Everyone's a winner - well, a lot of people - all those that write a 50,000-word novel in November - National Novel Writing Month:

Status? What status?

Started (Day 1) on All Saints Day, 1 November 2005.

Watch word from Bev

In step 2 of my 10 steps to prepare for writing a NaNoWriMo novel, I asked friends to help. Poet Bev Momoi offered to send me, on each writing day in November, one WOTD (Word Of The Day), a word to use that day -- a word that I'm probably not thinking of. Of course, this increases my goal to 50,030 words in total.

By a third of the way into the book, the words had sometimes led me to discover something a little more about a character (often by adding humor) and had sometimes enriched the plot. They were all both a challenge and a delight.

John Steinbeck

In 1951, when John Steinbeck was writing East of Eden:

"he unblocked himself for the daily stint ahead by [hand-]writing a 'letter' to his close friend and editor, Pascal Covici.
... The writing covered the period from January 29 through November 1, 1951. There was a letter for every working day until the first draft of the novel was finished."
[Publishers' Note to the Journal of a Novel quoted above.]

It will be clear that Steinbeck took nine months not one.

Baty's weekly tips

Read Chris Baty's No Plot? No Problem! for the full tips, exercise, and more, much more! Meanwhile here are highlights:

  1. Don't cross stuff out. Just italicize questionable material and you can edit later.

  2. Keep the story to yourself. Don't share the novel till the month is over.
  1. "Flesh out characters through random conversations with friends and strangers."

  2. Couch potato: pick a TV show (fictional if you are writing a novel; a documentary if you're doing non-fiction). Watch critically. How do the writers "fit a lot of story into a little time." See Baty p. 118 for more ideas here.
Suddenly my whole novel is in italics.
  1. You've introduced your characters. Now "for better or worse, the next great stage -- plot building -- is upon us."

  2. "Don't worry about getting it right this week. That comes in the revisions. This week, your goal is just to get it written."

  3. Wash your hands. Eat fruits and veggies. Stay healthy.

  4. If you lack energy for a full writing session, make "noveling quickies where you just poke your head into your novel for twenty minutes or so, add a pinch of color here, and embellishment there, and call it a night after 500 words." [How can anyone write at that rate? It's three times my speed!]
  1. For people who thrive on input from others, see p.128 by getting your friends to brainstorm for an hour as focus group. You tell them about the characters, but do not reveal more your plot, just a vague story direction. They "argue, debate, and build off one another's ideas ... you'll get amazing insights on motivations, subplots, and other nefarious activities."

  2. Exploit "any hairy handhold you can use to hurry your novel along." Keep a notebook with you all the time to capture these 'plot flashes' for immediate use when you get back to your novel text.
Plot is harder than character.
Lash loose ends (preferably to each other).
  1. Baty seems to think that he (and therefore we) could write 6,000 words in 4.5 hours of writing time.

  2. "Throw a party and trash the house. Pick out a character that's been causing you no end of grief, and do something big and reckless with them. ... If you've hit a standstill in your efforts to bring two obviously perfect romantic leads together, kill one of them. "

  3. "Make a pact with yourself to eventually destroy all evidence that this novel ever existed. ... destroying your novel before anyone reads it will give you a sexy allure that's part Zen letting-go and part Jimi Hendrix writhing over his flaming Telecaster. Yeeeowch."

  4. And from his 3rd-week cheerleader letter: "Abandon the quest for pretty sentences. Beautiful language is small-stakes writing. We're doing something epic here."
  1. Take an hour and draw a map of your world. Fill in what you know. Add a lot that you don't already know: "get a little crazy, adding an ancient amphitheater behind a dry cleaning shop, or a whale-harpooning station atop City Hall." Color it vividly.

  2. "The Person and Thing Game." Take an unread newspaper to a place with lots of foot traffic.
    (1) Close eyes; count to 15; open eyes: "the first person you see is your Person. Write down everything you can about them before they get away."
    (2) Close eyes; open newspaper to a random page; run finger over the page for a couple of seconds; stop; open eyes: "The article, advertisement, or photo you're pointing to has a deep connection to the Person you just collected. What's the connection? You have to figure it out, and you have to work that person and their issue convincingly into the next chapter of your novel."
Lots of loose ends. Have not yet got the hang of the lashing them.

So I concentrating on making a lot more loose ends, in the hopes that some of them will be lashable.

[That's lashable, not laughable, thank you very much.]

And this book does not have enough chocolate in it yet.

End game.
  1. Love your body. Be nice to eyes, wrists, neck.

  2. Look through your noveling notebook for ideas you want to include this month.

  3. Try to get to 50K early. Celebrate. Then write more and more - so you can then go back and delete some abysmal italicized passages and STILL have 50K words.

  4. Tell everyone you know when you reach 50K.
  1. Finish by hand (but only if you have a word lead).

  2. At social gatherings reintroduce yourself to the world as a novelist!
Time for another massage.

And just another ounce of chocolate. Well, maybe two.

Soprano ensemble singing.

[Quotes are from Baty's final cheerleader letter.]

"Before November ends, you will find yourself on the edge of 49,000 words. Getting there might require a lot of work between now and next Wednesday. But get there, you will." "When you round that corner, and 50K comes into view, know that all of us here on staff will be rising to our feet, screaming ourselves silly with the rest of your family and friends, as you lift your arms in a victorious salute and fly across the finish line. We'll see you on the other side of 50K, novelist. " "Triumph. Celebration. Sleep. It's all just a few days away."

See more on Baty's weekly NaNoWriMo tips in his book: