In a little over a week, I will begin a month of anguish, joy, frustration, elation, and sleep deprivation known as National Novel-Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
What Is NaNoWriMo?
Willing participants spend the month of November writing a novel with a minimum word count of 50,000.* The thinking behind this mind-boggling proposition when it was first launched some years ago was that many people say they want to write a novel, but few ever actually try. This is the month to try. And setting a word count and time limit forces you to be disciplined and actually do it. Not everyone who takes part has aspirations to being a professional novelist. There are those who do it just to check that goal off their bucket list. Some simply want to see if they can. Not everyone makes it to 50,000 words. Life sometimes gets in the way and they have to bail early. No-one’s judging. Though you do earn a cool banner if you “win.”
I did NaNoWriMo a few years ago, and used the month to write a 77,000 word novel, mostly from scratch. That novel went through revisions, beta reads, and polishing until it was ready to query. After taking through the query process for a number of months, however, I shelved it. Agent response and writerly intuition was telling me it still wasn’t ready. Maybe another time. Given my renewed zeal for my writing, I decided this would be a good year to give NaNoWriMo another shot.
My 2017 NaNoWriMo Project
I wrote my first serious attempt at a novel about 10 years ago. I wrote it all out by hand in notebooks, and had a blast doing it. When I finished it, I put it away and moved on to other writing projects, a couple of novellas, some short stories, flash fiction, eventually two more novels, all the time reading and improving both my understanding of the publishing world, and my writing skill. But that story in the drawer has haunted me ever since. I like the characters. I like the story. And while I’ve always known it’s far from perfect, and needs a lot of editing (it’s about 300,000 words long), I’ve also believed it deserves being crafted into a saleable novel. Sometime.
After thinking over various potential projects for this year’s NaNoWriMo, I came to the realization that this is the year. This is the time. I’m ready to take this:
and turn it into a novel I can shop to agents and maybe, hopefully, one day see published.
I’ve given it the working title of PORTALIS. That will undoubtedly change, have no fear! But it’ll do for now. I’ve also thrown together a brief synopsis for my NaNo profile that is also inadequate, but will do to give a hint of what it’s about. For those who can’t access my profile (you have to be registered with NaNoWriMo to see profiles), here it is:
English college students Jason and Jessica meet a strange man who whisks them away to an alternate world, where a colony of Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Celts, Gaels, and Danes have been living since the turn of the 11th century. For the last thousand years, they have co-existed in relative peace, building a society untouched by the Norman Conquest, the Wars of the Roses, the English Civil Wars, British Colonization, and two World Wars. But past rivalries are not easily forgotten, and our heroes soon find themselves embroiled in a power struggle that threatens the future of this world, and their own…
I’ve classified it as “Fantasy” since that’s the closest category that fits, I think.
So, expect November to be fairly light on the blog. I’ll try to post updates to my Facebook page. If you’re on FB you can follow me there. Also, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, feel free to make me a Buddy so we can cheer each other on!
*FYI, a 50,000 word novel is, in fact fairly short, unless you’re writing Middle Grade. Most Young Adult novels are between 70-90,000 words. Adult novels can range anywhere from 80-100,000 words. Even more if you write fantasy, or you’re Stephen King. But 50,000 is a reasonable goal for most, and you can always add to it later.