At ABAM, every month is NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month (as weirdo longhanders call it), is a curious thing to me.
It is of course very cool to give people an excuse to get that novel out, just as I’m sure ‘Movember’ is a great excuse to grow a mustache. But what if you already have a mustache and are already writing?
50,000 words is also an odd target. Sure, it’s the line where a novella becomes a novel, but not all stories have to be 50,000 words, just like movies don’t have to be two hours, and Netflix is proving TV shows don’t have to be 22 or 44 minutes. Stories are organic, they’ll last as long as they want, as long as the plot winds and characters evolve.
That mindset is obviously coming from a screen sensibility. With novel/las you have the luxury of being able to delve inside the heads of characters, provide insight into the motivations or give the equivalent of a voiceover that would get tiresome or laborious if put on screen. But why enforce a target at all? Maybe this is my (self-diagnosed) autistic RobotBrain talking, but is it so hard to write without a goal? And while we’re talking about limits, why just one month? Obviously it works for those that are goal-oriented or like to gamify life, but that leaves a whole 11 months of the year without a target to reach.
None of the BAMs I’ve got lined up look like they’re going to hit the ‘novel’ 50k word limit. I think the most plot-heavy one so far is going to cruise in at 45k at best, and that’s a story I boiled down from six hours / episodes of television into the equivalent of a two and a half hour movie.
The six hour version, the 350ish pages of teleplay that nobody bought, is insanely dense with micro-plots and side-quests that in retrospect feel like filler. They built bits of character and added some depth to the world, but in such a minuscule way that I had no problem culling them when it came to trying to turn the show-that-never-happened into a book.
So, back to NaNoWriMo’s 50k word goal.
Does setting yourself a bar like that lead to excessive over-verbification and nounery?
The first decision I made when throwing myself at this ABAM project was that each book should be at least 15,000 words. Of course, most of them will be closer to 25-40k, but 15,000 is at least 75-90 minutes of reading (depending on speed of the reader), and as I’m sure I’ll keep saying, the full length BAMs are basically prose-movies, so that’s in keeping with basic movie length rules.
As you can tell, I’ve spent too much time thinking about this. I’ve also written 3000+ words today and proofread the final draft of the very first BAM, which may I remind you, is out on January 4th, and you can pre-order now!
Meanwhile, Monday will bring the start of the promotional rollercoaster for ‘@’, which will see the site filling with the soundtrack, sample chapter and trailer, to hopefully get your juices flowing for the launch of this exciting (and only slightly insane) project in something like eight weeks.
Happy Wednesday to you all, and see you next time!