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"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." --William Somerset Maugham
A novel is the work of fiction that NaNoWriMo participants aim to write in November. The NaNoWriMo FAQ defines a novel to be "a lengthy work of fiction", leaving open to interpretation whether works such as a collection of short stories would fall under the rules. The current interpretation is that a collection of short stories must be connected in some manner, or the writer is considered a NaNo Rebel. In Instances where it is impossible to make a determination of if it is a 'lengthy work of fiction' or not, the phrase "If you think it's a novel, so do we." is used. This is also used to answer questions about how much fiction must be included.
The novel that Wrimos write in November is to be at least 50,000 words in length. According to No Plot? No Problem!, Chris Baty grabbed the shortest book on his shelf (Aldous Huxley's Brave New World), did a rough page count, and went with that number. Fifty thousand words has proven to be a tough but doable goal for many Wrimos, with fewer than 20% of Wrimos finishing every year after the first year . A fifty-thousand word novel is a short novel in many genres; however, some Wrimos, known as overachievers, choose a higher word count goal for November. Others finish the novel after November.
Novels generally include:
- Plots (This one is optional for the purposes of NaNoWriMo)
- At least one setting, though often more.