In preparation for the start of NaNoWriMo tomorrow, I've totally immersed myself in the mystery genre. I'm reading Murder Off Mike, listening to Tears of the Giraffe. and last night we watched a Death in the Clouds, a film adaptation of one of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poroit mysteries. My intent is to internalize the pacing and style of these cosy mysteries, i.e. mysteries in which there is either no murder or the murder takes place out of sight of the reader. I've long been a fan of mysteries, but I'm definitely paying attention differently now that I'm planning to write a mystery.
I'm also reading No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty, the guy who started NaNoWriMo in 1999 with 29 friends. That first year, only 6 people finished or won as WriMos are declared to have done when they complete the 50,000 words in 30 days. The book is hysterically tongue-in-cheek as it guides a potential WriMo in making light of this event while also taking it seriously. In other words, Baty knows you have to be crazy to start and you have to stay crazy to finish. He offers numerous ideas to make it through in good spirit. Here is a random sampling of his suggestions:
- Drink lots of coffee and eat a lot of non-greasy, non-crumbly snacks that won't mess up your computer keyboard;
- Brag about signing up for NaNoWriMo to everyone you know so that they will ask how it's going. Nothing makes it more difficult to back down than having boasted to friends and loved ones;
- Too much planning has a way of stopping novel writing altogether. Allow yourself to begin thinking about your novel no more than one week before the start of NaNoWriMo but don't write anything until the start date, except perhaps the title and main character's name and a one sentence summary of your idea.
- Aim for exuberant imperfection.
- Create a noveling headquarters away from home, e.g. coffeeshops, libraries, bars, cheap motels, where you will discover a wealth of interesting looking strangers and overhear snippets of conversation that make excellent fodder for one's imagination.
- Find inspiration in other weird places, like reading the daily horoscopes, clicking the "random" button on Live Journal, reading spam email, or looking for names in textbook indexes.
I'm simply humming with anticipation. However, because I've read Baty's book, I know the excitement dies after the first week and a storm rolls in. The novelty of the event fades and . . .
No, I'm not going there yet. I'm want to enjoy the frenetic energy building inside of me that will send me exploding into NaNo-land tomorrow morning .