Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How Writing a Nano Novel is Different than “Normal” Novel Writing

On the ride to NCCAT with Joyce Hostetter, my fellow presenter, we talked about our NaNoWriMo books. This is my first foray into historical fiction; this is Joyce's fifth book. Her story is about a teenager who for unexpected reasons finds himself working in a mental hospital in the 40's. I was curious to know how writing a book within the framework of one month has been a different experience than how she normally writes her books.

"Before I started NaNo I actually used "Create a Character" from Teaching The Story." (Of course I was delighted to hear that!) "It pushed me to identify major people in my character's life and formative events and helped me to know his back story. I don't usually intentionally sit down and brainstorm about my character first; usually I just discover my characters as I go along.

"I haven't had as much time to research as I would have liked," Joyce admitted. "I have books on my shelves that I haven't even had a minute to read. For example, I want to read the memoirs of a mental hospital employee from WWII but I've been so busy trying to write that I haven't even been able to contact him yet.

"The other difference is that before I had high speed internet connection and the distractions of Facebook and blogging, I would just get up every morning to write. Now, I get up and check my e-mail, and troll around the web and it is all very distracting. NaNoWriMo has helped me to remember what it feels like to create a character and to have my mood lifted by the writing process itself. It energizes me. After recently experiencing the tediousness of proofing the copyedits for Comfort, the sequel to Blue, it is exciting to have a new story and a fresh new character."

Joyce and I became so engrossed in talking about our experiences with NaNoWriMo, that we missed our exit coming here. Fortunately, we figured it out before we drove too many miles out of our way. Get two writers together and that's what happens! But we arrived with plenty of time to set up and lead 24 teachers in the process of exploring, "Is there a Children's Book in You?"

This is Joyce sharing how to create characters with voice. Hopefully a character who doesn’t miss her exit driving along I-40 West in the Appalachian Mountains!

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