Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Proper Care and Feeding of a NaNoWriMo Participant(aka how to not annoy us)

This post is for people who don't do NaNoWriMo but know a participant. And yes, this post is a bit late.

With the end of NaNoWriMo approaching, you may be wondering "What can I do to help my Wrimo be more comfortable as they emerge from their writing dens/caves, smelling like coffee and blinking in the bright sunlight?"

I'm not trying to be mean or to tell people off, but if you want to avoid irking your Wrimo friends, and help them along their journey, some things to do and not do. This will also endear you to your Wrimo friends, and they will thank you and love you.

 I know some people are just curious and interested, and that's okay. When in doubt, just be polite and nice and don't make us do any work we don't have to.(Hey, we're tired.)

Do not ask why we would want to spend a month frantically writing if we get nothing out of it.  Don't ask "what do you get out of it?" I get a novel out of it. I get to stretch my writing skills and take on a fun challenge. And don't ask "why would you want to spend a month writing something that's no good?" It's a creative thing, okay?

 Do not ask if we're going to get it published. I know you're just curious, but it just reveals how little you know about the publishing industry. To answer your question here, the publishing industry is very tough to get into unless you have a very good product, and that's impossible to get in one month of cramming. Writing the novel is one thing, editing it is a whole different thing. Only the really dedicated ones get around to it. If you really want to ask this question, add "after editing."

Please don't bug us to read the manuscript right after we told you we've finished it. I admit, I'm guilty of this. Almost everybody is.

But here's the reason why. NaNoWriMo is a draining endeavor, and you spend a month pouring your soul into a novel. When you ask to read a NaNo, it's like asking for a piece of someone's soul, that someone spent a month pouring sweat into, stressing about, and thinking about. And it often turns out to be rough. Very rough. And most of the time, we are very shy and nervous about putting it under someone else's scrutiny. I know you're okay with reading someone's "in progress" novel, but we aren't okay with you reading it. Yet.

Plus, we're often so exhausted with the effort of just producing it, that we haven't even begun to think of editing and making it decent enough to share.

Asking nicely is fine, but saying "I can't wait to read it!" and things like you're entitled to read it just...you get the idea. If you ask nicely, I will send you a copy eventually, after my Writing Buddies and Lakehouse Sisters. ;)

Once you get the manuscript, do not, please do not start to criticize or make fun of the manuscript without being asked for it. This should be a given. I don’t care if it’s constructive criticism, that’s my soul you’re criticizing and I’m still exhausted from the effort of just getting it out there.

Do be supportive. NaNoWriMo is hard. We need you. Ask about wordcount. Ask about how the plot’s going. You might not want to ask for a detailed summary, but just the subject is fine.

Do ask for an excerpt if you’re curious.  Most of us keep excerpts handy for when people ask for them.

When we do ask you to edit, be strict about it. Remember. We must ask you for your help, and probably not until January when we’re done editing ourselves. Don’t be shy or too nice, or tell us that our novel is spectacular. If we’re asking you for help, it means we’ve bulked ourselves up enough to take it.

Unless you know we’re into this sort of thing, don’t ask us to proofread, cowrite, edit, or write your unfinished or unstarted novel. NaNoWriMo does not make us noveling experts and doesn’t mean we’d love to spend the rest of the year doing nothing but novels. You can ask us for tips. That is all. I edit and proofread occasionally, but it’s usually my friends’ work and I always ask first.

If we drop our NaNoNovel and never want to look at it again, that’s our own business. I don’t care if you think it’s our wasted effort and we’re just being lazy. Trust me, we love our own novels even more than you do We’ve probably tried everything to get it to work, but sometimes they just pass the point of no return, you know?

Do join NaNoWriMo. We love us our fellow Wrimos.

So I hope this helps. Fellow Wrimos, does this line up?

Trust me, I’m guilty of some of these. I’m not trying to embarrass you or be mean. If you feel guilty for doing some of these, no need to apologize! You’re not the only one. And now you are a NaNo savvy person! To help you on your way, here are some NaNo terms and jargon:

NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. Tis a month to write a 50K novel. In November.
MC: Main Character
OC: Original Character
FMC: Female Main Character
Wrimo: NaNoWriMo participant.

TSoD: Traveling Shovel of Death. Don't know how to get rid of a character? Use a shovel !
WoD: Write or Die, a website
Word War: Two people sit for x amount of times and see who can get the most words.
Word Sprint. You sit by yourself and time yourself for your own words
TGIO: Thank God It's Over. Party time!

Scrivener: Writing application, free to Wrimos. Kind of like Microsoft Word on steroids.
Plot Bunny: An idea that sprouts from a plot that leads you in a different direction(shortened version)
Mary Sue/Gary Stu: Long explanation, basically a cliched perfect character, often the last one of her/his kind, or a half-something or runaway-princess or something

Script Frenzy or Screnzy-NaNoWriMo for scriptwriters/comic book writers. In April.
NanoFiMo, Camp NaNoWriMo, DecNoWriMo, etc. Spinoffs of NaNo, in different months.
Plotter: Someone who uses outlines.
Pantser: Someone who doesn't use outlines.

ML: Municipal Liaison, sort of an organizer.

Hope this helped :)


  1. i need to join nanowrimo. i'm so lazy. help me.
    -jocee <3

  2. Yep, Amaranthine, this post makes good sense. I know so many people that are always asking me "So when are ypu planning on getting published?" They just don't realize how difficult that actually is. Thanks for the awesome post!

  3. Yeah, these are good tips. One I would add... If you make cupcakes for a WriMo during this crazy month they will love you forever. ;)

  4. About thingy number 3.

    Um, I'm kinda of the opinion that if some one asks to read your novel, you should jump through the ceiling for joy. AND, yeah, I'm sure you poured sweat and probably tears and blood into it, but, if you plan on publishing it someday, wont the publisher need to read it? I don't think we should be afraid and mad if someone asks to read it. Maybe kindly say, "Once edited, maybe". But...I dunno...Maybe I'm the lax sort.

    Oh, I'm on lakehouse! Does that mean I'll get to read it? lol Hope that didn't make you upset...:-)

  5. @Ashley

    But you weren't a NaNoWriMo participant, were you? (waggles eyebrows)

    I think it's different for Wrimos and regular writers. A lot of regular writers I know have never actually finished a novel.

    (Come to think of it, I haven't finished my NaNoWriMo novel. Hmm.)

  6. The difference between this and me is that people didn't ask about my novel as much as I volunteered information, LOL. I was so excited about my first NaNo experience that I told everyone about it! ;) Interesting post, I hope you had a fun November! :D


Amaranthine <3's you. Thanks for the comment!