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The Reference Desk is the primary NaNoWriMo forum designed for Wrimos to ask and answer questions about realism, facts, and figures in their stories. It is one of the most popular forums on the site, and during the NaNo season, threads can get bumped to the second page in less than an hour.
The posts in the reference desk forum are as varied as the plots of the respective writers. Some writers look for character perspectives that they lack. Others look for advice on how to do something to their characters realistically. Still others are looking for a device that does something they need for their novels.
Posts that belong in the Plot Doctoring or Writing 101 forums are occasionally posted to this forum. These posts are moved to the appropriate forum. Tip: If your post is about characterization, choosing a name for something in your novel, or working out a plot problem, post it to Plot Doctoring. If your post a question about grammar, style, or anything mechanics-related, post it to Writing 101.
The questions in the forum description also change each year, a source of amusement for returning Wrimos. Some of them are based on questions from the previous year's thread. In September 2009 Dragonchilde sought out questions from the community for the forum description. The three resulting questions in the 2010 forum description were contributed by Lais, sushimustwrite, and Leo Fair, respectively. One of the first posts in the reference desk forum typically answers these questions.
In 2010, the name of the forum was changed from Character and Plot Realism to Reference Desk in an attempt to reduce the number of misplaced plot/characterization threads accidentally posted there, thus requiring a move.
2002-2003: What kind of shoes do mailmen wear? What eye affliction could completely erase my character's short-term memory, then kill her in a dramatic fashion 15,000 words later? Could a pregnant black bear overtake and eat a family in a slow-moving golf cart? You have a question. Someone out there has an answer.
2005: Could a dog accidentally hotwire a go-kart? How much does a Singapore Sling cost in Malaysia? How might a murderous beautician immobilize her clients using only hair-care products? And how many bats can you fit in a breadbox? You have a question. Someone out there has an answer.
2006: What color paper do TPS report covers go on? Do pregnant whales get morning sickness? What sort of mayhem could a clown create using only balloons? Could a hero hide his broadsword in a wombat? You have a question. Someone out there has an answer.
2007: What sort of beer does a hedge fund manager drink? How and when did we start burying people six feet under? How many wallabies could you fit into a Tokyo subway car? You have a question. Someone out there has an answer.
2009: Researching facts, figures, real world experiences and details. How much Jello does it take to completely fill the White House? How many times are beans refried to make refried beans? What does green sound like? You have a question. Someone out there has an answer.
2010: Researching facts, figures, real world experiences and details. If the entire population of Europe jumped into the ocean at the same time on the same beach how big a wave would they create? How much yarn does it take to knit a sweater for a giraffe? How many pangolins would it take to construct a pangolin scale breastplate? You have a question. Someone out there has an answer.