NaNo what?! NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. Or as others know it, November. November is a time when many budding and established writers get together and attempt to write an entire 50,000-word novel in one month, because, well, they love torturing themselves.
It’s also a great way to learn the discipline of daily writing. In NaNoWriMo, the quality of the end product isn’t the important part, it’s the taking part that counts. The aim is to get through the first draft of that novel you’ve been wanting to write for years but forcing you to write a large number of words in a short period of time, therefore silencing your inner editor and allowing your brain to work through plot, structure and character building. What you’re left with is a pile of mostly weak words, with some useable sentences in between, and a draft of an outline for a novel you hope to improve in its second draft. So how useful is NaNoWriMo for all those budding writers out there?
Quality writing VS Quantity of writing
The copywriter in me says always use the minimum amount of words to explain something well. I, like many, have found myself tackling NaNoWriMo in the past by making my sentences as long and wordy as possible just to hit my final word count. I’m sure that many participants will agree with me when I say that what you end up writing in NaNoWriMo is not the finest work, in fact, most of it is probably complete jibberish. But, like all good artists, you need a canvas to work with and a filled page is easier to edit than a blank page.
While speeding through writing a novel in a month does not produce expert writing, it does produce a hoard full of new novels, many of which go on to be published or self-published. Its immediate effect is the quantity of writing but the after effect is quality if you continue to work really hard on your new novel.
(Next weeks blog will focus on how to edit your novel once you have your full word count! Watch this space).
How to plan good writing
Having a solid plan in place before you start your novel can help improve the quality of your writing. Think about what you want to say and why, and equally what you don’t want to say. I don’t recommend over planning your novel but then it depends on your working style. I like to plan a brief outline to the story events and map out some of the key components of the backstory that help me write the story. I sometimes make notes about character relationships, issues and motives. The rest I figure out as I go along, but it helps me keep my story focused if I pre-plan at least a little of what I want to say.
Here are some top writing planning tools that I sometimes use:
- How to write a novel using the snowflake method
- NaNo Prep Webcast with author Jack Gantos: Watch the recording!
- Ten steps to planning a novel
- A plot structure template
What do you think? Does Nanowrimo produce good writing? What is good writing? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
If you’re thinking of taking part in National Novel Writing Month it’s not too late! Sign up for free and find your local groups here. You don’t need to be physically near a group to take part. That’s the beauty of NaNoWriMo.
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