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Every word counts in becoming a novelist

By Ashley Miner, Times Staff Reporter
On December 4, 2012

In 1999, Chris Baty and his friends decided to become novelists mainly to impress girls. A year later, they wanted to get others involved so they created an annual event as part of National Novel Writing Month called 50,000 Words. Thirteen years later, 50,000 Words is an annual event that receives participants nationwide. Baty came up with 50,000 Words when he grabbed the book, "Brave New World", estimated how many words were on a page, and multiplied that number by the number of pages in the book. Using that template, 50,000 Words helps people write a novel, one page a day, for one month.
Jennifer Medved, librarian at Oak Creek Campus, has been participating in the event for eight of the 13 years that National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, has existed. Medved has been one of the municipal liaisons for this area for the past four years.
Medved's profession makes it convenient to set up a write-in, which they have every Tuesday from 5 to 9 p.m. on campus.
Eric Hanley, former MATC student, also hosts events across the street from the UW-Milwaukee union. This is Eric's third year participating and he has completed two novels and is currently working on his third.
Deb Henderson, another former MATC student, has also published her novel under the pen name D. Perdue Henderson. She has a fantasy trilogy coming out for young adults.
Since this is a non-profit organization, all municipal liaisons collaborate with each other in terms of where events are held. There are approximately 30 events and online meetings to keep the words flowing. The gatherings are at UW-Milwaukee, Bucketworks, Gravity Connect, Fuel Café, Alterra Coffee Roasters and a few public libraries in or around the downtown area.
In October, gatherings for drafting, character development, and plot outlining help prep for Nov. 1, the first day of the writing month. After the last day of the writing month, December becomes a time to relax, take a break from writing, and have a "Happily Ever After Party" where participants gather and share what they have done during their writing period.
Kids participate in the young writers' portion of the NaNoWriMo event, which was added a few years ago as a way to make it a family event. Twelve-hundred words is the maximum amount within the Young Writers Program (YWP). Nine-year-old, Jonathan Fanning finished his novel on Nov. 17.
It's inspiring to know that kids can do this and should motivate adults to complete 50,000 words.
Coming from the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words, another branch of NaNoWriMo inspires people to draw 50 pictures in a month. Some participate in both categories and some writers even get covers for their novels from the illustrators/artists.
If you're a screenwriter, a poet, or even if fiction writing isn't the thing for you, there's something for everyone with NaNoWriMo. If you want to know more, visit

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