Anne Bean

I make delicious words. // I make words delicious.

NaNoWriMo 2014

It’s November in Seattle, which means a time of rain, darkness, and frantic novel-writing. Seriously, art is how people survive through the winter in the Pacific Northwest. Whether that’s writing, music, knitting, carving, or painting, art has gotten people through the dark of these short winter days for a long time. Last year I wrote down every time I did creative practice on a little slip of paper and put it in a jar, like picked root vegetables. I believe that done without expectation of quality or result, the practice of creating can be a great way to push back despair. Ironically, of course, the difficulty of creating at all, much less of letting go of the expectation of quality or result, is a great cause of despair. I always hope the two balance each other out.

credit: Chris Vlachos via Wikipedia

credit: Chris Vlachos via Wikipedia

This year I’m writing a comic script, although if the word count becomes too oppressive I’ve given myself permission to also write “in-world documents,” i.e. characters’ letters, journals, newspaper clippings, etc. First off, it turns out that since I am not Alan Moore, individual script pages don’t have that many words on them. So far I’ve averaged 150-300 words per page, which shakes out to 7ish pages of script per day, which is a decent amount of story. I figure I’ll get somewhere between six and twelve issues out of November, which isn’t actually my whole story. Interesting to feel out pacing in this new genre of speed-drafting. I feel like if other (fiction) NaNos have been running a marathon, this is like backpacking a long trail–different pacing, same idea.

Anyway, thankfully I have some really great gear to help me this year: Scrivener.

CorkboardIt’s a free program during the month of November for a NaNoWriMo trial, then 50% off if you win. In general it’s a pretty affordable program for what it does, which is a lot:

  • Scrivener lets me arrange my scenes on a virtual cork-board (or as an outline), with each scene displayed with a summary on an “index card.” This lets me outline my comics and then choose which scenes I want to write first.
  • Each page can contain marginal notes, or pictures, research links, or lists of themes.
  • There’s also a spot for character sketches and setting descriptions.
  • Actually writing in comic script format is easy. First of, there *is* a comic script format, which is at this point pretty huge. It’s the Anthony Johnson style, which I find approachable. I think it’d be possible to set your own style if you wanted to do a different format, but I haven’t yet gotten that far with the program. Regardless, it will save me hours of formatting in Microsoft Word, which is usually accompanied by screaming and/or slow brain death.

So that’s what I’m up to for NaNoWriMo. If you’re also doing NaNoWriMo, or if you just want some craft resources, I figured I’d ridiculously self-promote by reminding y’all of craft articles I’ve written that might be helpful.

Three-Act Structure

The Interrupter in Scenes

Fiction, How Does It Work (with lots of Kate Beaton cartoons to help explain stuff)

Writing from your characters’ POVs subjectively

Writing Dynamic Female Characters

A Nice Example of the Major Dramatic Question and Passover Question

Using Symbolic Props

and finally

Using Fraggle Rock as a Character Creation Model


And if you’re tired of hearing me yammer, go check out Bob and Jack’s Writing Blog, which is a treasure trove of great craft articles, including many specific to memoirists.

Happy Writing!


  1. Scrivener is great – I tested it out when it first started, but ultimately went with Storyist for my writing endeavors. Last I checked it didn’t have a comic script format, though. But, I do feel compelled to point out that it, too, is available for testing during the month of November, and can be purchased for a 25% discount this month as well.

    I chose Storyist over Scrivener so many years ago I can’t remember exactly why – could be because it was designed to be Mac-friendly, but it essentially does all the same things as Scrivener.

    Just another option if people are interested! 🙂

    Oh, and there’s also this thing called OmmWriter that acts as a simple word processor that blocks out everything else that could distract you on your computer, as well as providing “soothing sounds” while you write. I find it’s a good way to keep me focused when I need to pound out a bunch of words really fast.

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