National Novel Writing Month is upon us once again – really, given that it attracts people from outside the US, ‘International’ Novel Writing Month.
It’s well worth the challenge. Writing is about an awful lot more than just words-to-time – in the business, word length is a device for defining scale, but it is not an end in itself. What counts more is the structure, the styling, and the nature of the content within that scale. The ability to meet all the intangible criteria needed for a great book, within a specified scale – and to produce that content in a certain time is an essential skill if you want to turn pro.
That’s why I’ve always said that NaNoWriMo – and, for that matter, any writing – should always push for the highest possible quality, irrespective.
The way to do it, as we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, is to plan the book out, starting with a logline – but leaving room for ‘seat-of-the-pants’ creativity around the main structure. The blend is essential. Check back on the earlier posts for more details.
So there you are, November’s looming and you’re got the plan. The word processor is fired up. You get read to type and – nothing.
Stuck on the first sentence.
Don’t panic. It’s normal. The first sentence is the most important sentence in any book. It has to grip the reader. It has to draw them in – and the next few sentences have to do the same. Getting the structure of the first paragraphs right is critical.
But this is NaNoWriMo – or you have a deadline, or whatever. You can’t waste time sitting there waiting for the muse.
The way around it is to look back at your general plan and start writing a few paragraphs in. Get into the flow of it. I figure you’ll soon have some ideas for some great wording for the opening sequence. Go back and do it. And after a while, when you’ve written some more, you might think of some better ones. In which case you can amend the start to suit.
Word processors make that sort of thing a snap. And you keep writing meanwhile – which is the essence not just of NaNoWriMo but of all professional writing.
Are you going for National Novel Writing Month? Or do you have a project on the go anyway? I’d love to hear from you.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013
Coming up this week: More NaNoWriMo tips, I pose the question – can dyslexics become great writers, like Agatha Christie? Halloween fun – and more…