If you're looking for a kickstart to your novel writing, then set aside November to have a crack at bashing out 50,000 words of a rough first draft in the hellfire challenge that is NaNoWriMo. Guest blogger Matthew Wright has some ideas to get you started in the right direction.
If any of you are looking for a bit of how-to guidance for your NaNoWriMo story – or, indeed, any fiction – one place to start researching is with Arthur Porges’ classic 1953 sci-fi ‘The Ruum‘.It’s a simple enough tale. Alien ‘bio-collector’ robot is accidentally left on Jurassic-age Earth. Skip forward 130 million years and it’s still hard at work, undiscovered in the wild back-country – until a rugged outdoorsman runs into it.
What follows is a classic man-vs-wild survival tale – with a stunning twist. I won’t say anything more – but what I will say is that ‘The Ruum’ remains an absolute archetype of all that a short story of this general type should be. It has:
- A simple and sharply contained plot – one man, one task, one thread.
- Character-based drama of the highest order – the inner struggle by the woodsman to find strength in himself to stay alive.
- Sustained conflict – pursuit of the man by the Ruum – moving in rising waves.
- A surprise twist at the very end.
After that, check out Hemingway’s The Old Man And The Sea, which carries the same themes and handles them in a very similar way. In this case, the ‘relentless enemy’ isn’t an alien robot, it’s the sea itself, however the storytelling principle is identical. That particular novella won Hemingway a Nobel Prize for literature.
There are deep lessons to be learned here.
Now get writing.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015