Friday, November 4, 2011

Write What You NaNo guest blogger: Alex J. Cavanaugh

Sniff...sniff... It's here. The final post for my Write What You NaNo BlogParty. I hope you all had fun these past two weeks, reading your fellow blogger/NaNoers' trials and tribulations when it comes to NaNo. But oh, boy! Did I save a great one for last or what?! I'm pleased as punch to welcome quite possibly the internet's nicest guy, Alex J. Cavanaugh to the blog! Alex is here as the poster child (next to Steph Sinkhorn) for the yet-to-be-created "NaNo Novels DO Get Published" campaign that I just invented. Welcome, Alex!

NaNo Novels Can Rock!

There are those that believe a NaNo manuscript can’t be good - that it’s merely practice and not a marketable idea. After all, it’s rushed. It’s sloppy. It probably goes in a million different directions. It couldn’t possibly form a coherent novel.

Well, I’m here to tell you not only is a NaNo manuscript salvageable, but it just might rock!

Let’s consider some of the strikes against it.

Yes, if you’re writing on the fly, a NaNo story can wander all over the map. En route, you might have a stroke of genius though. Of course, I am a big believer in forming a plan and outline before beginning. Just something to give you direction and a target to hit.

Now, the speed at which you have to compete a NaNo work is actually a good thing. There’s no time for editing, so you just write. (And there’s hardly even time for writer’s block!) You’re working on it every day, so the storyline remains fresh in your mind. The intense focus is like a fire under your seat, fueling enthusiasm and determination. You get it done!

I won’t argue that the end result is a mess. But, all first drafts are far from perfect, right? And the cleanup process includes the same steps - rewriters, edits, critiques, rewrites, edits, test readers, more edits…

It might require a little more effort than normal, but don’t let anyone tell you a novel written during NaNo can only suck.

You know why I believe NaNo novels can rock?

Because on February 28, 2012, my second novel, CassaFire, will be released by Dancing Lemur Press, LLC. And you know when I wrote it? Last year during NaNo 2010.

Take that naysayers!

This is Ninja Captain Alex telling you that your NaNo manuscript can rock.

Now, get to writing!

 Alex J. Cavanaugh is known online as Ninja Captain Alex. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. An avid blogger, he hosts blogfests, other authors, and the Insecure Writer’s support Group. His first book, CassaStar, was released October 2010, and the sequel, CassaFire, comes out February 28, 2011.


  1. Alex, I agree that there are many Nano MS that do get published. I know several writers who have.

    One the good things about Nano is you don't have time to second guess yourself. You write and because it's fast--1600 words a day--you live with your characters and so it flows. I'm a pantzer, but I know several writers, like you, that spend time a couple months ahead to outline and get their research in order.

    My motto is: Whatever works.

    Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

  2. Alex - I agree!!!
    Although I don't have a track record to prove my thoughts, I do have a couple of messy rough drafts that took my 3-5 years to write, and then I have one messy rough draft from NaNo last year. My NaNo2010 book is on it's second draft now, and it took me only a year to get that far. I feel like I'm farther ahead with it than I ever was with the junk I wrote slowly.

    Now, back to that next novel (the sequel to the one I haven't polished enough yet)

  3. Great post! I think it's great fun to just be in first draft writing mode without worrying about perfection at all.

  4. Sia, whatever works!

    Tyre an, my second book took much less time than my first for that very reason.

    Tonja, I don't worry!

  5. Great post and--chiming in late--great blog party! I have to go back and read all your previous NaNo posts, now.

    First, though, I wanted to let you know that I gave you a blog award over on MY blog.

    Second, where did you find your word count widget? I want one, but there isn't one posted on the NaNoWriMo site yet :P

    Happy writing!

  6. Even a non-NaNo novel can be all over the map. It's what the writer does with it after it's done. You done right.

    Wrote By Rote

  7. Very inspiring post Captain Alex! NaNo is tough, but great rewards can be had.

    Awesome blog TL! I look forward to coming back.

  8. Lee, exactly!

    Melissa, thanks.

    And thanks again, TL.

  9. What great inspiration! Thanks Alex, and thanks TL, for hosting the Captain!

  10. NaNo is a time to write the first draft of a MS. First drafts are never good...whether they're written during NaNo or any other time of the year. They usually suck. BUT, they give us a starting point to revise, rewrite and edit. That has to be done no matter what novel you write. NaNo works. If a person is prepared, has an outline and solid idea - NaNo is a great time to bang out a first draft.

    Author of Concilium, available July 2012
    Concilium: The Departure, November 2012

  11. I didn't know Alex wrote that during NaNo. I think I know of one other person at least who wrote a novel during NaNo last year and is having it published. It can work, if that's the kind of writer you are and have pretty good organizational skills. Leaves me out. :P

  12. I used to have a pretty harsh inner editor during drafts. It was so paralyzing, I would hardly ever finish anything. NaNoWriMo completely broke me of that habit, so if I gain nothing else the effort is completely worth it!

  13. I mean, Water for Elephants alone should be proof that not all NaNo novels suck. Heck, my NaNo 2010 novel got a crap load of full requests before i paused in my querying. I think it all just depends on the skills of the writer.
    Can't wait to read Cassafire!

  14. Hey, that's awesome. Somehow I missed that CassaFire came to life during Nano. I've got a modified version of Nano that's working for me right now---I guess you could call it an NaAuSeOcNo. :)

  15. Alex truly is one of the nicest guys on the internet!

    And Alex, I absolutely agree with all your points. Moving quickly prevents me from rehashing every single line. I just move forward, forward, forward! And I totally remember when you were writing CassaFire last year. It's so cool that it'll be out soon!

  16. Yes! NaNo novels can rock! NaNo is more of a motivator than anything--to get it done. Then the real hard work begins after November when we clean up our mess.

  17. Michelle, exactly.

    Thanks, Sarah!

    Nicki, you rebel.

    Julie, thank you so much!

    Thanks everyone!

  18. Cheryl, I'm not sure what word count widget you mean... I don't recall seeing one on Alex's page, but I may have missed it.

    Nicki, "NaAuSeOcNo" is hilarious. And oh, so true!

    Thank you everyone for the comments!

  19. Congratulations on getting your nano story published. I didn't know that about Casa Fire.

  20. Draven, that's when I wrote it! I give all the credit to my awesome critique partners - Jeffrey, Rusty, and Anne.

    Thanks again, TL!


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