Write a Science Fiction Novel in 30 Days?

Bonnie Burton | November 12, 2008

While some people think of November as a month full of good food and holiday shopping, some of us are hunched over our laptops attempting to write a novel in 30 days. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short). NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty started the group to inspire would-be authors to quit talking about writing the next Great American Novel, and just do it. Participants attempt to write 50,000 words of an entirely new novel, with little or no planning — all in one month!

For those fans who want to be the next Matthew Stover, Aaron Allston or Timothy Zahn, this is a great opportunity to work on your writing chops and have a support group of fellow NaNoWriMos to cheer you on.

io9.com chats with Chris Baty and gets some advice for sci-fi writers who want to try their hand at penning a book in a month.


With science fiction writers, there’s often a lot of additional work going on: worldbuilding, creating new technology. Do you find that NaNoWriMo helps with that, or is it a hindrance to writing the novel?

Yeah, that’s a good question and you’re right. It’s interesting. I think certain genres lend themselves a little bit better to NaNoWriMo than others. Like mysteries are really – if you don’t know whodunit when you’re writing it, you’re kind of in trouble as a mystery writer. And I think science fiction writers – there’s worldbuilding – they do have a little more work to do. But I think the nice thing about NaNoWriMo for worldbuilders is it’s so easy to get bogged down in this sense of “I really need to understand the mechanics of spaceflight for this particular craft before I’m able to move forward in my story.” And I think that you can spend your entire life basically trying to populate these worlds and try to understand how the various technologies interact, how the various organisms, and all that stuff and at a certain point it just becomes an impediment to actually writing your book rather than something that enhances your ability to write.

And I think that NaNoWriMo is good for science fiction writers in that sense that it’s kind of like “Okay, enough planning. It’s time to take this show on the road and actually get your story written.” And I think that’s also true for writing historical fiction. They get caught in that same infinite research loop where you really can take a century to try to map out the exact kind of wunderbust that your character would be carrying or whether the buttons on their pants would be made of elephant tusk or brass. And I think in some ways that sort of hides the point of the story. You don’t necessarily need to know how that creature breathes or something.

Read the full interview here:
NaNoWriMo’s Chris Baty Explains How to Write a Science Fiction Epic in 30 Days (io9.com)

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