The idea behind National Novel Writing Month is that many of us have at least one book inside of us, but we're too lazy to spend the time to write it, or simply get overcome by the scope of it all—so it ultimately never materializes. NaNoWriMo challenges that, by encouraging participants to throw caution to the wind and write without revising, without obsessing over what they're writing, but to just get the words out. (There'll be plenty of time to edit it after the month is up.)
Even though it is called "National" Novel Writing Month, entries are accepted from countries other than the U.S.A and in languages other than English. note
NaNoWriMo also had a sister event called Script Frenzy, with a similar goal, but executed in script format. It ran in April every year from 2007, but was ultimately discontinued in 2012. The RPM Challenge is the musical equivalent to NaNoWriMo, in which budding musicians record and mix an album of 10 songs during the month of February.
Examples of tropes exhibited by NaNoWriMo:
- Artifact Title: National Novel Writing Month occurs in multiple countries.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: When pressed for wordcounts, some authors insert their personal thoughts into the story, directly addressing the audience or characters as a writer. It quickly becomes Hilarious in Hindsight.
- Chandler's Law: "If all else fails, have a band of ninjas attack somebody" is official advice for writers at a loss for material to further their novel's word count.
- Constrained Writing: The entire point of the challenge is to see if you can write a 50,000 word novel in the span of only a month.
- Cosmetic Award: Zigzagged.
- Played straight on the site itself. The first and foremost prize for completing the NaNoWriMo challenge is... the mere satisfaction of completing it. But to show you've done it, your word count meter turns purple, and you can print out a certificate that proves it.
- Some of Nanowrimo's sponsors, on the other hand, offer slightly more tangible prizes for winning, which would avert this. CreateSpace offers to print up two free copies of a winner's manuscript, and Scrivener offers their writing software for half price.
- Determinator: Anyone who actually finishes a novel. Writing 1,667 words a day (on average) may not seem very hard, but doing it every day, for a whole month (especially a month with a holiday and new television season) takes dedication!
- Dissimile and Metaphorgotten: Two of the ways that Nanoisms can manifest in a novel.
- Filk Song: Complete list.
- Gratuitous Ninja: Make a band of ninjas attack somebody during a novel and you should at least be able to get a few hundreds words out of characters wondering "seriously? Ninjas?"
- I Just Write the Thing: A common discussion topic on the forums.
- In-Joke: Many, including the terms "nanoism" (bloopers that occur while writing) and "persimmons" (see Memetic Mutation). There is also the character Mr. Ian Woon, a Significant Anagram of "NaNoWriMo".
- It's the Journey That Counts: A major contributing factor to starting the challenge is that most new writers won't try to write something this long on their own because it's so intimidating. By giving new writers a challenge, advice, and a space to do it, you'll learn far more about writing and your style than many other methods of learning.
- It's for a Book: The official website has several forum sections dedicated to this purpose, some less realistic than the others.
- Knight Templar: Knights of NaNoWriMo
- Memetic Mutation: "Permissions" to reproduce a user's Nanoisms in published form quickly became "persimmons", and have since mutated into frankensteinian concoctions like "permapurplepomewhatsits".
- Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: ... actually, no one really cares if you do, either. There is even a forum just for "Nano Rebels". In a sense, NaNoers are actively encouraged to "cheat" by artificially inflating their wordcounts—No Plot? No Problem, the semi-official handbook by Chris Baty, NaNoWriMo's creator, offers several tips on how to do this.
- You're supposed to start a new novel on November 1st, but some people continue working on the same novel (not a sequel) as the previous year(s).
- Writing nonfiction, a collection of short stories, a memoir, or a script (they had another event for that last one).
- No Pronunciation Guide: It can be pronounced Na-No-Rye-Mo, or Na-No-Ree-Mo. The official FAQ used to state that the former was correct, but the latter was still acceptable.
- Portmantitle: the official nickname NaNoWriMo falls somewhere between "portmanteau" and "acronym".
- Self-Deprecation: Participants tend to frequently criticise their own novel's plot, characters, and (especially) blunders — but mostly in good humor; blunders in particular are lovingly christened "Nanoisms" (allegedly a portmanteau of "Nanowrimo" and "aneurysm").
- Self-Imposed Challenge:
- Some users set a personal goal of a "Double Nano" (100,000 words in 30 days!) or more — 200,000? 500,000? Yup. So far, the absolute record is someone writing 1,500,000 words in November 2014, which quite literally amounts to writing 50,000 every day. It was so high, the counters on the site plain refused to show that.
- There's also a Dares thread in just about every genre forum, where users think up crazy stunts for other users to insert into their novels.
- Then there are #50kDay and #50kweekend, which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Sturgeon's Law: First-time participants are advised that at least 45,000 words of their novel (if not all 50,000) will be "utter crap", and to learn to love it anyway.
- Technician vs. Performer: Nanowrimo, as an exercise, rewards the high energy and creative abandon of a "Performer" mindset, but this difference is still present in the "Planner" and "Pantser" camps. Planners completely plan out their novel in advance, and their creative energy goes into filling out their outline with vigor. Pantsers will "fly by the seat of their pants," perhaps with a couple of ideas in hand, but mainly charging forward on November 1 with no idea whatsoever of what they will create. There's a third camp between the two called "Plantsers," which are people who have a few of the big beats and general idea of a story's direction planned out, but how it's going to get there is going to be made up on the fly. And most Nanoers are happy to change their strategy if it helps them win or seems more fun.
- The Insomniac: Most NaNoers become this pretty quickly!
- Thread Hopping: When the quick reply method was still around, some users would just read the first post, scroll to the quick reply section of the page, and reply without reading any of the other responses, especially for threads of the "share with the group" nature.
- TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life: And your wordcount, too. Seriously, try writing 1,667 words a day when you're already spending two hours here wondering what, exactly, makes trope X take form Y in scene Z.
- The Wiki Rule: The (unofficial) WikiWrimo wiki.
- Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: "No plot, no problem" is the semi-official motto. The challenge itself encourages people to not go back and edit their work ("there'll be time for that later"), and just get the first draft of their story out of the way.
Examples of tropes exhibited by NaNoToons (a comic about NaNoWriMo that used to be hosted on the website, now hosted here as of 2012):
- Dumb Blonde - Bea and Carol.
Jen: Haven't you always wanted to write a book?Carol: Not in a month.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Victoria says this about her fellow ML Andrew, and even her real boyfriend Dave makes fun of her for it.
- Humanity Is Insane - At least the part that is devoted to NaNoWriMo (which is all of the cast except Dave).
Dave: Are all NaNo people crazy?
- I Resemble That Remark!: Invoked, sort of used.
- Minimalist Cast - In 2010, only four characters are ever named: Dave, Rob, Jen and Victoria the ML.
- Averted in 2011: now we also see Andrew, Bea and Carol.
- Missing Episode - A good deal of 2010 daily NaNoToons are hosted only on the Toronto NaNo website.
- Pirates Who Don't Do Anything - The 2012 Na No Toons joke that the characters don't seem to be writing very much.
- Two Gamers on a Couch - Dave and Rob.