Introducing Nellie the NaNo Mouse (take your picture with her!)

tl;dr: Take your picture with Nellie the NaNo mouse (PDF, download, print out, cut out) doing something NaNoWriMo-related (novel planning, brainstorming, writing (in November), attending a NaNo prep session or other event) and post it with the tag #nelliethenanomouse

Back story:

Once upon a time, a mouse lived within the NaNoWriMo Library of the Imagination. Her name was Nellie. She was different from other mice; she loved to read the many novels in the Library. Careful to wait till nightfall when all the people had left the Library, Nellie would creep around reading books of every sort. One night she got curious and decided to see what was in that really big book she’d never had the nerve to try to open before…

Wham! Very unexpectedly, the book fell upon her. It flattened her completely.

Fortunately, the next morning she was found by a kind librarian, Mrs. Wigglefingers, who also happened to love books. Mrs. Wigglefingers had worked in the library for so many years, no one knew how old she was. Some people thought she lived there, others thought she magically disappeared into the books at night. She greeted everyone at the door every morning with a smile and a wink and sometimes a wiggle of her finger if someone didn’t return their book on time.

This particular morning as Mrs. Wigglefingers patrolled the rows and rows of books, she noticed one lying on the floor. “I wonder how this fell off the shelf?” she said to the other books. They sat stoic in their slots, sworn to never tell what went on at night in the library although Mrs. Wigglefingers had a pretty good idea.

She bent down and picked it up. Underneath was a mouse, all flattened like a piece of paper. “Oh, you poor dear,” she said. She placed the book on a nearby shelf and carefully lifted the flat mouse, holding it by its tail, then laying it on her palm. “What shall I do with you?”

As Mrs. Wigglefingers was about to carry the flat mouse to the back of the library, it opened one eye and tried to raise itself upright. The mouse stood unsteady on its two hind feet and used its tail to help balance itself. It stared at Mrs. Wigglefingers, then flexed forward in a tiny curtsy. “Thank you,” it said. “You saved me.”

Now, Mrs. Wigglefingers was used to unusual things happening around her, after all, she was old and lived in a library full of imagination, but she’d never seen a flat mouse before, let alone one who could move or talk. She did what any self-respecting librarian would do and introduced herself.

The mouse replied, “My name is Nellie. Pleased to meet you.”

Over time Nellie and Mrs. Wigglefingers became close friends. Nellie told her of the many books she had read and enjoyed; Mrs. Wigglefingers regaled her new friend with stories of her many travels before she had settled down. Mrs. Wigglefingers could see the young mouse’s eyes shining with delight at the thought of seeing so many new and different places.

One day, Mrs. Wigglefingers had a surprise for Nellie, who had grown accustomed to her flattened state. It was a stamped envelope addressed to one of Mrs. Wigglefingers’ many librarian and writer friends.

“I am going to send you on a wondrous journey,” the old woman said with a huge grin. “Though I am too old to travel myself, the post service will aid you in traveling to visit many different places.”

Nellie clapped her flat hands together with delight. “How can I ever repay you for your kindness?”

“With the letter I’m enclosing, I am asking my friends to take pictures of you with themselves and to post them in the forums. You’ll see many lands and meet many writers and librarians–they are the best kinds of people. I know you will make lifelong friends in your journeys.” Mrs. Wigglefingers gently touched Nellie’s arm. “The joy I see you have will make me happy; and I know I will enjoy hearing your travel tales when you return.”

With that, Nellie wiggled into the envelope, letting her friend know that she was quite comfortable there. “I shall just take a long nap until I arrive,” she announced.

Story beats and genres: NaNo Prep Workshop – 2015-10-03

Anastasia Zoldak (anastasia007) gave the first of our four 2015 preparatory workshops today (2015-10-03), looking at advice for plotters and pantsers, how to use story beats and the consideration of genre. Anastasia presented the workshop since her collaborator Todd Hogan (writertodd07) was unable to make it.

Twenty five enthusiastic participants, including a fair number of first-time NaNoWriMo writers, listened, commented, asked questions and worked on creating milestone sentences in a break out session.

Notes and slides from the workshop are available on our wiki

So there’s this Magical Medicine Show…now what?

One can work in one’s peignoir

The lovely people at National Novel Writing Month are pushing a new thing, or at least a thing I don’t remember them being as pushy about in previous years. Now that we’ve all written a novel, they’re all about making it good. And because I’m into the whole “Show Your Work” movement, you get to read about how I’m going about making it good.

NaNoWriMo works for me because of the combination of deadlines and the group solidarity. In the past, I either haven’t had a novel with any potential, or I didn’t want to go through the scary, scary revision process all on my own. Luckily, one of my writing peeps, KatherineWriting is leading an editing path as an activity of our local writing group, The Writing Journey. She’s all about deadlines and group solidarity. This past week, those of us who are participating received an email with this request from her:
Please post a brief blurb about what you’re planning to do for the Editing Path. (Often it helps people achieve their goals if they write them down.)

  • Where are you starting? It doesn’t have to be chapter one.
  • What do you intend to do first? Quick overview changes, detailed line by line, or ?
  • How much do you hope to get done in February? How many chapters per week?

Here are my answers.

Where am I starting?

Pretty close to the beginning. I spent December and the beginning of January going through the novel I drafted in November of 2012 and November of 2013. I smooshed the two drafts together and attempted to remove extraneous character, scenes, etc. I’ve been looking at the first section with mixed feelings of dismay and delight, mucking around in it a bit. Time to stick a fork in it and move on.

What am I doing first?

I’d like to get it to pass the sniff test—making sure it doesn’t stink. Shall I count the ways in which it might stink? That will take too long. The least painful way to ease in will probably be to:

  1. Fill in the blanks. I have some bracketed and/or highlighted text which might denote a missing character name, location or some specific research detail. So fix those bits.   
  2. Make sure I buy the character motivations. I remember a few of them as needing work.   
  3. Remove overwriting and redundancies. Repetitive redundancies. You know, where you say things more than once even though the reader got it the first time.
  4. If I have any time after that, I’d like to fill in specific sensory details. More showing, less telling. Not so much white room syndrome. All that good stuff.

How much do I hope to get done in February?

I would dearly love to get the novel in good enough shape to share with beta readers (alpha readers?) by the beginning of March. Or by March 14 at the latest. It’s not exactly in chapters, more like scenes or sections. A March 1 deadline would mean about one section (averaging 4500 words) per day; I’m not sure I can do that in three hours, let alone one. I may or may not have the damned thing* ready by May. Though of course if I feel I’m on the right track, I can always start sharing chapters before I’m all the way through. That’s probably what I’ll end up doing. If you like being of service to your fellow man (or woman in this case) watch this space for requests for beta readers.

*Sorry. I didn’t mean “damned thing.” I meant “my wonderful, exciting novel about which I’m passionate.”