NaNoWriMo Warm-Up Thread

November 1st, 2010 is coming up soon and for those out there, this is exciting news. The National Novel Writing Month (AKA NaNoWriMo). If you’re not familiar with it, the premise is that starting November 1st and ending November 30th, you write a novel of your choosing with a minimum of 50K words. That’s it. It’s a lot of fun and if you live in a larger metropolitan area, a way to get out and write with others too.

Now’s the time to start planning if you choose to, no writing allowed, but you can outline to your heart’s desire.

Some of my random tips:

  1. If you’re using OpenOffice like I did last year, don’t trust the word count. NaNoWriMo’s word counter is very close to the results for MS Word. I was at 46K words in OpenOffice, when I did the verification on NaNoWriMo’s website, I was at 43K. It felt like a set back.

  2. Get out to local meetings. I had a blast writing around other people. I thought it would be distracting, and sometimes it could be, but sharing accomplishments, plot revelations, and those weird moments when your characters take control of the story are great. Plus, friends and family can’t call you a hermit for the month.

  3. I had a rough idea for the plot and the story arc for my book. I used note cards for each chapter that gave an outline of what I thought would happen. This made it easier to organize my thought and also just to have something to write when I got around to my laptop since the note cards were ultra portable.

  4. You’ll hear this a lot, but shutting off the inner critic is extremely liberating. The force compelling you to just write crap as quick as possible actually takes you places you might not have gone.

  5. I was smart and budgeted some vacation time for November so I can take a couple half days off. Last year I took a day off which was really helpful.

Right now I’m mulling over an idea for this year’s book in my head. A sequel to the Qu’ran, which would mean I’d have to re-read the Qu’ran soon. I think it’d be a fun project now, but also seems like a weird amount of work that would be done while writing it.

So what are your tips/tricks/stories/plots/ephemera from last year or this year?

Really? 3000 words difference? Is it something like OpenOffice counts hyphenated words as two but Word and NaNoWriMo only count them as one?

This actually sounds like a pretty good idea. I wasn’t aware there were NaNoWriMo meetings. Ironically, writing might be what gets me out of the house. :smiley:

I’ve yet to participate in NaNoWriMo, but every year I’m tempted. I’ve got a few potential stories bouncing around in my head, none of them fully formed, and it might be nice to just turn off the need to edit and structure and just have a go at getting a story out. It might be fun to take my various City of Heroes characters, which are just about impossible to create without some backstory informing character creation no matter how vague, and weave them into something that’s not blatantly lifted from City of Heroes itself.

I think that’s part of the problem at least, as I had hyphenations, but not that many. But at least I wasn’t alone on it.

Our local group actually has had an annual 28 hour write-a-thon that is also mobile going from one coffee shop, to another, to a library, etc every couple hours.

I’m not sure I understand–50,000 words is a minimum, right? Is being off by a few hundred here or there that big a deal? I guess I’m sort of seeing angst in that thread as if these people intended that their last word be word number 50,000, in which case, being off by a few hundred would matter. But if you end up with (say) 55,000 words, you’ve hit the requirement and a few hundred words here or there wouldn’t matter at all.

I’ve toyed with the idea. I used to do a lot of fiction writing years ago, but have done very little since. Le Ministre’s “Flash Fiction” contests here on the SDMB have me writing again, though; and I’m finding that it’s as much fun as it used to be. A novel is not short fiction, though, so we’ll have to see.

You don’t have to join a local group, do you? I like to write by myself–as I recall from years ago, I got very little writing done in group settings, so I’d prefer to just be alone if I’m going to try this.

Sure, but 50,000 is the goal, so if you’re trying to meet it by the end of November things can get close. Realizing you’re actually 3000 words further from the goal than you thought is like losing two days of work.

I’ve always gotten exactly the same count with MS word as with the Nano counter.

My tip is that if you can use Dragon Naturally Speaking version 10 or the just released version 11, do (but buy a better microphone. Radioshack has a fantastic one for less than $25). It was so much easier to get to 50,000 words last year because of this. It might not make much of a difference to the 60+ wpm typists, but if you’re like me and only 40 or so, it’s a lot faster to talk than type even if you’re correcting the occasional errors.
I’m looking forward to this. Even if I don’t manage to finish the last third of the novel I started for last year’s project (ultimately I’d like to try to publish it, so I’m aiming for another 30,000-40,000 words in addition to the 75,000 so far to finish it. Obviously it’s gone a lot slower after nanowrimo given I’m only up 25,000 since December 1st), I’ll probably still work on the sequel since I already have a rough idea of where the overarching plot is going to head after the first novel. Who knows, maybe working on the next novel will help me figure out the lose ends in the last one.

This time, instead of worrying about people who can’t come back from the dead properly like the murdered kids in “Pull”, Caitlin will be work with the police to help people who were forced back to life plus she’ll feel responsible for her boyfriend’s reluctant decision to live in the real world - “Push”, of course. Ultimately I’d like it to be a trilogy (or maybe a trilogy for adult readers and a YA novel from her foster son Danny’s pov), but right now I have no idea what word that goes with the terms Pull and Push that could frame a third story. Lift? Drop? Carry? How would any of those relate to the limbo-like concept of the Everthere? I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually.

Okay, I see–I think. :slight_smile: Thanks!

I tend to “write long” anyway. I did have to do some editing on my recent Flash Fiction entry to get it down to within the 2000-word limit. So, if I shoot for 50,000 words, I’ll likely end up with 55,000.

I’m always tempted to participate, but I also always have lots of other projects. Still, maybe I can clear the plate enough this year to take a shot at it.

Me too, but I toss them aside for 30 days :slight_smile: Despite the goal of 1,667 words a day, I usually still manage to get some other writing done and/or a couple of books read.

I’ve been doing two marathons a year lately – last year I did both NaNoWriMo and August’s WeSeWriMo (Web Series Writing Month), the latter of which produced 31K words, for a total of 81K words last year. This year I wrote a 45K-word novella in the first three weeks of January, and completed another 30K WeSeWriMo goal. With all that writing done, I’m not sure I’ll do NaNo. I have a few books to edit (not my own) and need to spend more time editing/posting my webserial’s installments, rather than creating new material.

My recommendation is the same as last year: hie thee hence to Write or Die, a tool that lets you choose a time limit and mini-goal (say, 45 minutes and 1,500 words) and a penalty for pausing writing (if you’re on “Kamikaze” mode, if you stop writing for five seconds, your words will disappear one by one until you start writing again. YIPE!). The benefit of this program is that you’re forced to write your ass off without thinking or second-guessing yourself… there’s just no time for editing or angsting about finding the perfect word. I’m notoriously constipated as a writer and have found this tool positively invaluable for forcing me out of my paralysis.

Ah it’s only 1,667 words a day. I bet I weaken and will do this after all. It won’t be a novel, it’ll probably be more of my webserial, but words is words is words.

I did this last year and I’m really excited to do it again this year! Even though my novel was just… terrible. Thanks for the tips! I used OpenOffice and had no idea that its word counter was off.

This will be my third year with Nano and I definitely recommend at least going to a few write-ins. It was a lot of fun, even if I was a historical fiction geek in a sea of unfathomable sci-fi geeks :). But we ate cheap pizza, hung out at a cool coffee house and had a kick-ass Turkey Day (not actually on Thanksgiving) with all the fixins.

I was intimidated at first, thinking that the kind of people that would bother to put on write-ins and such might be a bit on the snobby side, but it was the direct opposite. One girl lives right down the street from me, in my lovely Las Vegas ghetto home.

The big challenge for me this year is that I have a busy, busy job now where I was unemployed for Nano last year. However, I did best the count by an extra 25,000 last year so I have no excuses. I’m thinking of writing a horror story, but still trying to find my basic premise. Right now, no vampires is my only rule.

This sounds great - I’m eager to participate. I think I can pull it off. Exams are in early November, so that’s a snag, but once they’re over my days will be completely open. I can do the bulk of the writing in the latter half of the month.

The thing that’s kind of worrying me is the “No material you’ve already written” rule. Of course I get why it’s there, but when I get a story in my head I always scribble down at least a few scenes from it right away. The only ideas I haven’t already disqualified for NaNo are those I just don’t care about that much. I gotta come up with a new idea.

Well, since this is the warm-up thread, should we kick around some ideas? What sort of stuff do you like to write? What genre, what themes?

Ideas, I’ve got. Time and dedication to actually write stories based on the ideas are in shorter supply.

I’ve been wanting to get back to writing for a few months now and I have three novel ideas floating around in my head. I’m looking forward to NaNo as my official start writing date. I plan to work on outlines and character development in the meantime.

yea! my first novel attempt. :slight_smile:

Write or Die is wonderful. It breaks everything down into much more manageable chunks and last year, it got me over the finish line.

I’m in again this year.

Oh my gosh was this fun - in again this year!

(voice in head: ARE YOU CRAZY!???)

You know, I might actually do that this year. Might be a good way to get in the habit of writing daily so I can finish my REAL book.

I know that the NaNoWriMo FAQ says essentially not to bring existing materials to the table because you’d be too attached to the characters and storyline, but has anyone done a sequel to a story that they wrote in the past? I have an unfinished novel that I’ve been working on for an embarrassing number of years now (an anti-NaNoWriMo, if you will), and some half-baked ideas of what’s going to happen when it ends. I think this would provide an interesting opportunity for me to bang out something fast and see how it compares to the first novel. 'cause other than that, I got nothing.

My first three NaNos were a trilogy.

Of course, it didn’t start out to be a trilogy, I just wildly underestimated how many words it would take to actually write the outline I’d come up with. :wink: