Monthly Archives: October 2007

Where do you get your ideas?


Answer: I have a fun, but kind of obnoxious habit of making up stories about everything I see or hear, from quick images to family tales or newspaper stories.

Maybe it’s like the old saying of Paul Harvey… and now for the rest of the story.

Once I read a story about how a rich and talented and handsome actor went into drug rehab and I thought, “why would someone with everything be so unhappy to take drugs?” From that I wrote a novel about an attorney who had everything but nothing of substance.

I read the newspaper for stories of the unusual, such as one about a town populated mostly by men (it had a men’s prison,) but I thought, that would be a funny story about a modern town of men and how they feel about having no women around and what they do about it.

Sometimes, it’s a mere image that sets me off. My writing friends and I toured a cemetery of a ghost town and I saw a tree growing out an old grave, so I wrote a poem about a man so mean that when a tree grew out of his grave, it had very shallow roots.

The thing for me is not only reading the news stories or seeing an image, but asking the question, “What if…”

What if I was in that situation?

What if this happened?

What if that happened?

What if it was a town of women instead of men?

Sometimes, the stories get to paper and sometimes, they remain in my head, just waiting for the right time.

So open your eyes for the unusual, or the usual that could turn unusual in your imagination. Learn to observe everything and learn to see when you look. And don’t forget to ask, “What if….”

Patricia Marcantonio


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Filed under Archives 2007, Question of the Month, Writing

What is NaNoWriMo?

What is NaNoWriMo?

Answer: Quoting from the official NaNoWriMo website, National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-the-pants approach to novel writing. If you’ve ever tried to write a novel, you know how daunting the task can be. But Chris Baty, author of No Plot? No Problem! has devised a way to help. For one solid month, those who choose to join the challenge can participate in NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t cost a dime, and the goal of NaNo is to finish 50,000 words in one month. That means beginning November 1 and ending midnight, November 30, you have 30 days to write 50,000 words. Your reward will be a draft of your novel, encouragement from Chris and other NaNoers as you struggle toward the finish line, the right to call yourself a Winner, a web icon for your website, and a NaNoWriMo certificate.

Why, you may ask, would anyone put themselves through such torture? I can offer several reasons. First, in order to produce 50,000 words in one month, which translates into 1,666 words a day, you must turn off your internal editor and keep your fingers moving. There is no time to rewrite or look up misspelled words. Second, this imposes a deadline, which makes it hard to procrastinate. As other NoNoers whiz by you increasing their word count, you have to keep writing to stay in the race. Third, if you make the best use of your time and do this the right way without typing recipes from a cookbook or parts of the Bible, at the end of the month you will have a workable draft you can later turn into a marketable novel. According to the NaNoWriMo website, at least fourteen NaNo participants have published books they started during the NaNo challenge.

Last year I signed up to participate in NaNo, fully intending to complete the challenge. Then I got sick and had to drop out. So I created my own challenge the following April, and to my pleasant surprise completed a draft of a book I have been wanting to write for a couple of years. By turning off my internal editor and meeting my daily writing goal, I was amazed at how much I could get done in one short month! I’m in the process of editing that book now and hope to pitch it at a writer’s conference soon.

If you are interested in testing your own writing skills and like a good challenge, check out NaNoWriMo. Then sit down and start plotting your book right now because November 1 will be here before you know it!

Bonnie Dodge

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Filed under Archives 2007, Question of the Month, Writing