Coffee Helps: The Novel?

Throughout the month of November, I shall be setting out to do one of the things that would have been near the top of my Things To Do Before I’m 30 list, if I had such a list, which I don’t. From November 1st-30th, I’m going to be writing a novel. In its entirety. In one month. If blog posts become few and far between, you’ll know why.

As crazy as this undertaking may sound, I’m not alone in my madness. November is National Novel Writing Month, where everyone who has ever dreamt of writing a novel and said “One day…” is encouraged to finally sit down, set a deadline, and just write. Write and write and write towards a goal of 50,000 words. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a plot worked out, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got a clue what the ending is, it doesn’t matter if everything you write is pure, undiluted tripe. “It’s about quantity, not quality,” says the NaNoWriMo website; the idea is that by lowering the standards, you’re more likely to go for it and get it done without spinning around in circles (as I’ve been doing for the past year or two), certain that there’s a novel in there somewhere but with no idea where to start or how to go about it, and stopping after every paragraph to review your text in an angsty, critical way that ends with you hitting delete and starting all over again.

With the NaNoWriMo project, you just write. At 50,000 words, they recognise your achievement and list you as a novelist. You’ve done it! This is precisely the sort of encouragement I need – the knowledge that I can, in fact, write an entire novel within a short period of time. That’s what I need in order to be motivated enough to start in the first place: the knowledge that I’ll be finished in a few weeks and not still flapping around in a disorganised mess 5 years later, with one chapter perfected.

Of course, it’s most likely that what you’ll end up with is 50,000 words of genuine rubbish. This does not matter. I mean, somewhere in the midst of that, a story’s bound to take shape, isn’t it? A plot is certain to materialise, characters will appear, something has to happen, right? So my theory is that at the end of the month I’ll have a novel that I’ll never want to let anyone read, let alone show to a publisher. But I’ll have a novel, all the same. Which will make it much easier, come December, to say “OK, time to think about writing my second novel. And this one’s going to be published next year.”. I’ll go back over my manuscript, pick out the decent bits, and do it properly, no longer starting from scratch but with a proper story in place.

I realise that this is a mammoth project, but it’s only one month, and let’s face it, I can write and write and write all the live-long day if quality isn’t a requirement. I reckon that this is the sort of kickstart I need to get started.

Small problem. I have absolutely no idea what to write about. The NaNoWriMo website (and delightfully encouraging email) assures me that this is not a problem, but I have a horrible fear of sitting down at the computer and staring despairingly at a blank screen for the entire month.

So here’s the deal. If you’ll be so kind as to give me suggestions, I’ll use them in my novel. Imagine the satisfaction of reading a book that includes your character or your plot twist; the smug “this wouldn’t exist were it not for me!” feeling. You’d love it. And I’d love some inspiration. In fact, I need it! So go on. A setting, a character, a plot, a twist, a random object (however small or apparently insignificant) or quotation to be included, a sentence or phrase, anything to start the creative juices flowing. I found that when I was short of inspiration for blog posts last year, throwing it open like this provided me with more material than I could ever have imagined. Fancy doing the same this time and giving me a nudge into the world of novel-writing? If there are a few suggestions, I’ll try to use them all in some way. If there are loads, I’ll pick at least three suggestions and work them into my story somehow – or, if your suggestion really grabs me, maybe it’ll actually be my story!

Leave a comment and help me out – the clock is ticking! The novel commences on Saturday…

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14 thoughts on “Coffee Helps: The Novel?

  1. Maureen says:

    The protagonist – A young woman who leaves it all behind to set out on a journey of a lifetime….hmmmm sound like anyone you know?

  2. Billy says:

    People should definitely throw sheep at themselves in this novel. And there should be an eccentric young philospher, and possibly a camping trip. Oh, and perhaps a beat poet.

  3. Well done! I think you are brilliant to get started. Why not pick a topic you familiar with.

    1. Amongst those suggestions many moons ago, was to look at your blogroll and pick one name. That name might be a starter.

    2. Rio Clio was always good for an adventure.

    3. Escapades of The Kat.

  4. Sounds fun :-)
    I did a creative writing course with the OU last year and one of the tasks was to write a short scene involving a sudden change of weather. So there you go, see if you can incorporate that into your novel. Also we had to write a paragraph staring with “Emma said that….”, then take the “Emma said that” off the beginning and use what was left as the first line of a short story.

  5. stupid computer.

    Anyway, the story got me accepted to the University of Chicago. I also wrote a play about a guy who may or may not have been Jim Morrison reincarnate.

    My point is, got any favorite historical figures/dead rock stars? Try to connect to them in some way. (You should read all the terrible poetry I wrote about John Lennon in high school.) :)

  6. HBWolf says:

    Sounds like fun, you can have the idea for my novel if you want…
    Zombie pirates racing against cowboys from the future to find a magical treasure from the land of dinosaurs.

    Think of the merchandise….

  7. Great idea!
    Suggestions… hmm. How about a young girl travelling the world, who whilst half asleep one night in a two-bit motel with thin walls, hears a plot next door to buy a ‘dirty bomb’ and blow up the capital of some country or other.. and decides to follow the plotters and prevent their foul deed! She could meet a handsome tough-guy lorry driver along the way who believes her story and decides to help her expose the dastardly plotters!
    Anyway, whatever you decide to write about, I’m sure it will be a success and I’m hoping for a signed first edition. Good luck!

  8. What a great challenge! I’m always full of useless information, so let’s see:

    A setting: why, the barren crags of Cavan, naturally.

    A character: I’m with Maureen: it can only be the girl who packs up her life and sets off on the biggest adventure ever!

    And my favourite quotation: ‘one should try everything once. With the possible exception of incest and morris dancing’ (Oscar Wilde).

    Fly, little imagination…fly like the wind!! x

  9. The Sister says:

    Hmmm…u were obsessed with the x files…so something creepy, could be based in the tunnels in Talin, o and the scary massive spider has to be involved…maybe guarding hidden secrets in the depths of the tunnels…and remember ‘The Truth Is Out There!!!!’

    And Kat of course will have a staring role!!

  10. Mo says:

    I would have thought your experiences living on a certain unnamed housing estate would have given you more than enough material for a novel!!

  11. MoNkEyMaN says:

    What about a lovely little black and white cat which gets abandoned and has to toughen up big time. Maybe she could take up boxing to help her live by her wits out on the mean streets.

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