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A Month of Words

Starting tomorrow, I’m back! Nanowrimo begins at midnight tonight and I’m ready to do my first intense month of novel writing since 2009. I started doing Nanowrimo in 2001 with my first novel, Pray for Rain. Since then, there have been six other “wins.” That makes me a self-appointed Nanowrimo veteran.

In case there is anyone out there who doesn’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s an idea, a concept, a month-long event, a website that has grown from 20 something people in the Bay Area of San Francisco in 1999 to hundreds of thousands of avid subscribers around the world. The idea is to write 50,000 words of a brand new novel (no starting ahead of time or working on a work-in-progress) in the month of November. That’s 1667 words a day and the rewards, while often abstract, are immense.

In 2008, 2010 and 2011, I was unable to participate fully due to family obligations, so this year, I asked my family to pretend I don’t exist and have committed myself to write a new novel. I have a title, plot, characters, and even a book cover. I’m using Scrivener software to help me organize everything. Today, the last full day before the actual writing begins, I’m doing more research and am working on The Pitch.

I was listening to this Writing Excuses podcast the other day and got some very simple, but supremely logical and valuable advice from the guest Janci Patterson: Never start a novel without having the pitch firmly established. If you can’t say what the novel is about, it won’t be impossible to write, but it won’t be as easy, you’ll lose your way more often, and the rewrites just might kill the project altogether.

I’m no detailed outliner. Part of what I love about writing is what I discover as I write, but that’s not the same thing as winging it. I have learned that I have to have a map (literally or metaphorically or both) and I have to know who is taking this journey and why. A good pitch will cover all that succinctly and enticingly.

Mine’s still not perfect. Gotta go.

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