Thursday, November 21, 2013

Would Shakespeare like NaNoWriMo?

I admit I don’t get it.

It’s not my – get ready for a tired metaphor – cup of tea.

This month is NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing Month.

Fellow writers on Facebook are busy writing thousands of words a day trying to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of Nov. 30.

Posts keep appearing on my timeline:

·         Wrote 4,331 words over the weekend;

·         Managed 1,133 words today;

·         My cat is sick; going to have to give up NaNoWriMo this year.

Back in 2008 a writer friend of mine who lives in Oregon asked me if I planned to participate in National Novel Writing Month.

I told her no. Five years ago I needed to finish up The Emperor’s Mistress and line up a literary agent to open doors to big-name publishers. Boy was I naïveté.

While not as naïveté today, I remain a skeptic of NaNoWriMo. That’s because I put a great deal of time and effort in a first draft. For me, an intense revision and editing process is a major portion of a first draft. Writing the initial draft is 40 percent writing the scenes and 60 percent sweat-and-blood editing.

NaNoWriMo writers are spewing forth the scenes’ sentences without a thought to editing and polishing the chapters. I fear many of them end up doing complete rewrites.

Write, write, write ... don't worry about editing. 
It takes careful thought to weave in description so that it blends with the narrative and dialogue and doesn’t turn into big info-dumps.

Hard decisions have to be made on how you approach a scene: should you “show” the action or resort to tried-and-true “telling?”

Strategy falls by the wayside when the primary objective is word count.

Even before National Novel Writing Month, some writers on Facebook were bragging about the number of words they managed to write each day. That makes me cringe. Autoworkers should brag about the number the number of cars that roll off the assembly line. Writers shouldn’t be bragging about the words rolling off their laptops or tablets … creative writing shouldn’t be assembly line writing.

It was a dark and stormy ...
The National Novel Writing Month organizers claim more than 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator. So that means the NaNoWriMo method works for some authors, just not for me.

National Novel Writing Month is 14 years old. It’s a 501(c) (3). This year 304,026 writers are participating. Merchandise sales, donations by participants and sponsors fund NaNoWriMo.
So let me conclude … all you NaNoWriMo writers out there … you had better hurry … only eight days left to write your 50,000-word romance novel. Forget baths, forget eating, forget sex, pound the keyboard … faster, faster, faster.