No, this isn’t some strange gobbledygook. It stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it runs November 1-30.
The goal is to write 50,000 of your novel during this month. It doesn’t have to be good, it’s all about quantity. You can go back later and clean it up.
Since I have a love of reading, I think the urge to write came naturally. I’ve written little stories ever since I could remember. Sadly, except for a couple of school publications, I have nothing to hang my hat on.
Last year I decided to try something new. Rather than trying to start at the beginning, writing through to the end, then stopping, I started writing what I call “snippets.” These are basically jigsaw pieces that I can fit together later. It takes the pressure off of writer’s block, because I can just move on to another snippet. I’ve found my foreshadowing is improving and the story seems to be coalescing.
I don’t think I’ll hit 50,000 words this month. Work, home, and the gym take up chunks of my time. But I am committed to spending more time with my characters, to see if I have something worth editing by the time I’m through.
I’ve included a “snippet,” from a novel I’m calling Nameless for now, although I’m sure that will change. I’m not happy with my opening either…rather dull. Still, by working on pieces rather than the whole thing at once, I can go back and switch things up or around or out. It’s like playing with Legos.
She was nine when her grandmother came down with winter fever. Her mother told her she was ready, and she spent a week nursing her grandmother with salves and detoctions, making her comfortable, cleaning her, feeding her broth and bread. Her mother stood in the doorway of her grandmother’s room, saying nothing, watching.
Nyondele knew enough not to ask for advice. This was the test. If her grandmother survived, she would begin to learn the secret magic of the Shadow Witches, the potions that maimed and killed and burned and froze and destroyed. If her grandmother died, her younger sister Nandalia would learn the Shadow Witch ways. She would only advance to Whisper Witch, respected, but not nearly as much as a Shadow Witch. It was her mother’s dream both of her daughters would be Shadow Witches.
Her grandmother, a Shadow Witch herself, knew the consequences of submitting her health to a child. But going back seven generations, the Witches knew and learned and gathered more knowledge, and she had faith in her daughter’s ability to teach her granddaughter. In any event, all Shadow Witches had to submit themselves to the ministrations of an apprentice, affectionately known as a Root Witchling. It was the test that proved who could learn and who could not. She was willing to die to prevent an unqualified Root Witchling from advancing.
Her grandmother survived. Nyondele had been experimenting with a different concentration of firethorn root, and was able to provide relief to her grandmother’s frozen joints in addition to curing her winter fever Her grandmother nodded to her mother as Nyondele rubbed the ointment into her grandmother’s gnarled hands, more flexible now than three moons ago. This one was ready.