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NaNoWriMo: Write a Letter!

Need Inspiration? Stop by and you could win a book! Today, I will be a guest on Debra Eckerling’s blog show Write On! Online on Blog Talk Radio (1:00 PM Pacific; 4:00 PM EST). If you need some inspiration or have a burning question, stop by! I’ll be giving away a copy of Write-A-Thon to one lucky listener!

Wednesday Writing Prompt A few weeks ago, I heard Shaun Usher, the curator of Letters of Note on National Public Radio. The site is a blog archive of interesting letters that features an image of a unique piece of correspondence each day, its transcript, and a brief introduction. The letters come from both unknown and famous people, including Madonna, Quentin Tarantino, and Johnny Cash. As an inveterate snoop, I find the site has become a delicious diversion. The site can also help us weary NaNoWriMo novelists to figure out what to write next. Here are three ways that Letters of Note can help you with your NaNo novel:

1. Insert a Letter. Yup, take one of the letters and put it smack dab in the middle of your novel. I don’t know if you will be able to use the letter when you publish the book—copyright restrictions and all—but that’s a worry for another day. Today—just have fun with it! Perhaps your characters happen across the letter online, in a book, or on the radio—and it sparks conversation or a spat. Maybe the writer of one of the letters makes a cameo appearance in your book and quotes the letter. Or perhaps your character uses the letter as an example of the type of letter she would like to receive. I’m sure you can think of something!

2. Steal the form. Narration, description, action, dialogue, repeat . . . sometimes you just need a break from the sameness of it all. If that’s how you are feeling, insert an epistolary chapter in the novel or even just a single letter. There have been a few epistolary novels either in whole (84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff) or in part (The Historian by Elizabeth Kostava)

3. Get inspired. My favorite letter was a prank by Disney animator Ed Gombert. He was upset that executives had changed the title of the movie, Basil of Baker Street to the bland, The Great Mouse Detective. Gombert created a fake memo that was supposedly from the then department head, Peter Schneider. In the memo, he suggested renaming all of the Disney films including, “Seven Little Men Help a Girl” and “The Evil Bonehead.” Reading this reminded me of how much fun writing can be, and I returned to my manuscript with more energy and ideas. Peek at the site and see if a letter inspires you to write more.

Your turn: What sites do you go to for inspiration? Leave a comment! I’ll choose three of today’s commenters to win a hand-written postcard of encouragement for NaNoWriMo!



5 Responses

  1. I get a lot of inspiration from Twitter! It is up to date and ever evolving with new ideas and information. It is so easy to change its direction and topic of influence as opposed to any other site. Then there is always the huff puff for inspiration through irritation and a ever loving need for anti-misinformation.

    1. writenowcoach

      I like Twitter, too. I always find links to great articles there. Thanks for the reminder to hang out there! Huff puff is…. the Huffington Post? Love that site.

  2. Terrific website you have with great information and a professional look. I did not use this software to write my book but everything here is indeed possible. Ever Essence was written in 30 days between jobs. With discipline and a focus on a minimum word count dily – you can be as amazed as I was at the conclusion of creating something magical through a seemingly magical process. Not that this ends everything – then you can start the editing. If you love words and writing – enjoy the process, cheers David

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