NaNoWriMo: Classic Novels Written in a Month

Some interesting techniques for getting past Writer’s Block and meeting those deadlines!

Interesting Literature

Which classic novels were all written within a month? And which writer would take all his clothes off as a way of coping with writer’s block? We’re here to inspire you in your writing quest whether you’re taking part in NaNoWriMo or merely trying to complete (nay, perhaps start) a writing project.

This month, many people are taking part in NaNoWriMo, or ‘National Novel Writing Month’, which takes place every November. The idea is to write a novel – to start one if not to complete it – by writing 50,000 words across the month of November. Here at Interesting Literature we thought we’d offer some support for those undertaking NaNoWriMo by showing how even famous and established novelists have had to cope with writer’s block, deadlines, and writing quickly.

Douglas Adams memorably remarked, ‘I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.’…

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Unprepared and Don’t Care – Prepping for NaNoWriMo

In the past I have had stuff at somewhere near planned, a clear idea of plot, characters, locations, etc. but this year, well, the idea is there, the plot kind of, 2 characters at least somewhere near developed, the location is about as vague as it possibly can be (in other words, I need to do A LOT of world building!), I have no idea where my novel sits in terms of genre really (apart from its fantasy with social commentary) and in general, I really need to crack on with getting this at least halfway planned.


The Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society

It’s just a little over two weeks until NaNoWriMo begins. I can’t believe how fast the time is flying.

There are things to do.

Finish the fall cleaning.

Get as much of the menu-planning and grocery shopping for November done before the month begins as is possible.

Reiterate to family and friends again and again and again that all of my weekends between from October 26-December 7 are booked already.

And despite the fact that almost all of the dates, times, and venues we need for the local regional events (oh, btw, Michelle and I are Municipal Liaisons for NaNoWriMo) have been confirmed, and I know what story I’ll be writing, I still feel woefully unprepared.

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Camp NaNoWriMo Update and Reflections

2013 Banner 1

Okay, I am more awake now so I can finally do this update.

As you all probably already know, I failed NaNoWriMo. If you want the numbers, here you go:

Day 29: 28,900 words

Day 30: 30,450 words

Day 31: 33,061 words

So, as you can you see, I was writing a fair bit but unfortunately, it’s because I hit a wall with the fan fiction, just like I did with the crime novel. I also spent part of day 31 procrastinating and not actually, you know, writing.

So what have I learned over the last month?

Firstly,  whilst being able to rewrite a book quickly and efficiently is the mark of a professional writer, I cannot do it whilst doing NaNoWriMo. It’s a logistical nightmare to count up new words written, check up on information from other parts of the novel and do a bang up job of rewriting the novel properly.

Even if I had written a crib sheet of important and a running order of what happens in the novel, I don’t think it would be possible for me to actually write the novel in NaNo.

Secondly, planning what happens and doing a bit more research beyond a certain point helps to actually write any story of any type. This is what stopped me in both the crime novel and the short fan fiction story.

The short story was just badly unplanned and written out of boredom. In the case of the novel, I only actually planned up to and including the trial. I did not actually think the second part of the novel through properly. Shame on me and I have attempted to learn this lesson for the past year or so when I realised this personal flaw in my method in working last year.

Still, another bump on the road. Another lesson to learn.

Thirdly, I need to stop procrastinating and writing too late at night. Well, within reason.

Many writers procrastinate and it can be a good thing (providing it doesn’t go to the extreme) but I seem to spend a lot of time not writing and thinking a bit too much over the last month. It wasn’t even spent productively! This was especially the case on Day 31.

As for writing too late, that’s more about the fact I seemed to START writing too late at night. If I am on a roll, then I will keep writing beyond midnight as I will eventually tire and finish but I really need to actually start writing earlier in the afternoon. I might actually get more written! I struggle to settle and write in the morning but can get work done in the afternoon.

There’s probably a few other lessons I have learned that I haven’t realised yet but those three, they are certainly the most important ones.

So here’s to learning lessons and improving as a writer.

Here’s to those amazing people who finished July and to those, like me, who didn’t.

Here’s to the fantastic staff at the Office of Light and Letters who have run the event and the website.

And here’s to the next session and the one after that and the one after that to challenge and improve everyone as writers of any kind.

Book Review: The Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan

The Good Thief‘s Guide to Vegas is the third book in this series and follows Charlie Howard, part time mid list novelist, part time thief,  as he heads for Las Vegas, USA, following events in Paris. No sooner has he arrived is he pick pocketing a poor sucker at a roulette table for his wallet and checking out a magic show. The wallet happens to belong to the magician, Josh Masters, who takes quite a liking to Charlie’s agent, Victoria. Charlie isn’t one to hold a grudge but decides to use the key card he finds in the wallet to have a look round Master’s suite. Unfortunately, that’s when things start to go wrong, not least of all discovering a dead body in the bath tub…

This novel is great fun, written in the first person with wit and humour, and features everything that has come to be expected of Ewan. The series can be read out of sequence (I really need to read the other books!) as very little of the storytelling really relies on past events in previous books. All the characters are full of surprises and keeps you grip from page to page. The events in the books can be a little confusing if you are unaware of Vegas’s strip layout (even after watching over a hundred episodes of CSI:LV), especially the story takes place (mainly!) in two fictional hotels however that disorientation isn’t enough to break the suspension of disbelief and Ewan does explain the location of them at the end of the novel as an author’s note. The events and actions of the characters keep ramping up the danger the characters are in, especially Victoria reveals that she hasn’t been all that honest when playing the tables.  There are also a lot of surprises and twists and turns, making the solution to everything that has happened an enjoyable and satisfying ending.

This instalment is very much aimed at an adult audience as the themes of gambling, threat of death, betrayal, prostitution and sex are extremely prevalent. This might seem like an odd thing to note considering the novel is set in Las Vegas, the city of sin, but the story itself could easily appeal late teens and young adults who might not necessarily like having these sorts of themes so in their face. Of course, society often brings these issues into the public forum and many people read to escape that reality which makes this novel rather gritty and these themes not necessarily appropriate and/or wanted in a novel such as this.

As a rule, I don’t tend to look at reviews before reading a book or seeing a film but, whilst writing this, I have read reviews on GoodReads and Amazon which indicate that this book a bit like Marmite: either you really enjoy it and take the book as part of an excellent series by Chris Ewan or you hate it because the plot is holey and/or the characters are underdeveloped and/or the writing a little rambling. (I would note that the rambling might be down to the fact that the novel is written in first person and Charlie ends up exhausted which often leads to rambling).

In general though, I do like this book, it’s story and how well Ewan utilises his chosen location. It is definitely an adult book and can be read as a one off or part of the series. For me, I intend to track down the other books and get reading. I might end up doing reviews on those books in the future too.