This time of the year now has extra meaning for me. It used to be that I could just watch October 31 go past at a comfortable distance. Hallowe’en is not, after all, celebrated in suburban Australia in anywhere near the extent or fashion that is in the USA. Mind you, I still liked the American sitcoms that had Hallowe’en episodes. The fact the scares were on the other side of the screen helped.
These days, however, October 31 represents the day before NaNoWriMo starts! Which is nearly as scary but in a really different way. Instead of ghosts and ghouls, it’s the prospect of writing fifty thousand words in thirty days. Instead of spooky decorations and trick-or-treat, it’s writing guides and write-ins. And meeting new people! It can be easy to forget when going to a write-in that most of the other people there are probably just as introverted as you and may not know anyone either.
But that’s just frippery: The real purpose is to write.
Planning or not.
Well, that’s the idea, anyway.
The ebook landscape has changed somewhat since I last blogged about it. And yet at the same time not a lot has changed.
I don’t buy many ebooks. In fact, I don’t buy many books, but even so, most of my purchases in the last year have still been physical books. Part of the reason is that I’m still getting used to the experience of reading on a device, rather than reading a physical book. The other thing is that I never bought into Amazon’s ebook kingdom. This is where you read ebooks on an Amazon Kindle, you buy ebooks on Amazon’s web site and you forget all about ebooks outside this walled garden.
Recent events show why this business model has deep flaws for end-users.
If you don’t have any writerly friends, you might have missed the news that National Novel Writing Month is about to roll around again. (In all honesty, it should be called International Novel Writing Month because it is worldwide. Maybe “IntNoWriMo” doesn’t roll off the tongue as readily as “NaNoWriMo“.) The idea is to write fifty thousand words of fiction in thirty days. This is not easy, but it’s not impossible either. It means averaging just under seventeen hundred words a day. And how much is fifty thousand words? In a world where we look in terms of page count, this can be difficult to answer. I’m told that Douglas Adam’s novel “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” is about fifty thousand words. My early edition paperback is about one centimetre thick.
But NaNoWriMo is not a time for me to try to write a novel. For me at least, it’s a period to re-connect with why my writing group got together. I’m not going to not write, but I’m not going to do the madness of starting a story on November 1 and try to best fifty thousand words before December 1. And the reason is because of how I write my stories.
As I write this, the latest episode of Doctor Who, “Angels Take Manhattan”, has now aired not only in its home country of Britain, but in the US and also on Australian TV. If you haven’t seen it yet and are intending to, stop reading. There May Be Spoilers.
That said, I would say it was a good episode. The most important thing that happened in it was that it was the last episode for The Doctor’s companions Amy and Rory. At least on that point it sorted out how they would leave The Doctor in a reasonably original way. But there was really no other way to do it.
So you’ve got a setting in mind, the first characters have presented themselves and the first scene is starting to write itself. Now you begin to wonder where things are going to go and quite how they’re get there!
And that’s a problem. Have you forgotten how to structure a story? The thing to do at this point is to look at the framework of your story. And it is a story, make no mistake. So what are you trying to tell?