Man writes full novel in month’s time
SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Before Doug White heads to bed tonight, he will have written 2 000 words of his third novel.
Before the month comes to an end, he will have completed it, at 50 000 words long.
This is the third year that the Sioux Falls software developer has written a novel during NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. His first book, The Habitué, is available in hard cover and online; his second is waiting to be edited.
The annual November writing project is designed to bring together professional and amateur writers around the world with one goal: to write a novel in a month’s time, the Argus Leader reported.
“Nobody is monitoring you, but you write 2 000 to 2 500 words a day,” White says. “If you do that until the end of the month, that’s roughly 50 000 words. They tell you to lock away your inner editor, so they may not be very good. It takes lots of work to massage a novel and make it your own.”
White had half a dozen helpers willing to massage The Habitué: his wife, Norene, and the members of his independent writing group, which meets twice a month to share what they are working on.
“This year, we’ve decided we’re going to take the month of November off,” White says. “Some do NaNoWriMo; others set their own project. It’s a big commitment. There is a youth version of NaNoWriMo for kids who are interested.”
When it’s time for his daily writing session, White retreats to his “man cave” in his house’s basement in the evening after dining with his wife and two daughters, Lynea, 17, and Nora, 13. Not everyone has the luxury of privacy, however, and that’s why Siouxland Libraries is offering a series of free write-ins this month.
It was offered for the first time last year, inspired by library associate Jeri Light, says Prairie West branch director Krystal Pederson.
“She was passionate about getting this going,” Pederson says. “We’re doing it because we hold books, and we know how hard it can be to get published. We want to support our customers in whatever form. If we can help them make that dream come true by providing the space, then we want to do that.”
The library write-ins, offered at three facilities, provide writers a space away from at-home distractions, says Bethany Osberg, a library assistant at the downtown branch.
“It’s an opportunity to talk with other writers and bounce ideas off each other,” she says. “We also have a lot of great resources and different books about writing. You can flip through your favorite books and see what your favorite authors do to get inspiration.”
Osberg intends to take part in NaNoWriMo herself, although as the month begins, she admits that all she has is a blank screen.
“I’ve tried a couple years in the past, but I just didn’t get very far,” Osberg says. “I was writing alone. I’m hoping this year that taking part in write-ins when I’m not working will help that.”
White will begin this NaNoWriMo with a rough outline already sketched out in his head. It will center on an apartment complex, where eight children awake in the middle of a blizzard to find themselves abandoned by their parents. He already has named the children, using the first names of his daughters and six of their cousins.
“They’ll wake up and be stuck and have to figure out what happened to their parents,” White says.
The book will fit into the science fiction genre, and by November’s end White will know if it also could be included in the YA, or young adult, canon.
The Habitué falls in that category, while his unpublished novel, Familiar Strangers, is sci-fi. White started “The Habitué” knowing only that he wanted it to include a well.
The final plot focuses on a boy named Ben Boarman, and the book opens on Halloween. While he and his sister are trick-or-treating, a woman warns him to be careful of the well. That night, he receives a cryptic message and develops an other-worldly ability.
Familiar Strangers involves a mystery and a preacher who realized the perpetrators are not all from this planet.
White, 45, always has been interested in writing. As a child, he would paste stories in his house windows to give trick-or-treaters something to read. He entered a contest seeking 69-word stories — that’s right, only 69 — and it was published in the sponsoring magazine.
Much of the year he concentrates on longer short stories, but November is time for a novel.
“For people who want to do it, this is a great way to do it if they just set time away,” White says. “Two years ago I didn’t have a novel; now I have two.”