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Tuesday, November 9, 2010


November is National Novel Writing Month. We have several regulars who are participating, and I thought I'd interview them about their efforts. Here's the first installment by Al Davis.

Is this your first NaNo? How many have you done? How many have you won?

This is my SIXTH Nano, after five miserable failures...see my Friday Challenge article "Glutton for Punishment" last year for full details. And note that those five failures so far total nearly a hundred thousand words of partially completed stories...words that never would have made it out of my brain were it not for Nano.

So, "miserable failure" is a relative term with a big chunk of partial success in it.

How did you first learn about NaNo?

My then-girlfriend. She had done it before we met, and suggested I would like it; she was right, I was hooked. On Nano...and on her...I married her a year or two later.

What's your story about for this NaNo?

This year? "Bloodmage." Call it "Elf Noir." Drunk down-and-out private detective, hired to find missing girl, with no clue what he's getting himself into, as he starts getting warned off the case by a Bloodmage and attacked by manticores and dragons and stuff out of a Hellboy-esque nightmare...

How did you come up with that story?

Two weeks before Nov 1, I had this thought...fairy-tale rip-off. Princess trapped in a curse or cage, and the only person who could unlock it was her true love. Well...what if that true love was the kid she fell for when she was 15 in high school, and daddy disapproved, and not only split them apart but wiped their memories to boot...? That would mean no one could rescue her, and the detective was on this grand and glorious quest for his one true love while thinking he was getting paid for a simple case...

...and that idea started defining the character of the detective. With that chunk forcefully removed from his life, he's in his forties, drunk, with two failed marriages under his belt and no drive or determination to get anywhere...and all the clues to the girl's whereabouts strangely seem to turn back around towards himself...

Do you intend to finish the novel, or are you using it more as an exercise?

...who ever starts a Nano without intending to finish it...? *grin*

What do you like about NaNo?

Nano is my excuse to give myself writing time. Normally I make excuses to NOT write...too busy, this has higher priority, that needs done, "First Rule"...Nano gives me a reason to boost my writing's priority up nearer the top of the scale.

Also...it hopefully drives home the "write something every day" habit that I need. I try to carry it on through the rest of the year, but other stuff always seems to interfere...

How do you compete in NaNo and not lose your mind?

Um...dunno, I think it's already lost.

Anything else for the hobbitses (and hirsute elves)?

Don't give up. Every word in your Nano is a word that might never have made it to paper otherwise.

I missed last year. I "failed."

But...I have a 45k word novella rough draft, with a couple of really funny scenes and a couple of really intense fight scenes, a half dozen well-fleshed out characters, a couple of concepts that could do well standing on their own, and even if this novel never went anywhere, a world in which to place more stories mapped out in my head.

Not only did I write a 45k novella in a month...there were twelve days during that month that I didn't get a single word out, because I was too stressed out over the broken-down car--and the likely loss of my job because of it--to focus on Nano. So, to put it in even more perspective, I wrote two halves of a 45k novella in a little over a week each, with nearly a two week break between the two.

...if that's a "failure" then I'll happily accept a few more of them, because it proves I really can write when I set my mind to it.

So can you.

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