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National Novel Writing Month
National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo or simply NaNo, is a novel-writing challenge that takes place every November. Participants begin writing on November first with a goal of completing a 50,000-word novel from scratch by the end of the month.
Upon signing up, users gain posting privileges on the website's forum and a user profile in which they can post a basic profile about themselves - as well as a summary, excerpt, and cover for their novel.
The challenge begins at midnight on November 1st (local time), and ends on November 30th at 11:59:59 (local time). From November 25-30, members can verify their wordcount by copy/pasting their novel into the NaNoWriMo word counter under user pages. If the automated validator counts over 50,000 words, the word count bar turns purple and the Wrimo is listed as a winner. Upon validation, users will receive a winner icon, a certificate and access to other "Winner Goodies".
- Main article: NaNoWriMo forums
The NaNoWriMo forums are extremely busy during October and November, and have regular activity even during the off-season. They are a place for research, memes, plot ideas, Adoptables, and just hanging out (and procrastinating, another traditional NaNo activity). Wrimos can ask questions and get answers about their novels, about NaNo itself, or about nearly anything. The forums themselves present a literary adventure, with some of the forums, such as the roleplaying and procrastination forums creating entire mini-cultures within the forums.
The first year
NaNoWriMo was founded by Chris Baty in July 1999. Twenty other people participated that year, all from the San Francisco Bay Area. The project began not because Baty and his friends had ideas for the great American novel but because they "wanted to write novels for the same dumb reasons twentysomethings start bands". After grabbing the shortest novel on his shelf (which happened to be Aldous Huxley's Brave New World) and doing a rough word count, the number that Wrimos today strive for was set in stone. Six of the twenty-one participants, including Baty, completed the challenge. After 1999, NaNoWriMo was moved from July to November to take advantage of the miserable weather.
The pre-forum era
2000 was a year of firsts for NaNoWriMo. It was the first year that NaNoWriMo had a website, calling nanowrimo.com home. It was the first year of the Yahoo! group. 2000 was also the first year of rules, as Wrimos started to ask Chris Baty what they could write. That year Baty verified the winning novels himself by running a word counter on each novel.
In 2001, the event became much more popular when 5000 participants showed up. Like the year before, Baty (with the help of some friends) entered each participant into the system and invited them to the Yahoo! group manually but eventually had to put a deadline on signing up because of the volume of participants. The NaNoWriMo.com site was encouraged to find a new webhost due to consuming the resources of the other sites on the server. When he announced that official validation would be canceled that year due to the number of winners, participants validated each other's novels.
The early age of the forums
In 2002 Chris Baty came across Dan Sanderson, who created most of the features Wrimos associate with NaNoWriMo today. Sanderson introduced the automatic word counter, which relieved Chris and the participants of having to do any validation. Sanderson also introduced the blue bar, which turned green upon reaching 50,000 words and purple upon validation, and the phpBB forums, which meant that Wrimos could finally communicate in a less confusing medium than Yahoo! groups.
The NaNoWriMo site also moved to NaNoWriMo.org that year, and the forums, like the Yahoo! groups, became an instant hub of activity with its own culture. Discussions of urinal cakes and dares abounded. Plot quandaries were asked and answered. Wrimos who ordered NaNo shirts wondered why they received something completely different from what they originally ordered, likely not realizing that Chris was packing the orders right out of his own living room.
2002 was also the first year of Municipal Liaisons, which enabled local Wrimos to find each other more easily. Regional Lounges were created in the NaNo forums, and Wrimos got together for Write-ins and other get-togethers. Lauren Ayer joined the NaNo staff in 2003 to be a contact person for the MLs, and Julia Cardis joined the NaNo team to help with duties such as answering emails and overseeing donations and t-shirt sales. Russ Uman also signed on to become the man behind the impressive coding of a larger Nanowrimo.org site.
2004 saw yet more additions to staff, with Jeff Fassnacht becoming the site's graphic designer (including the iconic running man, Ellen Martin becoming the head of what would become the Young Writers Program in the next year, Erin Allday as co-ML mistress, and Hyland Baron as Managing Director, taking over for Julia Cardis. Cybele May would also join in the next year as the forum moderator.
2005 saw massive growth with the Young Writers Program, along with the creation of WrimoRadio by Sam Hallgren and Flash-based author profiles that resembled library books. That year Chris Baty decided to give packing the orders himself another shot, packing all the orders from the warehouse of the Flash programmer who wrote the author profiles (and who conveniently happened to be living in France through October and November).
During this period, Nanowrimo also partnered with Room to Read, and donated over $43,000 to build children's libraries in southeast Asia. A new store was also set up, with the do-it-yourself shipping getting a new life on a table made from a bowling alley.
The era of OLL
Nano in the Media
Published Nano Novels
The most well-known Nano novel to become published is Sara Gruen's "Water for Elephants", which became a New York Times Bestseller, as well as being adapted as a feature-length film.
- National Novel Writing Month's official website
- NaNoWriMo's Twitter page
- NaNoWriMo's Facebook page
- NaNoWriMo's Flickr group
- The Official History of NaNoWriMo
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