Dec 8, 2014
This podcast includes a roundtable discussion
with Mark Lefebvre, Director of Kobo Writing Life as well as three
other Kobo employees (Bessie, Camille and Shayna) who participated
in NaNoWriMo (National
Novel Writing Month) 2014.
The round table discussion includes the
Camille talks about the fact that during last year’s attempt, she
wrote about 25,000 words and that this year she wrote the entire
50,000 words. This year she took on a completely new project
(rather than attempting the same one she attempted in 2013. Camille
says she felt she got trapped in the wrong direction with last
year’s project, and that might have been what prevented her from
completing the novel. This year, she prepared a synopsis in
advance, and that is what she felt helped her.
This was Shayna’s first attempt at NaNoWriMo – though she has
written novels before – and she wasn’t sure, going in, how she
would do with the 30 day deadline involved. Though she completed the 50,000
word limit, she is still, in no way finished the book she is
working on. (She
estimates the book’s length will be in the realm of 100,000
Bessie, a self-confessed math nerd, admits this is the first time
she has attempted writing of this nature. The whole experience was
new to her and when it first started she was quite excited and
wrote quite a bit, but then the “fun” aspect fell away, and so,
too, did the writing. Her feeling was that the pressure of the
deadline pushed her in the opposite direction – now that November
and the NaNoWriMo deadline is out of the way, the writing has
become fun for her again.
Mark got to 50,000 words at the “11th hour” cranking out
close to 18,000 words in the final two days, so did complete the
goal, but is still several thousand words away from the conclusion
of his novel.
Shayna found that the deadline worked for her, despite her initial
thoughts that it wouldn’t be a good experience for her.
The group discussed the question about pre-planning and reveal who
was a “pantser” and who was a “plotter” – who went just from notes
and who created a chapter by chapter outline
How the roadmap of the chapter by chapter outline helped Camille,
even though she didn’t follow it precisely the entire time.
The fun that can happen when your characters make their own
decisions and take you to places or situations that you hadn’t
originally intended or planned.
How Shayna doesn’t always have her characters completely fleshed
out in advance and how they discover their own voice as the story
There is a discussion regarding whether or not they approached
writing their novels in a linear fashion (ie, from the beginning of
the novel to the end of the novel in the manner it would be read),
or if they skipped around and wrote a number of scenes to be pieced
into order for the final draft later.
Conventions of inserting notes into the manuscript in order to keep
writing, such as Mark’s use of inserting square brackets [with a
note like this] inside the text for spots in which he might need to
do research later on and fill in gaps, or Shayna’s use of the
letters TK as inserted into the text to denote spots that required
filling in later (based on the principle that this is a very
uncommon letter combination – thus, searching the document text
later for ‘TK’ returns those spots you need to find and fill
The importance of avoiding the research rabbit-hole that can happen
to a writer, but with an example of how one of those rabbit holes
actually helped inspire Mark with an entire scene (based just on
looking at a particular area of Toronto using Google Maps)
A discussion of what’s next for these particular book projects now
that NaNoWriMo is over.
Is it harder to write serious literary fiction as opposed to some
of the other more “fun” genres
The answer to the question: What was one thing that you learned
from NaNoWriMo that you’re going to take forward in your
Mark then discusses the concept of “winning”
or “losing” NaNoWriMo, with a thought that, ANYTHING you wrote
during NaNoWriMo, regardless of your final word count, means that
you are a winner. Drawing from his own personal experience of
having “not won” NaNoWriMo in 2006, yet managed to take the project
he had started more than half a dozen years ago and work it into a
novel that will be coming out in 2015, means the effort he put into
it back then was part of the process of getting that novel done,
and well worth it.
Shayna's KWL article entitled "Dear Writing: I Hate You!"
The KWL article Shayna wrote about the importance of
Mark's appearance on The Writing Show podcast (in 2006) in which he
did NOT win NaNoWroMo