Come Write In for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – is happening this November and I'm having a go.

NaNoWriMo is a great way to encourage aspiring writers to make a start on their first novel, novella, or short story. It's not so much about quality, says local coordinator Judy Mohr, or quantity, but establishing a habit.

At Tūranga, New Brighton, Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Shirley Libraries, we're hosting Come Write In spaces for writers to write and gain support from the community that pops up around the event.

The most important goal is to write every day, says Judy. Of course people can do this at home, but during the month of November writers are welcome to come in to use library spaces and computers, and find fellowship. 

The NaNoWriMo website provides forums, tools and encouragement to writers all around the world. The ultimate goal is to aim for 50,000 words, or a first draft of your novel. It's a bit stream of consciousness, à la Jack Kerouac.

At Christchurch City Libraries we're following Judy's advice and focusing on the habit of writing rather than the numbers, which can be a little daunting. Our approach is its putting pen to paper that matters.

New Zealand authors are doing amazingly well overseas these days. Authors like Jacqueline Bublitz and Michael Bennett have gone viral (watch this space for the Ngaio Marsh Awards), D.V. Bishop's The Darkest Sin, from the Cesare Aldo series, won the Historical Dagger Award for crime writing this year, Eleanor Catton and Catherine Chidgey are blazing their way through the bestseller lists and Tamsyn Muir's fantasy novel series, The Locked Tomb, has been shortlisted every year at Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Awards.

I'm a blogger by trade; reporting on events and reviewing books. But I have a novel up my sleeve. After years of covering the Ngaio Marsh Awards for crime and mystery writing, some of that murder mystery stuff has rubbed off on me.

I've been taking notes as I bus across the city to work and back, thinking about funny and downright dastardly characters for a story. Or maybe a series!

I know from my own reading that the setting, or sense of place, is an appeal characteristic that draws me into a story. For some readers it's the characters, plot or story, or a book that's language rich. The most successful authors are those who can tick all four of these boxes. For readers of non-fiction these doorways can apply, added to a strong narrative, solid research and authority.

What are the elements that appeal to you about books?

The other thing that I'm noting in my writing prep is how a writer brings an imagined character to life - using the senses to describe their reactions to things: smells, feelings, facial expressions, memories, touch, how things taste.

I like descriptions of people and settings to be brief, or tied into the action compared to the hilarious or confronting things they say and do.

There's room for social comment, but I wouldn't let that dominate a good story.

In October, you can access NaNo Prep so you're ready to hit the ground running come November.

The hardest part is making a start. Who knows? You could be the next Kiwi making waves in the bestseller market. Go to it!

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