Final Prompts and Thoughts for NaNoWriMo 2012

by syaffolee

Here are the final writing prompts I posted on NaNoWordSprints. Hopefully I’ll get invited back to do more next year. I had fun with the infectious energy that live sprinting brought to the whole event.

If you missed the previous prompt lists, here’s Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4

November 29, 10:00pm-1:00am (UTC -7)
Edward Gorey and The Love Boat Mashup

  • Include a fur coat, a pair of tennis shoes, and/or cats. (12 min)
  • The fatal lozenge, the obsequious runt, and/or a belated cover-up. (20 min)
  • Martini glass, married ladies, and/or the gilded bat. (30 min)
  • A kiss, the evil garden, and/or the blue aspic. (5 min)
  • The epiplectic bicycle, the iron tonic, and/or a sneaky detective. (15 min)
  • Bad pickup lines, shoes, a loathsome couple, and/or the fraught settee. (30 min)
  • A captain (every cruise ship has a captain!), the retrieved locket, and/or the unknown vegetable. (5 min)
  • Cruise director, bad itineraries, dancing cats and neglected murderesses, and/or the just dessert. (15 min)

November 30, 11:00pm-1:00am (UTC -7)
The Snowmen of Calvin and Hobbes

  • “Oh yeah? Define ‘well-adjusted.'” (10 min)
  • “Sure, and what about shoveling one’s genetic material off the walk?” (10 min)
  • “Later bedtimes, fewer baths.” (17 min)
  • “I don’t think the schools assign enough homework.” (15 min)
  • “Eggplant casserole tonight?” (5 min)
  • “Why does he have a hot water bottle on his head?” (22 min)

* * *

I’ve been thinking back to one of the sprint sessions I did–the interactive fiction one where I asked followers where to go next to determine the next prompt. And as someone who has dabbled in interactive fiction off and on and never really finished a game, I thought this might be a cool idea to actually implement. If I do this and actually intend to finish, I’d probably end for completion by next year. You know, if anyone is even willing to beta test it.

* * *

Novel-wise, I think this year pretty much marks the end of an era. As in–I will probably not post any of my stories up in their entirety any more. It’s not that I don’t want anyone to read my stuff. It’s that almost no one does (although you would have thought that I learned my lesson the first year I did NaNoWriMo back in 2001). Also, I’ve gotten used to only posting excerpts the rest of the year when I participated in NaNoWriMo spin-off events. And I’ve gotten lazy at updating.

This year’s novel, however, needs a lot of work. I did quite a bit of research before I even started writing it. And while writing it, I realized how much research I still needed to do. So right now, no one will be seeing most of it except me while I work on major overhauls.

* * *

I’ve also learned a lot about MLing (being a NaNoWriMo municipal liaison) in a new region. Or rather, learned a lot about what doesn’t work in a rural, spread out region with an older and less diverse demographic. It was my sixth year doing this, and one would guess that I would already have this down pat. But no. This place makes MLing a college town on its most apathetic days exciting.

Reserving space was not a problem. In some ways, that part was ridiculously easy. The problem was mostly in trying to get anyone to attend at all. No one (except me) showed up for 30% of the write-ins. Only one other person showed up for another 30% of the write-ins. Two or more people showed up at 40%. However, no more than four people ever showed up to any event.

None of my usual bribes managed to increase participation. I tried: prizes, goodies, candy, food, NaNoWriMo swag. I have no idea what else to try. Unusual write-in locations? Famous authors? UFOs?

I sort of wonder if scheduling was a problem. This year, I scheduled at least one write-in in the morning, the afternoon, and the evening. Write-ins happened on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The afternoon write-ins during the weekend were particularly poorly attended. So perhaps next year, I’ll try adding more weekday and evening write-ins even though I’m not particularly fond of those times.

Online participation was also pretty much zilch. Very few people from my town posted in the forums (and they only posted to introduce themselves). Every time I entered the regional chatroom, it was either just one of the other MLs or the bot. And while there were followers to the regional Twitter feed, no one seemed to respond to any of the writing sprints I initiated on it.

While all of this is fairly depressing–I put far too much effort and sacrificed a lot of sleep for this–I think this also presents a challenge. There’s probably a reason why the region isn’t particularly active. It’s just that the other Montana MLs and I haven’t figured it out yet.

So next year, I’m going to try out some different things. Radically different things, if I can come up with them in the first place.