Here at Blogcritics, we write reviews of books, but I’m sure plenty of us also want to be the ones that the reviews are written about. I’ve started so many stories that I haven’t finished that I’ve lost count. And that’s the secret to writing (and eventually publishing) a novel: finish what you’ve started. While that doesn’t guarantee that what you’ve written will be good, there are so many books that are published these days that aren’t very good that you’ve got as decent a chance as anybody else. And here’s where NaNoWriMo can help, if you’re like me, who can’t seem to finish what you’ve started, and the idea of a deadline is a motivator.
NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month, takes place every November. The challenge is to write 50,000 words from November 1 – 30. And for support, there are forums on the website where you sign up, talk about yourself, give links to your novel in progress, etc.
Now, to elaborate on my gripe that novels that aren’t very good are being published. I saw the movie The Recruit in January. It was enjoyable if not brilliant with a somewhat poor ending. Yesterday I read the book Loose Lips by Claire Berlinski which was almost identical; one could have been the blueprint for the other. The two are the stories of people who go through the CIA’s clandestine service training program and then end up spying on their significant others. The biggest difference was that The Recruit was about Colin Farrell’s character and Loose Lips was about a woman named Selena. But frankly, her gender had little to no impact on the story. Selena didn’t have any special or interesting or unusual perspectives or insights by being one of the few women in a largely male group.
And the ending of Loose Lips was poor as well. The Recruit‘s ending was sort of over the top, while Loose Lips‘s was ambiguous. Now, ambiguous works for literary works such as Wish You Were Here by Stewart O’Nan. It’s an extremely well-written novel about a family that gathers in their lake cabin one last time after the death of the grandfather. This is a truly dysfunctional group. The siblings fight with each other and their mother, their personal lives are a mess, and their children are budding therapy-cases. In the end, they go back home and nothing is resolved. We don’t find out if any of them improve their lives or their situations, but that’s fine for a book of this type. It’s not fine for a beach book like Loose Lips. Had Berlinski delivered a satisfying ending, maybe I wouldn’t be criticizing it this much, but I felt cheated in the end.
So maybe this can be used as a motivator: believe that you can write something better.