Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo Starts Today!

On Tuesdays in November, I'll be running  series of NaNoWriMo pep talks.

I was re-watching one of my favorite movies a while back, and suddenly I realized that NaNoWriMo is like The Princess Bride—both are adventures narrated by one very excited participant (you) and derided by one very snide bystander (your Internal Editor).

During the first week of NaNo, you will have all the energy and enthusiasm of the Grandfather. You’ve got a book to offer, and nothing could be better. The Grandson is your Internal Editor, constantly questioning and doubting that your story will be any good. Right from the start, the Grandson is unconvinced of the story’s appeal. “Are there any sports in it?” he asks.

How many of us have heard that little voice asking if we actually have a plot? Was our answer as good as the Grandfather’s? “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” (Sounds a lot like a NaNo Bingo card, doesn’t it? And whose story doesn’t include a few of those elements? I can personally check off fighting, torture, revenge, escapes, true love, and miracles.)

If you watch The Princess Bride, you learn that the secret to telling a good story lies in ignoring the heckler. He’s barely into his story when the Grandson interrupts: “Hold it, hold it! Are you trying to trick me? Where’s the sports? Is this a kissing book?”

Does the Grandfather put the book down and say, “You’re right, I’m sorry… What was I thinking, imagining I could tell an interesting story? I’ll just go on home now, and you can get back to your game.” No! He tells the kid to sit still and wait! There’s good stuff coming, and he knows it.

Here’s the secret I want you to learn this week. Your Internal Editor does not know your whole story. All it knows is the part you’ve already told, and we all know that the first chapter, or even the first third a book doesn’t show the whole picture. When that little voice starts whining at you, wondering if this is ‘a kissing book,” tell it to be patient. The good stuff is yet to come.

Next Week: The Dread Pirate Roberts