It’s October! Which means, it’s officially time to get your NaNo WriMo project prepped!

For the uninitiated, “NaNo WriMo” (or sometimes just “NaNo”) is shorthand for National Novel Writing Month, which a big push to complete fifty thousand words of novel in the month of November. (see: Two of my published books began life as NaNo novels, as well as one of the ones I’m currently revising.

Several years ago, I made the decision to stop doing NaNo. Why? It just didn’t really fit well with my life anymore, and I didn’t feel I needed the extra motivation to finish a book. But… Every year it beckons anew.

This is possibly the last November I have with my son at home. When we move, he may decide to enter public school, and will lose the freedom to put classes on hold for a month in order to write a novel. I think a full novel is still too much for him to do on his own. In previous years, I’ve tried to get him to do a lower word count, but he’s never been able to stick with it. I’m hoping that by co-authoring with him, I’ll be able to help keep his interest from flagging.

This may be a recipe for disaster. We’ve actually tried to create a book together other years and have failed fantastically both times. But I’ve never tried with him this age before, and he is in a stage of rapid maturing. And I have actually learned a bit about collaborating with someone since the last time we tried.

The official NaNo rules say that you are not allowed to work with a partner. I assume this is because they don’t want you to divide the workload. What I believe the rules fail to take into account though is that it can be harder to write with a partner than on one’s own. When one partner takes a character and the other another, then, yes, you can write twice as much in the same amount of time. This is not what my Kiddo and I are planning to do though. We shall be sitting together, having to agree on every sentence that gets typed. I foresee a lot of disagreement and compromise. It’s easily going to be twice as hard to write with him as it would be to write on my own.

So why do it? Well, in part for him. I think it’s a great educational opportunity that most high schoolers don’t get. (I was writing novels in high school. It’s hard to write a book while pretending to pay attention to trigonometry.) I think it’s an opportunity to educate myself as well though. How better to get into the teenaged mind than to work closely with an actual teen?

It should also help both of us learn of compromise and negotiation. So far, I have convinced him that our main character should be a black girl named Joniqua, rather than the redheaded girl he wanted to cast, and he has gotten me to acknowledge that the story will not be a romance. Instead, it will be a fantasy/mystery.

At this point, all we have is a notebook with seven characters written in it, including a catboy, a dragonlady, and a Viking. These seven students will be part of a study group of some sort (think Community), and will have to solve a mystery (think Scooby Doo, except the bad guy is more likely to be a monster masquerading as a human than the other way around) in a world that uses the same maps as our world, but has magic. The setting is our apartment building. No, really. It’s exactly our building, except it’s still a school in the fantasy world, whereas in the “real” one it stopped being a school decades ago.

The next step will be to start developing a plot to outline. I’ve never written a true mystery before, so I’m not entirely sure how to outline one. I’m thinking you use a simplified version of the snowflake method. The first step is to create a one line summary. Then you turn it into a paragraph. At this point, the official snowflake method says to keep writing longer synopsys, but I believe I’ll stop there in favor of making the note-style, goal-orientated outline I typically use.

I expect to get into more details on this outline that I typically cover, to try to discourage bickering and indecisiveness during the timed part of things. It shall be challenging though, because we can’t take time off school work for this month as well, so we’ll be working around school. Some days that’s easy, because Kiddo finishes all his work by lunch. Other days… Not so much.

While Kiddo works on things other than onlining our novel, I am going to be working on revisions. I am very close to a final draft of Werestory 2, now named Of Snow and Whiskers, and have plenty of work to do on Love and Sorcery.

Are you doing NaNo WriMo this year? If you want to buddy with me and the Kiddo, we’re writing under the name Collin Brokaw. Look us up!


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