The best characteristic of writers is their imaginations never die, and they are always willing to share ideas -- no matter how seemingly ridiculous -- with other writers.
On Tuesday, I attended a gathering of National Novel Writing Month participants in the Flint area. The group, the Flint Red Hot Writers, meets at The Coffee Beanery in VG's Food Center, 5080 Corunna Road, Flint Township.
Meetings are 2-4 p.m. today, 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, 6-9 p.m. Thursday, 2-4 p.m. Nov. 11, 6-9 p.m. Nov. 15, 2-4 p.m. Nov. 18, 6-9 p.m. Nov. 20, 2-4 p.m. Nov. 25 and 4-9 p.m. Nov. 30. The group will celebrate the end of writing month with a party on Dec. 2.
Parents, single adults, high school students, college students and children as young as 6 showed up at Tuesday's session. The children are part of NaNoWriMo's Young Authors Program. Everyone has a username on the Web site, www.nanowrimo.org.
Everyone in the group is encouraging, fun and kind. I came out as a novelist with no plot and was embraced. My fellow writers began brainstorming with me and giving me tips on how to come up with ideas for my novel.
Loren Burr, a freshman at Goodrich High School, teased me for not having a character, a plot or even a genre selected. It was all in good fun because I'm certain Loren changed his novel plot about three times that evening -- from a story about a band member to a Chuck Norris adventure to an angst-ridden action drama about a character named Gary Stu.
Cylithria Dubois, a former Flint resident now living in Bay City, eased my insecurities when she told me she was also struggling with a plot for her anti-romance romance novel.
Dubois, our group coordinator, introduced an idea that would help break writers block. The idea, which she borrowed from the Bay City NaNoWriMo group, is to write a plot device on an index card that goes into a box.
Writers who find themselves struggling during the month can pull a card from the box and must use the idea in their novel.
Mischievous grins appeared on everyone's faces. The writers began scribbling with ink pens of fury, stopping only to show the person next to them what they'd written on the index cards. Laughter soon filled The Coffee Beanery.
The first card Loren showed to me read, "Alien Invasion. 'Nuff said."
"That should help your novel get going," he said, sticking the index card into the plot box.
My favorite ideas the entire evening were also written by Loren: "Your character explodes. Go back two spaces" and "Your character turns out to be Jesus. Have you heard the good news? Extra points if his best friend is an atheist."
Let's hope I don't actually have to write using any of Loren's helpful plot devices.
The writing group motivated me further with free stuff. The NaNoWriMo swag included a sticker, refrigerator magnet, door hanger, ink pen, temporary tattoo and other fun stuff.
Now, I'm ready to write. I've got my swag, signed up with the Web site, attended a group meeting -- and my iPod is stocked with music only a 20-something could love. Wish me luck. It's 50K or bust.
[Matt Bach | Flint Journal / The Flint Journal]