Gearing up for NaNo 2009

I am already getting SO excited about NaNoWriMo. This year in addition to writing my own 50,000+ word novel, I am going to attempt to run a Young Writers Program group at the library where I work. I already made fliers, and now I am just hoping to find some kids who want to write. I have one girl that I was talking to last week that got really excited about writing her own book, and when I see her again I’m going to give her the flier and ask if she knows anyone else that might want to come.

I have planned to start October 27 for an introduction and Kick-Off Party, skipping November 3 because the library is closed for election day, write-ins on November 10, 17, and 24, and one last meeting December 1 for a TGIO party… in my case, that stands for Thank GOODNESS It’s Over.

I am semi-secretly hoping that I end up with a nice group of kids interested in writing more, in which case maybe I’ll be able to use NaNoWriMo ’09 as a springboard for a children’s writing club!

I went to Just a Buck yesterday, which is one of my al-time favorite stores, to get supplies. They had tons of great stuff! I got 15 Mead-like (but not that brand) notebooks with plain brown covers that the kids can decorate however they want, two packs of pens, some erasers… and even a few two-sided dry-erase boards (each about the size of a sheet of looseleaf) that could come in handy. I’m thinking plotting, drawing characters, drawing an inner editor and then erasing the mouth….

I have all the enthusiasm for this program I need, but it will totally suck if nobody comes to it.

In other news, there is my own novel. So far I haven’t planned anything, but there is an idea I had a while ago that I recently stumbled on yesterday when looking in my Writing Ideas notebook. I think it could be very interesting to play with but I’m not sure if it will work. It’s going to be a challenge, and I like that. But I don’t have any characters or plot, just a novel way (no pun intended) of structuring the story.

I like the idea of “inventing” structure. Most novels are linear in timeline. Sometimes there are flashbacks, but generally the story is told from start to finish. Even if the timeline skips around a little, the story in general goes forward in time. Then there is John Green’s YA novel Looking for Alaska which, instead of chapters, tells the story by counting down from “# Days Before” until it gets to the pivot point, then counts up in “# Days After.” It’s different, but still goes forward.

What if the first chapter is the last part of the story? What if the next chapter tells what happened before that? What if chapter three comes before chapter two in the timeline? Is it possible to tell a compelling story, one that still has surprises in store for the reader, if the consequences of each chapter have already occurred? Is it possible to start at the end and rewind to the beginning and not lose the reader? I want to try to write a novel that entices the reader to read further to find out what already happened. In short, I want my story to move backward.

But what is the story? Who are the characters? Those elements are still completely up in the air.