Have you ever wanted to write your own novel? Maybe you’ve heard of National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), the free, annual challenge that takes place every November, where writers and would-be novelists strive to start, write and complete their 50,000+ word novel in just 30 days. Last year over three hundred and forty thousand people worldwide took up the challenge. Bolstered by online forums and local events, participants had fun along the way.
The Naperville region of NaNoWriMo, representing the cities and suburbs west of Chicago, has partnered with area libraries to offer four preparatory workshops. The first one of these, “Hit the Ground Writing,” is led by author Todd Hogan. It will be 2-4 pm, Saturday, September 28th at the Warrenville Public Library.
Todd will be discussing NaNoWriMo’s goal of 50,000 words in 30 days, why a writer might want to accept the challenge, some ways to hit the goal, and some of the hurdles that the writer might expect during those 30 days. Participants will explore ways to get ready for November, how to get oneself psyched and excited to begin writing, and how to maintain that enthusiasm through 30 days.
The other three workshops, all in October and at the Nichols and 95th Street Libraries in Naperville, are: “Characters are Story,” by Katherine Lato (October 5th, 1-3 pm, Nichols Library); “Writing Styles – Structure, Plot and Mechanics,” by Roger Lubeck (October 12th, 1-3 pm, 95th Street Library); and “Keeping Your Readers Engaged,” by Frank Dahlman (October 19th, 1-3 pm, Nichols Library).
Katherine’s October 5th “Characters are Story” session is an exercise-intensive workshop that will cover characters: getting them to do things, having reasons for what they do, keeping backstory short, avoiding flat characters, and having bad stuff happen. The exercises can be used to explore the characters in your novel, or to help find the story in the characters. Katherine will also share tips for how to finish the first draft in November, something she has done every year since she joined NaNoWriMo in 2006.
To plot or not to plot, that is a question? Some writers begin with a plot. Others let the story evolve. In the end, all novels have a plot and they have structure; they have a beginning, middle, and end. In his October 12th session, Roger Lubeck (nine-time NaNoWriMo winner and author of three published novels) will explore the novel in three acts. Using examples, Roger will explain the basic plot structures found in most novels, he will discuss the mechanics of a novel, and finally, using a series of exercises, Roger will provide a process by which authors can plan and complete their 50,000 word novels in 30 days.
Frank writes about his October 19th session: There are many things that keep a reader engaged in your writing. Two important elements are tension and pacing. In this prep session we will be discussing how to add emotional, psychological, and physical tension to your novel. We will also be discussing how to construct and plan the scenes in your novel to create a pacing that will keep your readers interested and turning the page.
The Naperville region of NaNoWriMo is partnering with libraries in Naperville, Warrenville, Woodridge, Downers Grove, Lombard and Carol Stream to offer write-in events in November for people to use to work on their novel while others around them are working on theirs. There will also be a pot-luck kick-off lunch Saturday, October 26th.