So, ladies and gentlemen, each November there is a competition for writers who strive to compose a story of 50,000 words (or possibly a little more). The National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for insiders) is the Super Bowl for those who have no athletic skills [sic] but have an idea often expressed as "You know what would make a great movie?"
NaNo was brought to my attention by my writer friends in 2014. Usually it is not a problem to write 50,000 words, even in a month, if I have a lot of free time and a hot idea. So I gave it a go, writing most of a sci-fi novel by the concluding tally of 55,396...which was not the end of the story. I put it aside and finally this year (yes, in 2020) I picked it up and finished it at 95,000 words. It will be available early in 2021.
Usually, I start something in February and write through the spring and summer and finish at the beginning of autumn, then edit and revise through the month of November, precluding my participation. But sometimes it works out. In 2016 I worked on a sequel to my epic fantasy tome and "won" with 52,077 words...but it remains unfinished. In 2018, I worked on a cynical autobiography, based a lot on Grandma's notes of her ancestors and my vague memories of childhood. Again I got to 54,275 words by the end of the month. Lots more to finish that book.
Last year (2019) I was engaged in preparation of my crime thriller novel EXCHANGE (out in May 2020) and skipped the NaNo. But this year...I had no alibi. So I looked at what projects I had started and needed to finish. I picked up my screenplay for a "1984" rip-off and decided to novelize it. We are allowed notes and an outline for NaNo so novelizing a screenplay is not cheating. With 2 days to go, it sits at 49,996 words. I think I can cobble together another 4 words in time.
THE LIE began long, long ago in a high school far, far away. Fresh from a class reading of George Orwell's "1984", I said to myself: "I think I can do better." So I wrote a story about a police state but mine was set in the United States instead of London. I had my own twists on the story so it wasn't entirely a copy. I typed it out on a manual typewriter until the ink ribbon was spent and the typed words faint. Single-spaced, it went to 66 pages - the longest piece of writing I had ever done to that date. I stapled the pages in the top left corner and shared it with a couple guys in my sci-fi nerd circle. They liked it. Others asked to read it so it was passed around for the rest of the semester.
However, I got busy with other things. You know, the usual: college, jobs, relationships, other writing projects, travel, career, family, more writing projects....
Back up. In a return to college to take a screenwriting course, I used the story as the plot for my screenplay (see above). The professor of the course had Hollywood ties and he helped some of us get attention. My screenplay was "optioned" by a production company, which meant they paid me for the rights to it for 1 year; if they did not move forward on it within that year the rights reverted to me. Guess who got reverted?
So it went back to the shelf. I ran the high school pages through an OCR system to try to make it able to be edited on a word processor but the optical character recognition system did not recognize very much of my typing. Now (NaNoWriMo 2020) I cannot even find that poor OCR'd file, but I do have the screenplay. So I read the scene in the screenplay format, then write it out as a novel scene. Lots of description needed to be filled in along with the thoughts and feelings of the characters - which the actors and director would take care of in a film production.
Like past projects for NaNoWriMo, I will not finish it by the time I complete the month. But I will get my 50,000 words to win the competition. The project interests me, has a unique take on the basic dystopian themes, and so I will likely finish it eventually - unless a new idea hits me from out of left field.
So that is how I have been spending my November, if anyone wondered where I was. I was assuming you were deep inside one of my latest novels, EXCHANGE or the just launched YEAR OF THE TIGER (read more here), and simply did not realize I had not posted on my blog until now. Next month I will return to that first NaNoWriMo novel, the sci-fi story, and prepare it for launch in 2021.
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