For those readers who aren’t into the masochistic art of writing you might not know that November is a special month known as “National Novel Writing Month,” more commonly called “NaNoWriMo.” During November writers are challenged to complete a 50,000 word manuscript between November 1 and November 30.
Every November I think that this is the year I’ll finally finish my novel. Every year, I fall short of my goal by approximately 49,750 words. Sad, eh? I start strong on November 1, but soon I’m lured away from my computer by thoughts of holiday meal preparations and Christmas shopping and a million other distractions.
Who’s to say, though, that another 30-day month wouldn’t suffice for NaNoWriMo? Why not March? Sure, it lacks the alliterative element, but the math would be the same. I’d still need to average 1,667 words a day to reach the 50,000 mark.
The good news is that over a period of several years, working erratically as the fickle spirit moved me, I have crafted a manuscript that two days ago was sitting right at 25,000 words. (I kept telling folks I was at 35,000–that just shows how long it’s been since I logged into my work. Again, sad.) So, if I can put together 50,000 words in 30 days, I’ll have 75,000 words.
There’s even better news—for the past two days I’ve written right at 1,200 words each day. Of course yesterday I had to pull out about a thousand words that just weren’t working to move the tale along. Those words go into my file titled “Misfit Words” for potential use at another point in the story. Thank heaven for word processing programs, am I right?
Why this burst of activity? Mainly it’s due to the Olli class I’m taking. Our “Fun With Writing” instructor, Heather Whitaker, has given me a figurative kick in the pants to get me unstuck. One technique I’ve found helpful is to interview my main character, or all my characters for that matter.
Ms. Whitaker provided us with a couple of lists of questions to ask characters. One’s the “Proust Questionnaire,” popularized by author/essayist, Marcel Proust as a parlor game. The second list is “Arthur Aron’s” list. Both can be found through a simple google search.
Now, there are a good many questions on both lists, and I didn’t try to ask my character every one. But just picking a few from each list solidified my understanding of the person my main character is. It’s been a game changer. She’s become much more real.
I sincerely hope I haven’t jinxed my current level of activity by writing this post. Sometimes my mind works in counter productive ways, but this feels good. I’m marching onward. Maybe this can be MaMaCoNo or March Maybe Complete Novel. Maybe not. That’s just ridiculous.