November is novel writing month!

No Plot, No Problem by Chris BatyI have come to Monkey Valley for the month of November to work on a writing project that I’ve had in mind since September 2007. It has taken a while to get up to speed with this project; I’ll tell you more about that later. But the cool thing is that some friends are also writing this month, and the inspiration that brings is incredible! My friend Kim Ashley in Grass Valley, CA is working on her PhD dissertation, on themes revolving around the vision quest. And my friend Mike Reynolds in Vancouver is working on a novel.

Mike told me about a book called No Plot? No Problem! It is written by San Francisco author Chris Baty, founder of the National Novel Writing Month. November is that month! Can you believe it, people all around the world are writing novels right now!! According to the website for NaNoWriMo, people who are writing their novels have already written 1,172,613,912 words in November 2010! The best part is, everyone who completes 50,000 words by the end of November is a winner!

It is very inspiring to talk to my friends on the phone about how our writing is going (or not going), and I am sure that there is a world-wide energy that is supporting us all to write. Thanks, Chris Baty! I hope I can ride that wave and get a good start on my book. But for today, I’m noodling around on my blog…

Chris asks “What makes a good novel, to you?” And I thought it would be fun to think about this, even though I am writing creative non-fiction, not a novel. So here are my answers. What are yours?

  • interesting characters
  • strong women characters
  • insights into human nature that help me understand people and the world better
  • a sense of people really interacting with each other—lots of dialogue
  • funny dialogue or situations that make me laugh out loud
  • a sense of the goodness of human nature (I believe this arises out of the goodness of the nature of the author)
  • set in a time or place I’ve never been in so I learn about it—details that help me see it and believe it’s real
  • some tension, but not too much

This got me thinking about favourite novels:

Favourite novels from childhood

  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Noah’s Castle by John Rowe Townsend
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Everything by Enid Blyton, especially the adventure series and the boarding school mysteries

Favourite novels from adolescence and adulthood

  • The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • The Tent Peg & everything by Aritha van Herk
  • The Accidental Tourist & everything by Anne Tyler
  • Most everything by Agatha Christie
  • Everything by Janet Evanovich
  • Everything by Alexander McCall Smith

Looking at these titles, I see a theme of enjoying fantasy, humour, mystery, and the absurd. I guess life is serious and difficult enough; when I’m reading a novel I want pleasure, some intelligence but not too much, and I love a good mystery! What about you, dear reader? Who are your favourite authors? What are your favourite novels? I invite you to comment and share the wonders with the incredibly wide readership of this blog!

And if you feel like you’ve always wanted to write a novel, you don’t have to wait until next November to do it, but you could!