    But, don't wimp out. It's not too late to start. You never know what will come out of 50,000 words of aimless typing.

  5. If I had a date for my defense, I honestly would attempt it this year. I am looking for a new project myself, but I would love to help you brainstorm

  6. I've enjoyed NaNoWriMo in the past, but this year I'm polishing a manuscript that started as a nano-novel. I hope to pitch it in the coming weeks.

    Best wishes to all NaNoWriMos out there!