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Nanowrimo 2015

| writing nanowrimo

Doing Nanowrimo again this year. A friend had challenged me to a Nanowrimo tontine, in which everyone puts in a quantity of money, and everyone who finishes gets to take out of the pot. So, it’s like a tontine but hopefully less likely to engender cunning murder plots, and the inherent competition / challenge was enough to get me to sign up.

This is my third time around, and I’ve got this to a more-or-less repeatable process, at least for the way I write and my particular strengths. In talking with other Nanowrimoers it is apparent that a room of ten writers will have at least 11 different creative approaches. For me, it is critical to plot out the basics. It doesn’t have to be overly elaborate, but even just having some internal visualization of the internal scenes will help immensely, because I can just write the connecting events between one scene and another. It might not even need to be a scene, it can be as minor as the next critical clue or the killer line of dialog.

Mechanically, I have one big text file where I keep the novel, one line per paragraph, along with a separate org-mode file where I keep a bunch of notes, possible chapters, cool character names, so on and so forth. When I’m writing, I only use flyspell-mode and visual-line-mode. The file is in markdown format, but I run it through a preprocessor that converts some silly little things for me, for example:

  • any line starting with “Chapter” turns into \\newpage + # Title.
  • any *** on a single line gets converted to \\scenebreak

Anyway, that converted file is passed to pandoc, which then creates a PDF via Latex. It’s not an amazing process, but it’s simple, and I can check everything into git, and the process of writing is very quick, and can even be done in a spare SSH terminal if I have a couple of moments. (Plus, I can use git reconciliation and merging to actually work on different bits of the novel on different machines without worrying about losing stuff).

At any rate, this year I was playing nursemaid for someone that had the flu, so I managed to get a lot of writing in, and am currently projected to hit 50k on the 20th, if everything goes as it has.

The novel is… okayish, a fantasy potboiler along the lines of Steven Brust’s Taltos series. Wait, you haven’t read this series? Go forth and read it, they’re great. Like previous years, it has some decently strong sections where I was somehow inspired, and many more weakish ones – but at this point the raw word count is the only thing that matters. I’ll fix it in the post-edit.

As always, Nanowrimo is highly recommended, if you’ve ever fancied yourself a writer. You get a support group, cheering, free coffee, interesting yet non-judgmental people, and you may end up with your very own novel at the end.

Updated 2015-11-28: Finished! Needs a lot of edits, though.


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