This will be the third year I participate in NaNo. The first two years have been very interesting to me. The first time I attempted this, I wrote a simple yet complex story about a group of teenaged kids and a mad professor who go island-hopping across the Pacific to find a pirate's lost legacy. I titled it "A Forgotten Legacy", it was 27000-odd words and is 107 pages long.
Last year I tried something more different. In standard Canterbury Tales fashion, I took seventeen (or eighteen? I'm still not sure) characters, made them tell stories to a narrator known as "The Interviewer" (well, actually, his name was Christian Harland, but The Interviewer sounds more ominous), and combined the stories. It was, stylistically, a disaster. Think LOST, combined with The Canterbury Tales, combined with something written by Borges, combined with a World History course. Yeah. I had characters referencing others that didn't exist, I had many unrealistic situations that at the time seemed perfectly plausible, and more.
That novel is unfinished. I technically "won" NaNoWriMo, I passed the 40,000 word goal I set, but the novel is unfinished. I wrote the novel out of order - big shocker - and that explains the plot discrepancies. Like the Canterbury Tales, it's unfinished and several characters have no story to tell. I even have one chapter where a character gets ready to tell his story, then nothing....until the next page where I continue with, "He finished his story. Christian stared at him."
Yeah, I'm not even gonna explain that. I got very insane towards the end. But the reason I chose the novel at all was to write short stories, stick a frame story in the interstices, and call it a novel. That's why I failed. (Though the short stories, the ones I finished at least, are pretty good, to be honest, to stand alone.)
But this year is different! My first year was simple, my second was too complex. I need a happy medium in order to make this year successful. I have a plot idea, already, not sure if I'll use it, but it's out there. It will tend to be philosophical. I've always wanted to write philosophy, mainly existentialism, because I'm a fan of existentialism. But we shall see, won't we?
(If you're interested in doing this, go to their site if you're an adult, and their other site if you're under 18. What's the difference? If you're on the adult site, you must write 50,000 words, minimum. As a kid you can set your word goal, that's pretty much the only change. You can set your goal to 100 words if you wish. :P)
The really neat thing about NaNo is the past couple of years, if you finish, you get a publishing offer from CreateSpace, where you can get 5 free paperback copies of your novel. I've gotten the offer both times but of course haven't done it. The editing's a nightmare. But this year, I will do it. Definitely. Third time's the charm, they say, but this time I will really try to get those copies. Ad astra por aspera.
One final thing: if you're interested: see how my younger self took NaNo last year. That was with the complex novel. Reading the advice I gave, no wonder I didn't finish it. Plus, it was my second ever blog post. :)