I, Dalton Lewis, accomplished the impossible last year: I finished a Nanowrimo book and published it ten months later. Seventy-five people bought or borrowed it, making it an excellent hit by my standards. Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a fun and essential quest for writers of all ages. It’s simple: you have one month to write a novel of 50,000 words. You then spend the next few months rewriting it and then you publish it. It’s for free and quite fun.
I want to outdo myself this time: I want to write a fantasy epic. I know that an epic is a big book, and my book might have big ideas and a medium length in terms of numbers of pages. Still — this is important. The complicated congregation of thoughts and cultures in that era fascinates me: the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish worlds collided in terrible war for several hundred years. I’m interested in writing about that time.
My friend suggested that Arab and Muslim middle ages teachings and mythology weren’t used enough in fantasy stories, and I agree, and that’s why I’m trying to write about an Arab setting for my story. That should be unique and different and interesting and create many problems for the characters.
The key to success, I think, is to work hard and not get too far behind. Working from behind doesn’t work because it’s crushingly hard to write 1700 words a day anyway — to expect one’s self to write more than that towards the end is ridiculous. Also I have decided to write an outline of this one. I should write about one’s college years instead of more stories about high school. My style of writing should allow for some fun college stories.
I didn’t have a lot of sex or drink a lot during high school. I was mostly without friends for the first half and mostly doing what I was told by society during the second half of high school — trying to get into a good college to study English and become a better writer.
My college years? I had different friends, friends who liked movies and literature and occasionally role-played and loved comic books but didn’t get defined as traditionally as my high school friends. They were marginally more “cool” and taught me drinking and occasionally partying.
I haven’t written about college nearly as much so I think that might be an interesting thing to try. I also think that it might help because college is an era of one’s life when one tries to go into the world for the first time — which can be a traditional start to a fantasy novel. Fantasy novels often are stories in which people go out into the world for adventure for the first time, and a college setting absolutely allows for that.
Interesting advice for writers? Try something different each time you write a novel. People shouldn’t write the same thing over and over. They should try to switch around stories and characters and themes and motifs. Every novel shouldn’t be the next in a series unless it is different enough to justify another chapter in the story. That’s all I will say about that. Now we will see how I do for National Novel Writing Month.
Thanks, and take care, friends.