NANOWRIMO

March 25, 2013
by Michael Lee Joshua

Liars and Dogs

What is so special about November for writers?

NaNowriMo. NAtionalNOvelWRItingMOnth.

It’s especially important for those of us who write short stories. The goal is to get 50,000 words written in a new story, hoping to craft a full-length novel. Novels nowadays are at least 75,000 words, so the November goal is more of an exercise than producing a publishable book. Add to that the fact that there is no time to go back and edit the work, so it stands as a very rough draft, even when complete on November 30th.

I have written scores of short flash fiction pieces. These are works of less than 1,000 words. They come easily to me, but many of my writer friends find them torturous. Getting a complete story from beginning to end in just a few words is a difficult for some. For me, the challenge has been getting past 10,000 words. I have about four stories that stalled between 10,000 and 12,000 words. I seem to run out of steam by then.

Years in the business world have taught me to say whatever I need in a few words, before the audience nods off. I think that might be part of the problem.

So, this year, I am a participant in NaNoWriMo for the second time. I was unsuccessful in completing it the first time. But this year I am following a road map passed on to me during a session at a recent writers’ conference. I have plotted out the scenes of the story. For a ‘seat of the pants’ writer, the plotting and outlining does not come naturally. However, this exercise has helped to spur my progress along. Knowing where to add ‘plot twists’ and ‘reactions’ to those twists in order to keep the story flowing has been very helpful.

Getting 50,000 words is as much about being creative as it is typing the words. There has to be an idea of where the story is going. Even if we don’t know what the ending will be, we must go along for the ride.

Inspirational writers are held to a different standard than secular writers. We have to maintain a world for our characters that is not too sinful, children can’t be harmed (much) and life is a bit more sanitized than the everyday world we live in. And, though this makes it tougher in many ways, it helps us to keep our focus intact. It is about spreading the Gospel, after all. There is a lot of talk among writers that the high standard is unfair. After all, the world is full of sin. How do we show redemption if no one needs to be redeemed? Regardless, the readers have spoken.

There is a certain expectation of those of us who write to glorify God. No matter what twists and turns life throws at us, we do know the ending of the story.

We are already redeemed.

Jesus settled that for us.

So, back to the issue at hand. I’m halfway to the target of 50,000 words.

And the men trapped in the basement want to escape.

I don’t know if they will yet, I still have a twist or two to go.

 


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