Saturday, September 26, 2009


Given Nano is just over a month away, I was thinking about writing. Writers always think about writing whether they know it or not: scenes flicker through the mind, characters come along and snuggle down in a corner to mature, dialogue pops up from conversations overheard... It's there.

So I thought, do engineers constantly think of... engineering things? Do accountants think of numbers, physicists of formulae, geologists of rocks, sport professionals of sport? Do people always think of aspects of their chosen careers?

I think it's what directs us in life, to what we genuinely want to grow up to be.

Writers are a curious breed, we not only need to understand the language in which we write, but also the subject matter; imagination isn't enough. We have to acquire a working knowledge of the subject, how a bridge is constructed so we can collapse it, how accountancy works so we can defraud, how to break the laws of physics, whether granite is more dense than concrete to gauge shrapnel, the rules or physical requirements of baseball, football or curling so we can introduce a player who isn't atypical.

A writer doesn't need multiple degrees to work in the craft, but they do need to know how to research the subject; basically they need to lie well enough that the reader will believe.

Without this skill, Harry Potter would have been just another children's book, Bella and Edward, just another angst-ridden teenaged couple, Robert Langdon would be an ordinary symbol interpreter. I should note I've only read Harry Potter, but the popularity surrounding all the books is staggering, thus demonstrating just how effective research, imagination and technique can be.

Nano is an opportunity for first time writers and experienced hacks like me. An idea is nothing until it is given a forum - and Nano is the perfect arena for those ideas to be given life.

Consider the goal - 50,000 words. Consider the time frame - one month. And before you defeat yourself by wondering if you can do it, consider the prize - a book, or a large chunk of one.

Imagination is now, for Nano; the research and techniques can wait for December, or January when the smug has worn thin... or maybe that's just me?

No comments: