Those of you who have been around for a while have seen mention of NaNoWriMo before; it’s something I spend every November doing. Here’s the deal: during the thirty days of November a whole bunch of folks set aside the useful and productive activities they would otherwise be doing and instead they crank out a novel. This is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. I will be participating for my eighth consecutive year, and this year my story will be particularly silly. More on that in a bit.
NaNoWriMo is a pretty popular pursuit these days, with tens of thousands of participants and a host of other lurkers and hangers-on. Best-selling authors write pep talks for the struggling masses, and the message forums are choked with celebration and cries of agony.
Today I logged in at the NaNoWriMo web site for the first time this year, checked for a couple of the names I’ve seen over the years, and generally got my bearings. There was a time in years past that I spent a lot of time on the message boards but not so much anymore. It’s just… too big. Lots of people trying to find new ways to say, “boy aren’t we all so crazy!” The answer is no, you’re not crazy. NaNoWriMo is not crazy, insane, or even particularly difficult. Almost anyone in the US could easily write 50,000 words in a month if they stopped watching TV. No other sacrifice need be made. (Oddly, most of the people I hang out with are exceptions to this rule.)
So it’s not crazy, not insane, not masochistic, nor any other adjective that implies that accomplishing this goal is particularly punishing. In fact, it’s pretty damn fun. No, the people who perform this feat deserve your undying admiration for another reason. Or maybe three.
- They are being creative. Rather than switch their brains off when they get home from school or work, they are switching them on. This can be habit-forming.
- They are committing to something outside their usual routine. Consistency is the key to success and it takes a special kind of commitment to do something outside your comfort zone. This can be habit-forming.
- They are making something. It may suck, but the balance of human endeavor will be tipped just a little more towards “worthwhile”. They are producing rather than consuming. What have you added to humanity’s list of accomplishments lately?
It is even less of an accomplishment when I succeed at NaNoWriMo – I sit down to write every day as it is. Those habits I mention in the list above have served me well for eight years now.
So all of that has nothing to do with what I intended to tell you guys today, but one thing you learn during NaNoWriMo that has served me well ever since is that one should never (well, almost never) stop yourself from writing. You can always delete it later. The title of this blog gives me the right – no, the responsibility – to just ramble on. Anyway, on with the actual point of all this.
On the site I updated my personal information (though I left my age at zero – that appealed to me somehow). There is one section of the profile that is about what you’re writing. Right now I’m leaning toward The Quest for the Important Thing to Defeat the Evil Guy, inspired by a blog episode I posted some time ago. I won’t use any of that in the NaNoWriMo effort – that would be cheating, and I need to start differently anyway (and the blog episode really isn’t very good). However, the idea is there.
Of course I’m not allowed to start on the endeavor until November 1st, but there was a section to enter a brief synopsis of the story. Here’s what I wrote:
Bixby is a simple farm boy, but he’s good with an ax and doesn’t ask too many questions. His brawny physique strikes fear in the hearts of Evil-Doers and Nasty People, and a pitter-pat in the bosoms of Fair Ladies (and unfair ones, as well). He adopts Kitty, a black cat who turns out to be an evil sorceress in disguise. She hates the name, but she does like curling up in Bixby’s lap.
Princess Skoda is a strong-willed young lady who is accustomed to getting what she wants. Though she may seem like scantily-clad fluff, she is in fact a scantily-clad expert on the history and lore of the Important Thing. Her pouting skills will get the group out of many a close scrape – if they don’t kill her first.
Chavdar makes up for his diminutive stature with his big mouth. A veteran of many improbable campaigns, Chavdar knows what he wants out of life, but Skoda won’t let him have it. He won’t even consider asking Lada.
Lada the Huntress is an elf maiden whose skill with a bow is unmatched. She’s not too bad with knife, sword, club, machete, brass knuckles or small bits of string, either. Like all elves she is terribly shy, and would rather kill people than try to talk to them. She’s especially dangerous when it’s that time of the century, if you know what I mean.
Trabant the Immutable is a powerful wizard who can warp the very fabric of space and time, and make the universe do his bidding. This leaves very few brain cells for everyday life, however. It may be that he’s fought one Balrog too many…
No one is quite sure why John the Smith is in the party, but it’s bound to be a big surprise when his true identity is revealed at some critical juncture.
Finally, there is Evil Guy. He’s trying to take over the world. Or destroy it. Or something. If he gets his hands on the Important Thing, there will be no stopping him.
Mysterious Forces and Evil Forebodings abound, Great Danger lurks, and the Evil Guy wants the Important Thing. Will this misfit band of adventurers be able to set aside their old rivalries and perform this Quest?
I added to the synopsis after I first pasted it in here. But just look at that! How can one possibly not be excited about writing TQITDEG? So I was pretty darn ready for November to start. But then, then, came the part of the Novel Info section that got me even more excited than ever, a part which I have no skill to execute. This year there’s a place to upload cover art! Holy carp on a cracker that would be cool – I mean, what better than a racy fantasy adventure parody for a great cover? A big strapping guy, some kind of little funny-looking sidekick, a scantily-clad princess, a scantily-clad evil temptress, a scantily-clad elf hottie, a dark wizard, and any variety of odd, deformed creatures. In the background a castle or a spaceship or whatever’s handy.
So here’s my challenge to you, dear readers, and your chance to challenge me. If you draw me a cover that even remotely resembles TQITDEG as synopsized (go to my profile page for the latest), I will include all your cover elements in the story, no matter how outlandish they are.
Bonus points if you can identify the theme for many of the names above without using Google. I think John the Smith’s name might really be Zaz. Kitty’s real name could be Dacia.