August NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing  Month. It usually occurs in November, but since last year, the team behind NaNoWriMo have begun holding writing months in the summer as well. This year, NaNoWriMo is happening in June, August, and November.

NaNoWriMo requires one to write 50,000 words of fiction in one month. I believe Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is about that length. It is a very difficult climb, at least for me. I have participated twice already, not counting this month, and I have not completed the challenge once.

This activity lowers your expectations of yourself–instead of requiring yourself to write “bestseller material”, you aim for “will not make readers vomit”. However, I’ve discovered, this doesn’t lower the quality of writing produced significantly.

I would recommend it for any writers. It is fun, and perhaps you can learn something along the way. At any rate, you will get bragging rights at the end. For more information, go to campnanowrimo.org.

Word count so far: 3, 300

 

 

Code (don’t mind this, this is for a blog directory): 5QNANJGJR8UY

 

 

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How many characters do you really need?

So you’ve got your protagonist. And your antagonist. And your protagonist’s best friend. And your protagonist’s girlfriend. And your protagonist’s best friend’s girlfriend. And your protagonist’s best friend’s girlfriend’s cat. And your antagonist’s brother. And your antagonist’ brother’s girlfriend… You get the idea.

Do you really need 99 different characters, most who only play a tiny part in one scene, all who must be tracked throughout revisions with “Did I change that eye color/hair color/name/spelling/age/gender etc.?!!?”

No. Your story needs maybe a handful of characters who the reader will care about, characters who will earn the reader’s love or hatred, who will enrich the story from start to finish and enthrall readers.

An example of this unfortunate occurrence is the bestselling Warriors series, which is about wild cats. Don’t get me wrong, I love these books. But there are way too many characters–around sixty is my estimate. There’s an important character whose eye color changes three times throughout the books. There’s a minor character who changes from male to female. Um, okay, but I’m pretty sure sex reassignment surgery hasn’t been developed for cats yet.

You will think of new characters all the time. That doesn’t mean they’re automatically the next big thing that will spice up your story. Before letting them join in, make sure they belong there.