Monday, November 14, 2011

The Number Two Reason NaNoWriMo Rocks

There are a lot of reasons NaNoWriMo is amazing, from permission to suck on the first draft, to the support you receive from writers around the world.
 In my opinion, the second best reason NaNoWriMo is awesome is the existence and amazingness of the forums. In particular, the Reference Desk forum is always a great source of amusement and inspiration.
A quick check this evening revealed questions about:
    • milking a pregnant goat
    • how long it takes a body to decompose to the point where you can't tell how it died
    • what kind of things in an office building you could shoot with a gun and make explode
    • guy’s first romantic/sexual experiences
    • history’s most epic speeches
Some of the questions are funny, some are serious, some are thought-provoking… all are good ways to procrastinate!
On the NaNo site there are also forums dedicated to specific regions, age groups and genres. I was poking around the Fantasy forum a few days ago and found a thread entitled How Can You Not Know That? (aka Fantasy Terminology We All Take For Granted).
While I laughed my way through the long list, I later realized that every group or micro-culture has it’s own specific terminology, often incomprehensible to anyone else.
Fantasy terms include simple nouns and verbs such as mage, scrying, dryad, selkie, and concepts like true name, the good folk etc… It amazed me to think people wouldn’t know these.
So I decided to conduct the highly scientific test of asking my mom. She knew what a mage was, didn’t have a clue what scrying was, and kinda knew what a score was. Here’s a rough transcript of that last conversation:
Me: “Okay, so do you know what a score is?”
My mom: “Yes, but only because of Lincoln. Twenty years, isn’t it?”
Me: “Twenty anything, actually.”
My mom: “Well, I only know it from the declaration of independence.”
Me: “It’s not the Declaration of Independence Mom!”
My mom: “Well, whatever it was with Lincoln.”
Me: “The Gettysburg address?”
My mom: “Yes, that’s it!”
Me: “I didn’t even grow up in the US! You took American history!”
I am a dual Canadian and American citizen, but having grown up in Canada, I think not knowing the origin of the phrase “four score and seven years ago” would be forgivable. In my mother, a naturalized Canadian who studied Lincoln in school, it’s simply hilarious.
In any case, fantasy is only one of the dialects I can comprehend, and one that among my friends isn’t really that obscure. What they don’t know about, however, are writing and in particular fanfiction terms. I’ll use POV in my note-taking and have to explain it to everyone who sees it. To me, POV reads “point of view.” Likewise, MC is “main character.” Other terms, like slash, het, one-shot, lemon etc… will result in blank stares, followed by my often awkward attempts to explain.
On the other hand, I still don’t fully understand my best friend when she talks about sailing, or another friend when he goes on about biking, so I think it must all even out in the end. As always, I wish you all, whoever you are, a happy week. If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, what are you doing here? Go back to writing right now! Err… I mean, good luck, keep up the good work.
Oh yeah, and the number one reason NaNoWriMo rocks? Because it’s writing a novel in 30 days!

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