Writing my Novel in November

by Mike Shea on 28 September 2007

Over my two-week uber-vacation in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland and beautiful Bermuda, I contemplated something that I've been contemplating for over a year now - writing a novel.

I've written a lot of fiction over the past six years. I self-published a book of short stories and wrote about a half dozen more. I read about writing, I think about writing, I even write a little bit from time to time. I have all the self doubt and angst and cynicism that writers all seem to share. I spend a great deal of time staring out of windows while, in my head, entire cities are built and torn down. I even post my rejection letters from Fantasy and Science Fiction and Weird Tales on my refrigerator.

Anyway, last year I had the idea for a story called Seven Swords that would put together four characters from other stories of mine with three new characters in a very simple homage to Kurosawa's Seven Samuari; probably the best story seed ever created. It's going to be set in Faigon, in the desert on the border between the northern empire and the southern city-states. It will be set sometime after "Jon and Celenda" and "Vrenna and the Little King". I have the characters worked out. I have the general story worked out but with enough of a loose grip to toss it if something cooler happens in the writing.

The hardest part is starting. The longest story I ever wrote was The Bear which weighed in at 10,000 words. The story I'm considering is 50,000 or more. And worse, I want to finish it in a month.

You see, November is National Novel Writing Month. Authors from all over the world dare each other to write a short novel within a month. It's the ultimate hammer against procrastination - the death of all great stories.

So what's my plan? I'm going to buy or dig up a full-sized Moleskine lined notebook and fill it up. I figure it holds around 60,000 words in the book. I'll write it by hand with a fountain pen. I'll write ten pages a day; 2,500 words; five days a week for four weeks. At the end of it, I'll have my book.

I won't care if it sucks. I won't care if it gets boring. I won't worry if I didn't plot enough or if I plotted too much or if I'm just ripping off King or Martin or Kurosawa or Sergio Leone. I won't worry if my readers (heh) won't get it or will hate it. I won't care about any of that crap. My job will be to get words on a page and fill ten pages.

I have a month before I start, a month to prepare. In that time I'll get the characters fleshed out, get some details in the settings, come up with a loose outline just for a safety net, write up some ideas for some cool scenes in it, and figure out how the hell I'm going to get ten pages done every day of the week. That's a lot of words.

But I'm going to do it. I'm going to write a novel, damn it.