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Educational Benefits to Writing a Novel

on November 4th, 2009 by Shannon

I am a firm believer in education. After all, I married a teacher. And I work at a child care center, where in between the nose-wiping and getoffyourfriendhedoesn’tlikeitwhenyoubounceonhisheadlikeatrampoline, we do manage the occasional teachable moment. I graduated from high school, completed six years of college, and have since taken classes on everything from grant writing to creative writing, partly in an attempt to keep my brain from atrophying.

Lately, a lot of my education comes through my writing. Since I’ve started on this crazy journey to publication, I’ve written over 30 short stories, four novels, and one novella. And I’ve learned something from every single piece, whether it be a 300 page novel, or a 30 word flash.

Right now, I ‘m working on a 50,000 word masterpiece for NaNoWriMo. (That’s National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated.)  The story is called ‘The Totally True Tales of Tansy Berry, Tooth Fairy.’ And the lesson du jour is character motivation. Mainly, Tansy’s.  I’ll admit my original view of her was somewhat hazy.  I thought she would be quite kick-ass, a little bit sassy and a lot bit funny.

But right now, she’s not anything. It seems that Tansy is refusing to cooperate because ‘we don’t know each other well enough.’

This is my fourth year doing NaNo, and this is the first year I really decided to wing it, with very little in the way of outline or preparation. I had foolishly thought that my characters would reveal themselves to me little by little, through thoughtful prose and pithy dialogue. Instead, they seem to think that it is MY responsibility to figure out what they’re supposed to be doing. And even then,  they aren’t going to do it unless I also figure out why.  So my word count has been much lower than I had anticipated. Because instead of flat-out writing, I’ve spent the past two days putting together of full psychological profile. Of a tooth fairy.

 But you know what? I’m loving it. And at the end of November, I’m going to be a better writer for it.

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Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing

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