October 28, 2001
7:15 AM   Subscribe

Monday is the last day to declare your intention to write a 50,000-word novel during National Novel Writing Month (Nov. 1-30). "Dubious fiction writers from all nations are invited to participate," says organizer Chris Baty. So far, around 3,000 writers have pledged to bring 150 million new words into the world.
posted by rcade (103 comments total)
So far, around 3,000 writers have pledged to bring 150 million new words into the world.

"fernzuckle inimicrab, bonz rexic gazbert."

there's seven to get 'em started.
posted by quonsar at 8:03 AM on October 28, 2001

Seven? Am I slow or did you only cite five?
::Heads off to the loony farm::
posted by bloggboy at 8:16 AM on October 28, 2001

posted by muckster at 8:52 AM on October 28, 2001

It's an intentional double, I think.

bloggboy: maybe quonsar counts the " and the ." as words.
posted by dogwelder at 9:25 AM on October 28, 2001

May be a double, but it's the first I've heard of it... and just in time! It'll probably remind those people who signed up when it was posted last time that we've only about four days to begin.

NaMoWriMo roll call, just to see who's participating from MeFi, starting with myself:

MSB, Yeadon, PA
posted by precocious at 9:48 AM on October 28, 2001

one crazy novelist here.
denton, tx
posted by amandaudoff at 9:54 AM on October 28, 2001

Woohoo! Count me in on the acronym gravy train:

ABB, Orange, CA

I'm giddy with excitement. I've just completed the outline for my entry, which is tentatively titled "People Who Are Fond of Quoting Largish Passages of Shakespeare. Also: Chaucer." It's gonna be great.
posted by brookedel at 10:02 AM on October 28, 2001

I'm in.
posted by dogwelder at 10:08 AM on October 28, 2001

I'm in - Cambridge, MA

I'm sure I'll be much more heroic in the novelization of my life. Taller, too.
posted by jpbutler at 10:31 AM on October 28, 2001

I'm in - Nashville, TN.

I've got no idea what I'm going to write or how it's going to begin. Anyone else?
posted by tpoh.org at 11:12 AM on October 28, 2001

"Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, it was a dark and stormy night."
posted by precocious at 11:26 AM on October 28, 2001

I finished the first draft of my first novel on Labor Day, and I've been procrastinating on revising. my goal is to completely revise my novel during November.

[Lakewood, WA]
posted by epersonae at 11:29 AM on October 28, 2001

"It was a big lever but Ted had never refused a thick shaft before..."
That might do?
Okay I'm just going to register for this (do you hear me Rodii? A whole novel full of my lunatic ramblings!).
posted by davidgentle at 11:55 AM on October 28, 2001

Yup - here's another glutton for punishment. I have an idea, but I am not noted for my literary staying power.It's going to be pretty tough to be able to keep up the momentum and actually manage to write 50,000 words in a month.
posted by crustygeek at 12:05 PM on October 28, 2001

You're not the only one, crusty.

But! When all else fails, write. ANYTHING. The point of this is to make it to 200 pages of something that is vaguely coherent as a novel.

Which I think is neat. If it were a competition to write a novel that was publishable material, I wouldn'tve signed up.
posted by precocious at 12:17 PM on October 28, 2001

me, me!

eab, rural-ass new mexico.
posted by sugarfish at 12:39 PM on October 28, 2001

anybody going to the november 3rd party in nyc (click and scroll)?

swift, goneill, and i will all be there.
posted by gassire at 12:47 PM on October 28, 2001

I can't get out of SoCal for November, so I won't make the parties- unless someone wants to throw one in Santa Monica or something...

I've been writing ideas down for the past month. I think my whole book will take place during my lead character's drive to work.
posted by dogwelder at 1:03 PM on October 28, 2001

What if I write my dissertation in a month? Does that count?
posted by mecran01 at 1:18 PM on October 28, 2001

Is your dissertation a work of fiction?

Maybe you shouldn't answer that...
posted by dogwelder at 1:23 PM on October 28, 2001

It's an intentional double, I think.

Nope. Sorry, folks.
posted by rcade at 1:24 PM on October 28, 2001

I'm in Modesto, California, and will be writing a fictionalized family history.
posted by danec at 1:43 PM on October 28, 2001

I'm also in, here in Pittsburgh (don't think I'm listed on the webpage yet, though) and I'm taking a very un-new approach in that my novel will actually be told in the form of correspondence back and forth between the two main characters. Of course, on Thursday, the first day of writing, I'll be at yet another funeral for a family member, so I'm losing a day. I may have to cheat a tad and write a little on Wednesday night - death allows for a little leeway, doesn't it? No? Okay, I won't do it. Good thing I type fast.
posted by Dreama at 2:21 PM on October 28, 2001

I'm in also... Lawrenceville, New Jersey. I'm a full time student, and only a little scared.
posted by Shapiroa at 2:44 PM on October 28, 2001

I'm definitely doing it. I know that I have a prodigious talent for churning out crap, but now it's time to really put that talent to the test. Maybe those of us from MeFi who participate could use this thread as a sort of offisite club or lounge or something. Encourage each other and whatnot.

DJS, Los Angeles, CA
posted by Optamystic at 2:44 PM on October 28, 2001

Oh, and Dreama: Sorry to hear about your loss. :(
posted by Optamystic at 2:45 PM on October 28, 2001

I'm writing "The Battle for Central Park", told from the journal of a person kidnapped by squirrels to help set up their evil empire over the city.... the final battle will involve all the animals of central park, and very possibly the gators in the sewers.

Unfortunately, I will miss the NYC party on Nov. 3rd, as I'll be at a wedding in NC.
posted by meep at 2:56 PM on October 28, 2001

I'm not participating, not exactly. I'm working on expanding a short story of mine into a novel, so I'd consider that a "work in progress"; also, I want it to be a "classy, complex novel" and I "take [my] writing very seriously", so I'm pretty much completely disqualified.

But! I love the idea and the energy and the vibe of NaNoWriMo so much, I'm going ahead with it anyway, even if I can't officially sign up. I intend to have a finished novel by N30.
posted by webmutant at 3:27 PM on October 28, 2001

It was a dark and stormy night. Meanwhile, back in Kansas, a little boy was growing up....
posted by Oriole Adams at 3:29 PM on October 28, 2001

Well, since I've only barely managed to finish a few short stories, it'd be insane for me to try writing a novel, especially in a month.

So count me in, of course. Houston, TX.
posted by fidelity at 3:44 PM on October 28, 2001

Even if you do not finish, it would be fun to try. Count me in, Texas.
posted by bjgeiger at 4:09 PM on October 28, 2001

I'm in -- Las Vegas, NV.
posted by rushmc at 4:55 PM on October 28, 2001

Does it all come down to this, then?
To die?
In the rain?
My dick blown to Smithereens (a suburb of Fairfax) by a nameless sniper's hollowpoint?

I guess I'm out - I always get stuck here...
posted by Opus Dark at 5:46 PM on October 28, 2001

It was a gummi bear...
posted by y2karl at 5:52 PM on October 28, 2001

(David--great to hear from you!)
posted by rodii at 5:55 PM on October 28, 2001

Against everything logical, I'm in. Alberta, Canada.

Now I need a theme and a plot. Well, maybe.
posted by AdamJ at 6:05 PM on October 28, 2001

Alberta? Dear god, do you at least have the sense to be in Edmonton?
posted by aramaic at 6:29 PM on October 28, 2001

Edmonton? Ugh. That would mean I'd be obligated to see my niece and nephews more than once a year... ;-)
posted by AdamJ at 6:48 PM on October 28, 2001

Working Title,

The Ultimate Best-Selling Novel about Everything That Sells Best: A Humorous, Cross-Generational, Dramatic, Gothic Horror Love Mystery Featuring Vampires

Is that by any stretch of the imagination grammatically correct?
posted by precocious at 8:01 PM on October 28, 2001

Sounds good to me, Misty. I'm going with "A Completely Meaningless Exploration of the Meaningless Lives of Two Fictional Women: A Novel" It gives away a little more of the plot than I'd ordinarily like, but it's grown on me nevertheless.

And thanks for your thoughts, Optamystic.
posted by Dreama at 8:19 PM on October 28, 2001

I'm in - Scotts Valley, CA. "A Murder Most Asinine" is the working title.

Writing 50,000 words in a month? No problem! Writing 50,000 words in a month without simply hanging a digital GONE FISHIN' sign up on my website? Hrmm....
posted by youhas at 9:16 PM on October 28, 2001

My title: "Misery Loves February."
posted by dogwelder at 10:40 PM on October 28, 2001

I'm in.

I've talked five people into doing it, and I feel both guilty and powerful as a result.

The Seattle NaNoWriMo pre-party was fun, about 20 people showed up. I encourage participants everywhere to make this a social thing.
posted by dan_of_brainlog at 12:27 AM on October 29, 2001

I've always found this strange, long list of "How Tos" very stimulating for writing purposes. It's an extremely amateurish, badly written but well put together list of stereotypes with a high chuckle quotient and one or two home truths worth avoiding. It helps me revise and fine-tune my BS detector. And it reminds me of The Fall's immortal "How I Wrote Elastic Man".
A lot of MetaFilter types are an additional attraction. Sarcastic Lad, Decibel Dude, Vigilante Guy and Easily Discovered Man and Co. spring to mind. ;-)
Good writing, everyone! Well, not "good", actually. The best advice I ever got was get it down. Do nor re-read or re-write. Just produce a first draft. Leave the typos, the ellipses, all the rubbish. Writing only begins when you've got a big heap of printed paper to work with. The normal instinct for reading, going back, revising, criticizing and admiring what one's written - even thinking about it - is what prevents novels getting finished.
Even Kerouac's On The Road was heavily revised. That's all novel-writing is: revising. But you gotta have something to revise. A shapeless heap of shit is exactly what's needed as a first draft.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:38 AM on October 29, 2001

I'm in, in Baltimore. Lots of ideas, none of which sound even remotely like a novel. Figure I'll push as far as I can before I just say to hell with it and send in the Monkey Assasins with their Truncheons of Power.
posted by matt8313 at 5:17 AM on October 29, 2001

A shapeless heap of shit is exactly what's needed

I can DO that, I know I can!
posted by rushmc at 6:17 AM on October 29, 2001

If you folks can all be that brave, so can I. I'm in (NJ) & I haven't a clue what I'm going to write. I wish all of us the very best of luck. I make it 10 pages a day (at my usual word-count per page), what with taking weekends off. I'll panic later, if I have the time. ;)
posted by realjanetkagan at 6:34 AM on October 29, 2001

It's certainly worth a try. I'm in.

DW, New York, NY
posted by werty at 8:07 AM on October 29, 2001

I'm in. Random verbal hemorrhaging set to commence in three days and counting. Related items on today's "To Do" list: buy extra printer cartridges and 1 ream paper, stockpile house with caffiene and sugar. [Oakland, CA]
posted by mosspink at 8:57 AM on October 29, 2001

Heh, I signed up a bit ago, been really excited for a while.

Was dissapointed I couldn't post to the main page to talk about nano. (too new. *blush*) glad nano made it back on the radar.

Just think, in about a month, we'll have so many more novels. perhaps one of your very own.

Trying to get laundry and house cleaning done before the first, ocntemplating unplugging the tv...
posted by dreamling at 10:10 AM on October 29, 2001

Heh, I signed up a bit ago, been really excited for a while.

Was dissapointed I couldn't post to the main page to talk about nano. (too new. *blush*) glad nano made it back on the radar.

Just think, in about a month, we'll have so many more novels. perhaps one of your very own.

Trying to get laundry and house cleaning done before the first, ocntemplating unplugging the tv...
posted by dreamling at 10:10 AM on October 29, 2001

eep, a little too quick on the submit button, I aplogize for the double. :)
posted by dreamling at 10:11 AM on October 29, 2001

There's no way I can possibly do this, so of course I signed up. Any other Oregonians want to get together?
(Portland, OR)
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:23 AM on October 29, 2001

Sheeyit. WHY did you awful people just convince me to sign up? DAMN YOU ALL. This is going to really hurt. AAAAAAAA!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 12:51 PM on October 29, 2001

Miguel: do you do your "proper" writing with keyboard and screen, or pen and paper? I'm intrigued, as my style varies quite noticeably between the two. And I recall Donna Tartt telling a lecture audience in Oxford that she wrote in notebooks, and only did the final draft on the word processor, with a little Buddha perched on the monitor to ward away the uncreative spirits of technology.

(And no, I'm not signing up.)
posted by holgate at 2:36 PM on October 29, 2001

holgate: quickest is best for me. So it's keyboard and screen. My anxiety is actually finishing something and if I mess around and try to be all bellelettristic I never do. When I've got 200 pages printed I then start revising with a pen. Revising on screen is too easy; you tend to save, reorganise and generally cut-and-paste too much.

Notebooks are good for single sentences, titles, ideas and physical or otherwise objective impressions. But they're bottomless pits as well. I have hundreds and fool myself into thinking I'll go back to them when I'm all dried up, but I suspect I won't. Ideas have their time and place. The good ones stay in your head anyway. It's also distracting to have them by your side while you're writing as they make you cram too many "nuggets" into your pages, creating incongruities which are visible to all but you.

The thing is to just sit down for three hours a day(or three pages: both methods work) and force yourself. Not a minute or a word less. Just write. Do not reread. Do not go back. Just pile sentence on sentence, however awful they may seem. A trick which works is leaving your draft in mid-sentence, as it makes it easier to restart the next day.
Never fall victim to inspiration, unless it's overwhelming. This is very rare and should not be expected, else you become addicted to its ease.
Once you've got your 200 pages printed the novel already exists, buried somewhere. Then get out the pen and start adding and crossing out. I always use the actual limits of the sheet of paper as a guide. When nothing else can be scribbled onto it, then the second draft is ready.
Then I type it out on the keyboard - this is the best part, it is actually fun- adding little flourishes as a treat. Then I print everything out. That's my third draft.
Off again with the heap, pen in hand, to finish the final draft. Here you've got to force yourself not to go on tinkering. There's nothing wrong with writing a bad novel. It's only tough on the readers - I tell myself, though it's difficult to let go.
Final draft goes off to printers, knowing you've still got two chances with the proofs. Editors always improve your novel, no matter what is commonly said.
That's about it. I remember a recent PJ O'Rourke article about not using computers but it seems to cost $0.80 now. It's very good on the technical disadvantages of computers but otherwise unconvincing and predictably pro-IBM Selectric in an idolatrously Heming sort of way. Probably just about worth it.

The most - the only - important thing is producing that first pile of paper, your pre-novel. If you pause, look back, wonder whether the world needs another book, etc, you're doomed.

The worst thing that can happen - and almost inevitable unless you're a genius - is to produce, at the end of all this work, a shit novel. The second one, though, is much easier and usually better. 99% of writers have to write that first over-rich and over-ambitious novel before they start work on something actually publishable.
Reading bad first novels by writers who went on to great things is a surefire inspiration. Or facsimiles such as Ezra Pound's scribbles all over The Waste Land. Or writers' notebooks(Paul Valéry's and André Gide's are the best, John Cheever is good). But all this encourages time-wasting and mucking about too much.
Sorry for going on so much. (Nothing a writer likes more than giving advice he himself has difficulty taking - specially as it means he's not actually writing what he's supposed to ;-)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:25 AM on October 31, 2001

There's nothing wrong with writing a bad novel. It's only tough on the readers

That's brilliant. I think I'm going to post that over my monitor. Thanks.

(I also liked "bellelettristic"!)
posted by rushmc at 5:59 AM on October 31, 2001

Off-topic, but this has been driving me crazy.

There is a word. This word is used in reference to a person or article or book which utilizes "big" words unnecessarily; being pretentiously verbose.

I believe I've even seen it used here on MeFi. Any clue of what it is?
posted by precocious at 10:15 AM on October 31, 2001

sesquipedalian? It means a foot and a half long and is used to describe an over-fondness for long words.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:19 PM on October 31, 2001

I think that's it, actually.

And just in time. Writing has kicked off, and I'm 2113 words into the craziest endeavor of my life. How's everyone else doing?
posted by precocious at 10:35 PM on October 31, 2001

Count your words, for those who may need it. Cut and paste what you have so far, hit the button, and it will give you the word count in what I'm guessing is space-delimited calculation.
posted by precocious at 10:36 PM on October 31, 2001

Be warned, the word calculator linked above is prone to over-counting. A sentence of five words, none more than six letters each, repeated 60 times gave a result of 341 words. Oops.
posted by Dreama at 11:26 PM on October 31, 2001

I am experiencing a horrid fit of insomnia tonight...um, laissez les bons mots rouler? Ugh. Am suddenly delirious with too many ideas: Ceci n'est pas une pipedream. Am hoping this is all just a by-product of two nights of sleep deprivation/work stress, and praying that novel will NOT be riddled with bad multilingual puns. I mean, I haven't even begun with the Mandarin and Cantonese yet...

It's 2:30 a.m. Do you know where your plot is?
posted by mosspink at 2:29 AM on November 1, 2001

Weird. Thanks, Dreama!

Anyone else know of any good word-count programs?
posted by precocious at 9:45 AM on November 1, 2001

Miguel: With all due respect, I love my notebooks. When I decided to go for this madness, I leafed through a couple of oldies looking for some inspiration. In a notebook from '82-'83, I found a couple of characters and a plot that I'd completely forgotten. I ditched the idea when I read "American Hero" (movie: "Wag the Dog"), because he'd used the idea of a war all on video and he'd done it better than I could have. But when I looked at the characters again, I knew I still loved them and that gave me something to get started on.

Am I crazy or what?
posted by realjanetkagan at 1:46 PM on November 1, 2001

I've found the SFWA site useful for inspiration, too. So what if you're not writing science fiction or fantasy...? Writing is writing. For now, check out their "Writing: The Craft" articles. In mid-Dec, you can go back and read their "Writing: The Business" and "Writer Beware!" articles.

Oh, some of the "Writing: The Craft" articles are humor. Those are marked with an * for the humor-impaired. I'd be appalled at this, but, unfortunately, I know some sf writers who are unmistakeably humor-impaired. LOL!
posted by realjanetkagan at 2:04 PM on November 1, 2001

I'm doing it, although I'm not signed up (yet?); I was too late for the two-day-early sign-up deadline. Going great guns so far; over 2K words on the first day.

Word counting?

perl -e "print scalar split /\s+/, join ' ',<>"
posted by davidchess at 2:24 PM on November 1, 2001

Now in English, for the perl-impaired. ;)
posted by precocious at 3:04 PM on November 1, 2001

How's everyone doing? Only 2480 words after the first two days here....
posted by rushmc at 10:02 PM on November 2, 2001

rushmc: I suck. I have an entire outline sketched out, but I haven't written a word since because I've been so busy. I'm hoping to pick up the pace this weekend. Keep up the good (or dubious) work!
posted by mosspink at 12:53 AM on November 3, 2001

A full outline! I'm impressed with that! I wrote that 2480 words with no idea what my book was going to be about. I had to sit down today and decide (and have yet to write another word, though I think I'm ready now).

I think I liked it better before I knew what it was about....
posted by rushmc at 5:42 PM on November 3, 2001

This is too scary. Usually I do all my wholesale inventing before I even begin to write a novel...but in the past three days I've invented two sapient species, their respective languages and gestures, and a school of architecture *as I typed.* I'm still going, but I had to throw in a talking cat and several pages of food porn to stay on the word count. (Oh, I also usually spend a lot of time working on the names of my characters. This month I'm naming them with MeFite aliases, or anybody's name that happens to appeal to me from the NaNoWriMo sucker list. I'll go back and change 'em later, I promise.) Yikes! This is so...headlong! Hold my hand, somebody?!
posted by realjanetkagan at 9:32 PM on November 3, 2001

I think I liked it better before I knew what it was about....

Okay, I'm liking it better now that it's gelled more, but now I'm intimidated and don't know whether I can pull it off. 4145 words.

This month I'm naming them with MeFite aliases

Hey, can I be a lovable scamp who dates a member of each of your sapient species and is tastefully involved in the food porn scene? ::: grin :::

I dreamed of Orson Scott Card last night, but he left before I could ask him the question I've wanted to ask him for the past 10 years. sigh.
posted by rushmc at 7:59 AM on November 4, 2001

rushmc: Just keep writing, dammit. It's only words!

Full up on lovable scamps, but I've got an opening for the superb chef who serves up all the goodies. You're hired ;)

Write Scott via his publisher and ask him. Writers love street-mail, especially if it's flattering and contains an SASE for that question you want answered.
posted by realjanetkagan at 11:29 AM on November 4, 2001

Full up on lovable scamps, but I've got an opening for the superb chef who serves up...

Wow, you told me to "get cooking" both directly AND metaphorically! I am humbled by your talent and rush to comply.

You know, come to think of it, I'll bet there's a market for (and maybe a story in) escritorial dominatrices for wayward and reluctant scriveners.... ;)
posted by rushmc at 2:31 PM on November 4, 2001

End of Sunday count: 7132. I made my goal of 7000! Now, only 26 more days....
posted by rushmc at 8:33 PM on November 4, 2001

Count, end of Day Four: 10,914. I rule OK! I wonder when the plot will show up? Ah well, can't have everything! *8)

And I dunno how I'm gonna find time to write anything at all today...
posted by davidchess at 9:01 AM on November 5, 2001

rushmc: You're doing fabulously. :) Plot or no plot, it takes an awful lot of effort to commit ideas to words. Keep it up! I'm slowly making my way through the story. Funny enough, I'm actually not writing the parts chronologically. I'm hoping it will all make sense by the end of November when I string this puppy back together again.

realjanetkagan: I would like to audition my name for the character who is the purveyor of quality organic vegetables to your food porn chef. Hee.
posted by mosspink at 10:58 AM on November 5, 2001

food porn chef

::: waves his cleaver threateningly at mosspink and twirls his moustaches :::
posted by rushmc at 5:08 PM on November 5, 2001

"escritorial dominatrices for wayward and reluctant scriveners"
rushmc: Actually, they're called *editors* and, in my experience, at least, the male ones are easier on the nerves than the female ones ;)

mosspink: All the veggies on this world are naturally grown. Sorry, you'll have to settle for having the world that's the current headquarters of the League of Worlds named after you.

davidchess: Find time for a paragraph at least. I thought I'd scheduled this so I could take the weekend off but Sat I realized I was afraid to lose the impetus so I churned out a couple of pages Sat & a couple Sun. Good thing, too. I had three system crashes today but I'm still on schedule.

Go, guys, go!!!

P.S. Anybody heard anything from shapiroa? Yoo-hoo...! Come on, you can do it. We're all pulling for ALL of us to make it!
posted by realjanetkagan at 6:34 PM on November 5, 2001

Man, I really suck. 1722, but I like the idea I'm working on.

Mine's about a guy who's dead but doesn't realize it. Actually, he didn't ever know it because he wanted a new body and went for a rebirth already. Now what?
posted by zangpo at 11:32 AM on November 8, 2001

zangpo: So he's got a new body? Do his old friends recognize him? If not, what friends has he lost, what love must he win back? Is the new body the same gender as the previous one? the same sexual orientation? Just keep on writing and see how far you *can* get...
posted by realjanetkagan at 2:15 PM on November 8, 2001

Actually I'm getting down with some esoteric cells coming together cosmic iconic stuff so I can stretch out and foreshadow the decisions you're hinting at. This is fun. Thanks for keeping up the creative excitement :)
posted by zangpo at 2:40 PM on November 8, 2001

I fell off the wagon. 900 words over the past 3 days. :(
posted by rushmc at 10:39 PM on November 8, 2001

all right, everybody get behind rushmc and...*SHOVE*!

There ya, go, rushmc---you're back on the wagon. Now type!
posted by realjanetkagan at 6:52 AM on November 9, 2001

oof! Thanks, that helps. Only 1604 words today, but it's something. My kingdom for a plot and/or better characterization!!
posted by rushmc at 10:50 PM on November 9, 2001

oh yes, that last was my 1000th post...if only I could have all those words count toward my total!
posted by rushmc at 10:51 PM on November 9, 2001

1) boy meets girls (boy meets boy; girl meets girl; girl meets sapient alien....)
2) bildungsroman (kid grows up; coming of age)
3) serum to Nome (got to get something from here to there, over rough terrain, to prevent a disaster there)
4) "Enemy of the People" AKA "Jaws"
5) kitten on the window ledge (guy who's had a traumatic experience and can no longer walk high steel gets stuck on upper floor of hotel...and has to rescue a kitten from the window-ledge, thus restoring his ability to walk high steel)

Darn, there are two or three more... Maybe I'll think of them later. Heinlein claimed there were only five or six but I seem to remember we came up with seven.
posted by realjanetkagan at 8:36 AM on November 10, 2001

Well, I've got two of those, so maybe it's not as hopeless as it seems...it just seems to be lacking something.

So, the question I've been wanting to ask you pros for days is, when is a writer in a position to know whether what he is writing is boring or not? Is boring something that shows up early or can it only be determined after a substantial chunk of the book has been produced? I'm really good at determining this from a reader's point of view, but that approach doesn't seem to be working that well. Or maybe it IS working, and what I've written so far IS that boring. I'm willing to finish this book and have it be as dull as dishwater (and as bad as bad can be)--that's in the spirit of NaNoWriMo--but I'd just as soon not, if possible. I know I'll have plenty of opportunity to assess its BQ (boring quotient) after it's done, but surely I must maintain SOME awareness of it during the process as well? Opinions?
posted by rushmc at 6:18 PM on November 10, 2001

Also, I find it extremely ironic that I seem to be writing a book with many of the traits I have never liked in the books I have read. Am I mad? Wouldn't it be reasonable to expect that I would write the kind of book I have enjoyed MOST over the years??
posted by rushmc at 6:20 PM on November 10, 2001

Writers are lousy judges of their own work. That's why we were bedeviled with editors. One of the most boring books I *ever* read was the so-called "uncut" version of Stranger in a Strange Land. I was so astonished that I pulled out my copy of the original publication and I wound up doing a line-by-line comparison of the two. I learned how to make a boring draft exciting (or at least thoroughly readable) that day. I don't know if RAH did the cutting or his wife did or his editor did but every unnecessary word had been chopped out. When I get to the end of my NaNoWriMo, I will lay it aside for a few months to give myself some distance on it...and then I will attempt to channel whoever cut Stranger into a page-turner and a best-seller. If that means I chop to short-story length, so be it.

Don't worry about boring. Boring can be fixed later!

As for writing a book with traits you've never liked...? Hmm, maybe your subconscious just has to get all that crap out of its system before it gets down to what it considers serious business.

I'm running a fever and I should have stayed in bed all day but I didn't and you would not believe the boring crap I wrote this afternoon. No matter---I'm still on my goddam word count. Come spring, when the sap is rising, I'll rip out all the boring stuff and replace it with good stuff and special effects ;) !
posted by realjanetkagan at 8:09 PM on November 10, 2001

I'm still on my goddam word count.

You go, girl! I'm going to write 4,000 words tomorrow to try to catch up to near where I should be, and I don't care HOW crappy it is!
posted by rushmc at 9:48 PM on November 10, 2001

Passed the halfway point over the weekend, currently a tad over 27K. And smug as heck about it! *8)

For the WriMo, I'd strongly advise *not worrying* about whether it's good, whether it's boring, whether it's the kind of book you like to read. Worrying about that stuff you'll never get to 50K in 30 days; worrying about that stuff is the reason we so seldom write novels. The WriMo is (for me; of course everyone does their own, but this is how it is for me and what I'd advise others to try if it sounds useful) the WriMo is an excuse to turn off all the internal censors and quality checkers and worriers for just this one project, and see what it feels like to just *write* (or just *type*), flat-out, for a month.
posted by davidchess at 6:55 AM on November 13, 2001

Aye, davidchess, that must indeed be the way. Alas, my inner censor would not let go and has defeated me. I'm out. :(
posted by rushmc at 7:10 AM on November 13, 2001

For the WriMo, I'd strongly advise *not worrying* about whether it's good, whether it's boring, whether it's the kind of book you like to read.

Besides, boring is so relative. In fact, come to think of it, boring is literature. Bore away, rushmc. You're no good at it(at boring I mean, not writing)but, hey, you could try! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:17 PM on November 13, 2001

If I could, I'd sentence the whole lot of you to read slush-pile for an afternoon. You don't want to know what's found in the average slush pile on any given day. Mostly, a slush reader slaps a rejection letter on it and tries not to go home brain-damaged.

Any ms. by any MeFite found in the slush pile, however, would be automatically passed along to the editor for consideration. You all write in coherent English sentences---and you even have something to say! That puts you in a very different category than 99 percent of those other things in the slush pile.

Couldn't you guys go find yourselves a really really bad *published* book and read just enough of it to throw it to the ground and say, "Dammit, *I* can write better than that!"...and go and do so?
posted by realjanetkagan at 10:32 PM on November 13, 2001

realjanetkagan: If any MeFite wins this I think he or she should dedicate the published novel to you.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:09 AM on November 14, 2001

(I think "winning" NaNoWriMo consists solely of writing 50K words and sending them in to be wc'd. The NaNoWriMo folks don't AFAIK have any plans to select or publish or post (or even read!) any of the "winning" entries. I certainly plan to 'win', if it's possible to persuade them to run the wordcounter over your novel even if you didn't sign up in time. Approaching 30K...)
posted by davidchess at 5:49 AM on November 14, 2001

Miguel: "Winning" is nothing more than sitting on yer butt and churning out 50,000. It's nothing *less* than that either. The only way to write is to sit on yer butt and churn out words and that's yer first draft. *Second* draft is the REAL heart-breaker ;) but, then, you knew that.

Way ta go, davidchess. I broke 25,000 last night by inventing the library of my dreams and populating it with library cats and anarchist librarians (and guess where I got *that* idea :)
posted by realjanetkagan at 7:32 AM on November 14, 2001

I feel obliged to point out that Dagmar Chili has finished his/her/its/their November Novel, a very memorable work called Name.

Now that's writing with the censors turned off! Or something... *8)
posted by davidchess at 7:46 AM on November 15, 2001

davidchess: Wow, thanks for pointing out Name! I stand in awe of his/her/its/thingies talent/ability/mental aberration...! Do you suppose "Dagmar Chili" whipped up some sort of mini-program to pull words at random from esoteric webpages? I ask because, having read at random here and there in this wonder, I know it would take me a month to pull off a SINGLE PAGE that, uh, eclectic. I suspect him/her/it/thingie of cheating (in the nicest, most up-to-date way, of course)---and I admire the result. Note: next time you're at a loss as to what to write in YOUR NaNoWriMo, read a few lines of this and some word or phrase is almost guaranteed to strike sparks off the flinty rock of your own subconscious and get you going again!
posted by realjanetkagan at 9:25 PM on November 15, 2001

Plagiarist!! He dug through my trash bin after I fell out...that was my novel, word for word!

posted by rushmc at 9:46 PM on November 18, 2001

Miguel: Tonight I'm going into Manhattan for the Agents and Editors party (AKA the Mill and Swill ;)) the Science Fiction (and Fantasy) Writers of America throws every year at this time. This year, however, when everyone asks me what, if anything, I've been writing, I won't have to hang my head in shame and mumble something and then go hide in the coat closet. *This* year I'll be able to say I've written 36,000 words since Nov 1st and I'll let some agent fetch me a drink. I don't think I'll tell anybody how "dubious" this novel is, but if I get something publishable from the exercise, I'm dedicating it to all the MeFites and the NaNoWriMos who got me writing again.

Remember, you don't have to get it published to win NaNoWriMo---you just have to put 50,000 words on paper. Given the horrific writer's block I've had these last few years, I've *already* won. But it sure helps to have so many other people suffering along with me!
posted by realjanetkagan at 12:15 PM on November 19, 2001

« Older The MetaFilter Proposal   |   Head of Red Cross "resigns" Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments