Monday, October 31, 2011

This and That

National Novel Writing Month begins tomorrow. Thirty days to write a 50,000-word novel, while celebrating Thanksgiving and at least giving thought to Christmas. Me? I'd have picked a 31-day month without much else going on, maybe March.

I am participating, at least in the sense that I am writing a novel and it is November. I started it last month and I don't expect to be finished by Nov. 30. I'm not ruling it out, but it's not likely. I'm sure I'll have written 50,000 words by then, but not all of them in the novel, many in the news stories I write to pay the rent. And the story is more likely to be about 65,000 words long, and if I pull that off, it'll be a first. The first draft of "Chance" was 110,000 words, which I eventually cut below 89,000. The first draft of "Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter" was about 85,000.

My daughter Kate is planning to take part, so it'll be fun to chart her progress. And my esteem for the concept has gone up quite a bit since I learned one novel that started as a NaNoWriMo project was "Water for Elephants," a great book and my favorite movie of the year.

"Scurvy Dogs" is going really well. I'm very excited about it. When I read the third chapter to the fourth graders, one asked about where the ideas come from, and whether I thought of the title first, or the story first. Actually, that last is a good question. Usually I (and every writer I've ever heard of) write the story, and the name kind of becomes obvious. There are legendary stories about authors whose desperately bad titles on great books were saved by publishers.

But with "Scurvy Dogs!" I actually saw the cover of the book – and of course the title in my head before anything else. I even made note of the typography, the font and text treatment. And the title told me a lot about the story, and the ruminating I did about it brought all the pieces together. As I told the class, I just wish I could have seen it a little more clearly and actually seen the inside pages. Then I could have read it, and writing would be a breeze, just a matter f retyping what I saw!

At the very least I wish I could have seen the back cover to see who gave me good reviews. And maybe the picture of the author (me) to see if I've lost that weight.

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