Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wordcraft -- Get your NaNoWriMo on

I was chatting with a fellow Dallas Writers Garret member during the intermission in last week’s Orchestra of New Spain concert when the subject of NaNoWriMo came up. That’s pronounced “nan-oh-rye-mo”, short for National Novel Writing Month, although it’s now gone international. It’s an organized effort to get people to commit to writing 50,000 words of their novels during the month of November.

Mandy looked sympathetic when I confessed I hadn’t even signed up at NaNoWriMo’s official website . “You’re only four days late,” she said.

As I write this, I’m getting even later.

(Mandy will also blog about NaNoWriMo on November 10, at

Gimmicky though it sounds, NaNoWriMo gives a lot of us the incentive to get busy with that book we’ve always meant to write. Or the next one, or the one after the next one. Whining all the way about other commitments (I was cleaning out an old family house for sale), even I managed to add more than 10,000 words on my novel in progress last year.

The official website is ,where the highly competitive can also log in their daily word counts.

The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to turn off your inner editor -- the voice saying you must correct all the misspellings, the lapses in logic, the bad grammar and punctuation -- before you can move forward. The NaNoWriMo attitude is, just let go and write. Editing’s what the other eleven months of the year are for.

But if you need help getting started, check out The site titles these as openings for short fiction, but there’s no reason you can’t use them to start a longer piece as well.

I’m always skeptical of writers who claim not to have any plan for their books. My own experience from previously writing apparently without plan is that I at least knew who my characters were and had some idea of what would happen in the story’s course. (I always look for places and ways to blow things up.) But once past the basic idea of your novel, if you need help with structure, consider Kristen Lamb’s blog,
www.warriorwriter.wordpress/. Of course, I’ve blogged about structure, scene, and characters, but Kristen’s put it all in a connected series. Tell her I sent you!

(Next Wednesday -- Hear what Stephen King has to say about his newest book, “11/22/63,” hailed by Dallas Morning News writer Joy Tipping as “Stephen King’s Great American Novel”. At this writing, some tickets were still available for King’s appearance Thursday, November 10, at

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