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Friday, 8 March 2013

Nano, under a new canvas

I shall slow the posting down next week, less blog and more novel, you might say. Camp Nanowrimo has been announced for April - that's close- and July, which leaves a bit more breathing space.
Camp Nano is the summer outbreak of creative abandon from the people at Nanowrimo, and the itch to get in there and go for another word count challenge is starting to get into my fingers, but I have to finish the Nanowrimo winner from 2012 first, What You Ask for, is still under construction, definitely work in progress and you can help yourself to the story so far over at Smashwords.com. That makes any thoughts of Camp Nanowrimo more likely to be July; it does mean I can start a slow heat on the back burner and see what comes out of the smoke and maybe I'll try something different, have a change from the team at the Grange.
Camp Nano looks more relaxed than the November charge through the novel-ling world, with the choice of word counts, obviously set before you start, and by telling you all this I've just started the process explored by Chris Baty in his book that accompanies Nanowrimo; No Plot No Problem. He tells the story of the first Novel Writing Month and the abandon with which they launched themselves into the adventure totally unprepared (certainly by the usual standards) and went for it, and uses the experience to advise on how to do it and finish the challenge. A prominent piece of advice is tell your friends, garner their support, gather their encouragement and by doing so encourage yourself to stick to it, otherwise you have to explain why it all fell apart.
Their first venture was a few years before I started writing Iceline, under a different title but the method is one which appealed to me, for years I tried the traditional method of plotting and character outlines, spending time working out the storyline and the frustration drove me mad. It all changed with a chance conversation in the local Indie bookstore (Philip Howard Books) about an interview with Philip Pullman. He described how he wrote; working from a start point to a finish, both of which were known but letting the story unfold along the way.
I liked the idea; and applied it to Iceline and for me it works, get the story down on paper and sort out the details afterwards (What to do you mean it shows?). A similar thinking applies at Nanowrimo, the target of 50,000 words in 30 days is an incentive backed by a deadline. The latter in Chris Baty's book is explained as a vital tool, perhaps even the most important one. I certainly noticed the difference when the November ended and the rate of words per day fell through the floor in a pretty spectacular way.
Pre-planning is allowed, but the actual writing kicks off at midnight plus one minute on the first day of the month, and the frenzy follows naturally. The conversations about writing at home tend to be brief, and from my point of view, Nano month or not are usually restricted to the current word count, and the widgets and other devices that can be attached to your blog or website add to the tension.
I thoroughly enjoyed Nanowrimo last year and intend to go for it again this November, the July camp is an added bonus, and will be approached with the abandon required to put the word count down on paper.
Surprise yourself, how you approach either of these challenges, Camp Nano or the full blown November Fest is up to you, but if you have that urge to write a novel and it has been hanging around gathering dust in a cobwebbed corner of life, pick it up and dust it down. Sign up and give it a go. If 50,000 seems to big to start with, have a look at Camp Nanowrimo and choose a word count you think you can achieve (you will be surprised, once the words start flowing how quickly they pour out) and this time next year I may be reading your blog about your novel published at Smashwords, or wherever.
There should be an update on What You Ask For in the next few days, maybe early next week and we'll see where the story has got to, shall we?
The idea of writing a novel, without preparing for it properly, charging in, going live without any rehearsal.
Sounds like being alive to me!
Meanwhile, back at the typeface...

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