Saturday, October 28, 2006

Nanowrimo - The Countdown Begins

On the first of November, despite mounting commitments, I am going to attempt Nanowrimo - to write a novel in 30 days.

I've got a really solid novel planned out - just haven't had a chance to write it yet - so there shouldn't be any problem. Oh, except for that pesky job, life etc. Tina and I are even considering getting second jobs to get our finances in order for a return to America.

So it looks like a pretty daunting task - but I'm sure it can be done. Why am I so confident? Because my incredibly prolific namesake, Angie Hulme, managed to do just that last year.

Angie describes herself as a 'wannabee writer,' which doesn't seem quite accurate since she's written a huge number of books, including "After the Fairytale" which starts off where the 'happy ending' of Cinderella finishes.

I asked Angie about Nanowrimo and the secrets of her success last year:

So for the uninitiated, what is Nanowrimo all about?

Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writers Month. The basic challenge is to write a 50k word novel during the 30 days of November. Personally, it's a really big challenge and so much fun to do; socially, you've got this huge group of people who are just as insane as you are trying to do exactly the same thing – so you're never lacking support either online or in person from other Nanoers in your region. Nano as well raises money to do good things – this year the aim is to raise enough to build a library in Vietnam. It's all about having fun, doing something daft you wouldn't normally even think of doing and everyone not doing it thinks is totally insane, not to mention impossible, and going for that sense of achievement of a challenge well met.

This isn't your first year! Tell us about last year and what you wrote.

Indeed, this is my second year! I had so much fun last year I simply had to do it again! Last year I played the bad guy and wrote a story about a fellow who gains a big inheritance form a dead Uncle who suggests he uses it to do something memorable, something to change things – so my until-this-point everyday fellow reveals he's actually secretly missing a few screws, and sets off around the UK persuading other people to break the 10 Commandments! It was so much fun to write – just to turn off the inner editor, write whatever came to mine, not taking any of it seriously; I had myself in fits of giggles a number of times. And to make it even more fun I took on challenges form other people of things to fit into the story somehow. The entire Nottingham region had a challenge to fit ferrets in somewhere, other challenges met included evil bunnies, gnomes in compromising positions and a bucket with a big smile and a little yeah, it got almost surreal at points! But meeting with the Nottingham group every weekend through the 'ordeal' was so much a part of it as well – it wouldn't have been Nano without that, and the word games on the forums and speed-writing challenges in the chatrooms. It wound up, for me, as just a real fun time and after I finished sleeping after last years, I was immediately looking forward to doing it again! Incidentally – I did my 50k in 22 days last year; plan to try and beat that this time!

What was the secret of your success?

Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee keeping me awake late at night in order to hit my word targets, and plenty more at work the next day simply to keep me awake!
Having a good group around me was also really helpful – every Saturday the Nottingham Nanoers spend a couple of hours or an afternoon together and it's such a laugh and such fun and I would come away feeling refreshed and renewed and often with knowledge of where my story was going next; I think without that group of us I wouldn't have come near finishing. Also understanding friends are handy – non-nanoers who don't mind me asking random questions about nonsensical things or asking them for challenges or ranting about my characters or raving about my word count and generally hearing little from me except random nano nonsense for the month, they're great! I recommend warning them in advance!

This year...well once again I'm playing the baddie! My protagonist is a lady, a police officer, who after being jilted by her husband thinks back and realised that every lover she has ever had has done that in one way or another her whole life. So, again revealing a few missing screws nobody realised weren't there, she setts off tot rack them all down backwards from husband to first boyfriend in order to murder them in strange and interesting ways. So far for challenges, I have the Nottingham theme (seems to be 'the lower half of a man's right leg' - worryingly, none of us had much problem seeing where we could fit this into our stories!) and acrostic paragraphing, though I've not yet decided what word to spell out. And I'm sure there'll be more along the way!

What advice do you have for any budding Nanowrimo'ers (like me?)

First of all – snacks. Buy lots of snacks and easy to eat foods. Also coffee or any other favoured energising drink, plus water/fruit juice for general consumption. Make sure you have plenty – you'll be needing it while writing.

Second – warn all your friends who are likely to notice something amiss during the month – and once warned, you can also make use of them for bouncing plot off, advancing it by asking what they might do, talking to them on the phone to get away from typing for a while,and various other things.

Third – don't promise to do anything with other people; tel them you will if your word count is good, but don't make any promises for November or for the first few days of December when you're likely to be sleeping.

Storywise – have an idea, plot as much as you like, but don't force the story somewhere it doesn't want to go else you risk losing it entirely; be flexible, write whatever comes to mind and if you get stuck, talk to friends and other nanoers. Also if you don't like your main character – kill them and replace them, seriously, this is Nano, you're not trying to write classic literature – entertain yourself, whatever that may take, and you'll get through it.

Get a good headstart during the first week or so, then weeks 2 and 3 can be more relaxed and hopefully you won't spend week 4 in a panic! The daily word count divides into 1667 per day over 30 days – so try setting a daily target of 2000 per day, if you mostly hit that then the odd bad day doesn't matter and it keeps you on course for being able to actually finish your story, not just hit the 50k target!

Don't get disheartened by other people's word counts. You'll find some people ace right through and are i the 100k's while you're still in 20 – it doesn't matter, you're challenging yourself, not competing against them.

Keep it fun, really, there's nothing at stake here, it's meant to be a fun challenge – keep it light, entertain yourself, remember you're not writing a masterpiece, you're just...writing.

Well, you'll be able to read about my attempts to write The Bootleg Boys on Nanowrimo at the Adventure Eddy blog. The current story should be winding up in the next couple of days.

And if you want to find out more about Angie's writing, the best place to start it her website. You can also find After the Fairytale on Amazon.


Fight The Good Fight! said...

'By the way - if your understanding of the Northern Ireland situation is "why doesn't Britain give it back" then you obviously don't have a CLUE.'

Your assumption to my question does not answer the question roland.

Care to answer the question roland?

Don't presume that you know anything about my knowledge of Ireland roland.
I happened to be of Irish descent
and Know all about Ireland.
My Grandfather is from Strangford.
(If you happen to know where that is other than from the internet)
We have deep history there roland.

Erin go Braugh!

Rolski said...

The point of this comment section is to make comments RELEVANT TO THE BLOGGER's POST.

But, hey, thanks for playing anyway, Porkchop.

Fight The Good Fight! said...

Man, you sure have a big ego don't you?
Hey BIG BOY, are you not smart enough to answer the question.
Or are you going to keep dodging the question.

I could care less what you say.
IMO you can stay in your British Empire that you love so much you want to cut and run.

Rolski said...

Danny Boy, oh Danny Boy, the pipes the pipes are calling...

Listen, Mate, there's a response to your questions right where you originally asked for it.

Fight The Good Fight! said...

YOU, do not not have to give me a 'teaching lesson' red.
Patronizing egotistical know it all, huh.

It STILL does not answer the question moron. You are being defensive and accusational.

And to pull the Israeli card has NOTHING to due with Ireland!
That is so leftist and liberal.
Do you even know where the jews came from?
If I recall No british personage can trace back their roots to Ireland.