By ALYSSA MURPHY
I'm a few days late, but Happy November! - the craziest month of the year for me.
For writers around the world, November becomes National Novel Writing Month, more commonly known as NaNoWriMo. It serves as a challenge to write 1,667 words a day on average so that by the end of the month, a 50,000-word novel is produced.
It's ambitious, but somehow possible.
I've completed the task twice - November of last year and August of this year, which was known as Camp NaNoWriMo.
This November I will be doing it again and I've been asked to write a column about my progress and the progress of the Williamsport Writers, a group of people in the Lycoming County-Lock Haven area, who also will be doing this crazy task.
Due to production schedules, I'll be writing each column a week in advance, so you'll have to wait on the edge of your seat to see if we succeed.
So while you're reading this on the fourth day of NaNoWriMo and I hopefully will be reaching my goal of 6,668 words today, I actually have not even started writing yet.
Consider me your time traveler, telling you all about the past.
While the name NaNoWriMo suggests those participating think about this all month long, it actually extends beyond that.
I have been letting my idea for this year's NaNo simmer in the back of my head since mid-August.
I haven't given it a lot of thought, but it's been there.
In October, I really wanted to settle down and plot it out, after encouragement from one of the Williamsport area municipal liaisons, Amanda C. Davis.
I've always been what's known as a "pantser," as in, "flying by the seat of your pants."
I wrote a very rough draft in August for Camp NaNoWriMo, with just a vague fragment for each of the first few chapters. It wasn't much, but it really helped.
My past two novels have been "Chick Lit" or female fiction or whatever other name is out there.
Since my newest one is a sci-fi action-adventure, I knew I would have to plot this time, because there is no way I would be able to remember everything.
I looked through a lot of tips I found on the Internet and Twitter. I tried some, modified some and completely disregarded others.
I wish I could tell all of the people who are hesitant to try writing a novel the best ways to plot one, but I'm still trying to discover that myself.
Making character profiles has helped.
Previously I would rush in, come up with some name on the fly and make up that person as I write.
That didn't work for me because halfway through the novel, I completely forgot what everyone looked like.
My character profiles are simple. I played with the names, something I find extremely important. I like having a character name represent in some very small, subtle way who that character is.
For instance, my main character of this novel is named Aria, which means a solo melody. My character is a loner, so I like having "solo" in the meaning, even if it does not refer to what I want it to.
I spent a lot of time trying to find a person who fit the physical description in my head. That way if I forget, I can look up what that person looks like and remember Aria has blonde hair and green eyes.
I am nowhere near finished and hopefully writing this column will inspire me to finish plotting before you read this.
It never is too late to start though.
If you read this and feel inspired to get started on that novel you've been thinking about, do it.
Feel free to meet the Williamsport Writers and ask your questions.
We meet from 7 to 10 p.m. on Tuesdays at Wegmans in Williamsport; 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays at Dunkin Donuts in Lock Haven; and 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays at Panera Bread in Williamsport.
You also can sign up on NaNoWriMo.org to start your novel, meet people in similar situations and get help when you feel stuck.
For more information about the Williamsport Writers, follow @WmsportNano.
If you want more up-to-date information about my progress or just want to see how I use Twitter as a distraction during NaNoWriMo, follow me at @MurphyAlyssa.