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Early in October, I mentioned in an entry here that I was participating in NaNoWriMo again this year. For those who missed that entry, NaNoWriMo is an annual event in which thousands of people, all over the world, buckle down and write a 50,000 word novel over the course of November. I’ve participated every year since 2005, and today I notched up my third victory.

It’s been more difficult than the past three years1, because I’ve had a lot of other things to do. Preparation for my International Studies exam was always going to take precedence, for example. I barely wrote at all during the school week — only a couple of hundred words here and there — because school took up a lot of my time. The only reason I’ve been able to win this year at all is because I wrote 20,000 words in the first four days of the event2. I did so deliberately, to ensure that I could neglect writing for a couple of weeks without losing. And hey, it paid off, didn’t it?

So today I crossed the 50,000 word mark, and it seems as good a place as any to stop and explain what I’m writing. Read More »

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NaNoWriMo is an annual event in which, over the course of November, people all over the world buckle down and try to write a 50,000 novel (or novella, really). I’ve been a participant in this event every year since 2005, winning twice and losing once. (Damn sophomore slump!) Perhaps it goes without saying that I’m planning to participate again this year.

I never doubted that I was going to participate this year. I contemplated taking a year off for year twelve — since, you know, I’ll have five exams that November and all — but this year? I’ve only got one year twelve exam, and eternally optimistic as I am, I figure it can’t be too arduous to study for. Not arduous enough to preclude me from writing a novel, at any rate. In fact, writing a novel might even be beneficial — I’ll get to take a break from studying once in a while and return much refreshed. Right? Read More »

I am a near-constant critic of novels. I can find faults with almost every book I read, as though it’s a strange compulsion I have. It’s no fault of the novelists themselves that I criticise their work; it’s merely that my view of the purpose of a novel clearly differs to theirs. To me, the purpose of a novel is to tell a story. When I read a novel, I want to read about people, actions and emotions. I want flawed characters, human characters, whom I can identify with and feel empathy for. I want them to do things, and I want things to be done to them. I want them to interact with each other, and I want the plot to stem from the characters’ personalities. This is, to my mind, what makes a beautiful novel.

Tragically, I’ve read very few novels satisfy my criteria for “beautiful” ((Disclaimer: I don’t read many novels at all, so this statement doesn’t count for a lot.)). The novelists whose work I’ve had to suffer through rarely care for their characters. In some novels, the characters become noisy, humorous caricatures; in others, they are almost invisible and take a back seat to the author’s epic descriptions of trees. In both cases, the poor characterisation is not helped at all by horrible writing. Even if the characters weren’t bad, how could I become absorbed in a novel when the writing is so self-conscious? Novels are about communicating stories, not communicating words. Here are some pointers on how to keep me absorbed in your story, without being distracted by these distinctly un-beautiful annoyances. Read More »