Bastrop Daily Enterprise - Bastrop, LA
  • National Novel Writer’s Month offers chance to achieve

  • The Rules:- While outlines and character ideas are encouraged, prose cannot be written until 12:00:01 a.m. local time Nov. 1.- To win, writers must complete 50,000 words by Nov. 30.- No, it can’t be the same word 50,000 times.- All novels mus...
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  • For some, the idea of writing a novel “someday” is very appealing, calling to mind a long period of isolation, research, and contemplation that leads to The Great American Novel. National Novel Writing Month, commonly known as NaNoWriMo, is not for those people.
    During NaNoWriMo, participants challenge themselves to write a full novel, or 50,000 words between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. There is no prize, said one of the NaNoWriMo founders, Chris Baty, other than the satisfaction of achieving an ambitious goal.
    “It feels like nothing else,” Baty said. “Writing a book, whether you publish it or bury it in the back yard, it does a really great thing for your imagination.”
    Baty said he and a group of good friends “decided to spend a month writing horrible novels. They met after work for a month and made it a social event.
    “We all ended up astonished at how fun novel writing ended up being, and we were equally surprised at how a 30-day deadline actually improved our writing,” Baty said. “The books we wrote that year were really bad but not horrible.”
    What started with 21 people taking “an over-caffeinated dare” has blossomed into a worldwide event. More than 100,000 people from 80 countries participated last year. Baty said they expect even more people to register in 2008.
    Since NaNoWriMo’s inception, only 26 authors have sold their 30-day novels.
    “That was really not something I ever anticipated back in 1999,” Baty said.
    The most notable of these became a New York Times number one bestseller, Sarah Gruen’s “Water for Elephants.” The novel chronicles a young man’s three months with a traveling circus.
    Currently, Baty said approximately 80 percent of those who participate are book lovers, but about 20 percent are either die-hard novelists or professionals doing it for fun or challenge.
    “It’s something that you do once, and you discover that you don’t only have one book in you, but a dozen in you,” Baty said. “A light bulb goes off.”
    He noted that breaking a novel down into a daily word count makes a large piece of work more manageable and less scary.
    “If you love books, you should write one,” Baty said. “People are really amazed at what comes out. My advice would be to give it a shot.”
    NaNoWriMo also has a young writer’s group, which allows writers younger than 12 years old to set their own word counts.
    “To an 8 year-old, 1,000 may be an epic,” Baty noted.
    Anyone interested can find more information at NaNoWriMo.org. Participants must be at least 13 to sign up at the general site, and separate forums are available for the NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program at http://ywp.nanowrimo.org.