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Monday, November 2, 2009


This month offers the perfect opportunity for my MLC reference blog debut since November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and writing is a life lifelong passion of mine. If writing is one of your passions, too, or if you’ve always wanted to write, NaNoWriMo is the perfect time to dive in. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight November 30. This is supposed to be more of a personal challenge than anything else, but there are the rules from the official NaNoWriMo website:

- Write a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and November 30. And no – writing the same word repeated 50,000 times doesn’t count. Be original!

- You have to start from scratch. You can’t use any prose you wrote before November 1. You can, however, use material such as outlines, character sketches, plot notes, and research that you’ve previously compiled.

- Your finished work must be a novel – it has to be a lengthy work of fiction.

- Your novel must be the product of your own work – no writing teams allowed.

- Upload your novel to the NaNoWriMo website between November 25 and November 30 for word count validation.

And that’s all there is to it! If you submit your novel in time, and it meets the word count requirement, you’ll be considered a “winner,” and you’ll get an official web badge, a PDF winner’s certificate, and bragging rights. Oh yeah, and the best prize of all is that completed manuscript you’ve spent the last 30 days toiling over.

If all this sounds like fun to you, and you’re already bursting with ideas and motivation, hop to it! Channel your inner Faulkner, and let the words flow. If, on the other hand, you have no idea how to get this process started, keep reading. There are plenty of resources out there to help you crank out your novel. Help is on the way!

We have some great resources for all kinds of fiction writers here in our collection. For those writers who seek general advice and tips, have a look at The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall. Marshall outlines a 16-step program for turning your idea into a finished manuscript. You might also want to look at Novel Voices by Jennifer Levasseur, who gathers advice from several award-winning novelists on writing, editing, and getting published. There’s also Write Right!: Creative Writing Using Storytelling Techniques by Kendall F. Haven. I’ve heard it said that if you can speak or tell a story, you can write; Haven tells you how. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could try to sell your novel. R. Karl Largent offers some advice about this in his book How to Write and Sell Your Novel.

In addition to the titles I’ve just mentioned, we have several books tailored toward assisting writers with specific interests, including religious fiction, romances, mysteries, and science fiction.

Another great writer’s resource too valuable not to mention is the official NaNoWriMo website. This site has all kinds of goodies for writers. Be sure to check out the discussion forums for tips and strategies, helpful writing resources, and good old support and motivation from other NaNoWriMo writers.

So, there you go – NaNoWriMo in a nutshell. If you finish your novel by November 30, kudos! If you don’t, that’s cool, too. Maybe you’ll finish if you try again next year. Until then, don’t beat yourself up over it. December is NaNoFiMo – National Novel Finishing Month. And after you’re finished writing, you could take the next step and participate in NaNoEdMo – National Novel Editing Month, which takes place in March. You can polish your manuscript, and then who knows? You never know what could happen next.

It all starts with word number 1 out of 50,000.

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