sleepy lamb
Oh, yeah, I also took a nap.

The first day of National Novel Writing Month has been slow, with respect to actually writing even a single word of my planned novel. I’m always one for a long, slow wind-up before the pitch, but since I’ve been working on the story for my novel for more than thirty years (in my head, not on paper) one more day of not-writing makes for a very slow wind-up indeed.

I did, however, do plenty of thinking about how to begin, and even downloaded some free software that is supposed to help me plan the novel, flesh out the characters, build a good story arc. There is, surprisingly, LOTS of story-writing software out there (no, it won’t actually write the novel for you) and I suppose it’s possible to waste all sorts of time installing the program, reading through tutorials, setting up the interface, and various other sorts of not-writing time-wasting. I’ve been so busy with other things today, that I didn’t even get a chance to engage in that sort of procrastinatory busy work. I downloaded the software. Period. And wrote a short post for my Catholic Social Teaching site.

Hal Spacejock by Simon Haynes

The program I downloaded is one I had before (it got wiped out when I had to reformat the hard drive after a Trojan virus infection). It’s called simply yWriter and was created by Simon Haynes, who is himself a NaNoWriMo writer as well as a software programmer. He developed yWriter to help with his own writing, and now gives it away free, along with plenty of other software. I’ll let the author describe what his brainchild is:

yWriter is a word processor which breaks your novel into chapters and scenes, helping you keep track of your work while leaving your mind free to create. It will not write your novel for you, suggest plot ideas or perform creative tasks of any kind. yWriter was designed by an author, not a salesman!

[Yay for that. Too much software of this sort is just a gimmick to get you to buy into a whole “novel-writing system.”] Haynes goes on to say:

If you’re just embarking on your first novel a program like yWriter may seem like overkill. I mean, all you have to do is type everything into a word processor! Sure, but wait until you hit 20,000 words, with missing scenes and chapters, notes all over your desk, characters and locations and plot points you’ve just added and which need to be referenced earlier … it becomes a real struggle. Now imagine that same novel at 40,000 or 80,000 words! No wonder most first-time writers give up.

Hal Junior The Secret Signal by Simon Haynes

Simon Haynes knows whereof he speaks, as he is not just a programmer but an experienced novelist, with a whole string of Hal Spacejock novels (humorous sci-fi) and Hal Junior tales (for kids), as well as a number of short stories he has published for Kindle. Check ’em out here on his Amazon author page. By the way, you can download the first Hal Spacejock novel free. If you like funny novels and like sci-fi, you should get a kick out of Hal Spacejock.

If you’d like to try writing a novel, try downloading yWriter and then read some of the articles about writing on Simon Haynes’s web site, which cover everything from plotting to publishing to promoting your novel. And if you do, don’t forget to thank Simon for all this great free stuff!