- write a story in your conlang this July!
- do it at the same time as other conlangers and use the power of peer pressure to help you out :)
- join the mailing list
LoCoWriMo or Local Conlang Writing Month is inspired by NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. It started with a post by Arthaey Angosii to the CONLANG mailing list (11 June 2009), proposing that several of us simultaneously write a sizable piece of original fiction in our conlang.
NaNoWriMo is an annual events which challenges people to set a goal of writing a novel-length story- 50,000 words or more- between November 1 and November 30. The story can be written in any language (but usually it is assumed that a participant will write in their native language). Few if any conlangers have sufficient fluency in their conlangs (or conlangs sufficiently developed) to make 50,000 words a realistic goal. Arthaey Angosii suggested 5,000 words as a goal for writing in a conlang; after further discussion it was decided that each person participating would set a challenging but attainable goal for themselves, based on how complete their conlang is and their experience with the amount of time it takes them to write in their conlang.
How to LoCoWriMo
As with NaNoWriMo, a person wanting to participate should start a new story from scratch on the first day of the selected month (usually July).
Preparing for LocoWriMo
- Write a plot outline or character background notes,
- Figure out what words are liable to be needed,
- Create vocabulary for the semantic domains involved in the story you'll be writing
- Figure out pragmatics and stylistics issues you haven't addressed before (e.g., how do dialogue tags and reported speech work in your conlang?)
Many Wrimos have only the vaguest of ideas of what they will write about at the start of the month, and those who do plan ahead are encouraged to not do much more than a simple outline and listing of characters. The goal is to have fun being creative, not to write the next masterpiece.
Setting writing goals
To figure out what would be a challenging but attainable goal re: writing fiction in a conlang, it makes sense to do a timing exercise ahead of time; write a different story, or just some stand-alone scenes (for this purpose you don't necessarily have to have a plot sufficient for a complete story), time yourself, and measure your output for a writing session. Given your speed per hour for this practice run, estimate how much you could write in July if you give the project most or all of your free time for the month.
Your goal can be in words, characters, sentences, pages, or however else makes sense to quantify your output. Just make sure that it's a "stretch" goal. Lack of sleep, and excessive coffee drinking is common among "WriMos".
Alternatively, you could just start writing on July 1, time yourself and measure your progress for the first writing session, and then set your goal for the month from there.
Why the name LoCoWriMo?
National Novel Writing Month started out as a U.S. project and has spread internationally since then, but kept the name because the abbreviation sounds cooler. LoCoWriMo, however, has been international from the start. Someone suggested Global Conlang Writing Month, but LoCoWriMo sounds cooler than GloCoWriMo. And, appropriately enough, loco means "crazy" in Spanish. (See the CONLANG thread linked below for details.) After some discussion, it was decided that "Local" in this context refers to the Local Group of galaxies, or to any other locality a given participant prefers.
In general LoCoWriMo follows the same rules as NaNoWriMo:
- write a new story (not a continuation of an existing story)
- write fiction ("non-fiction" written from a conculture's persective is okay)
- set a difficult but attainable goal
Like NaNoWriMo, the emphasis here is on quantity, not quality. While you should obviously try and make your story grammatically correct, editing to improve plot, continuity, or anything else is discouraged. Just keep writing.
With NaNoWriMo the goal is to complete a novel within one month. While we may not be able to accomplish the same thing with our conlangs, we can do our best, and along the way many of our languages will improve greatly, which ties in to the lack of editing. By the end of the effort many of us will find our words and grammar have changed in non-trivial ways. If we were constantly going back to update the start of the story to match the the language at the end, we'd never get much written.
If you're overall satisfied with the story as a whole, but dissatisfied with particular defects, you may want to revise it to a greater or lesser extent (or entirely rewrite it), either for aspects where the grammar or lexicon has changed in the course of writing or to fix plot holes or tighten up the flow of the story or whatever, sometime after you've finished the first draft during July. You don't have to; participating in LoCoWriMo doesn't commit you to that.
- Userscript to add word count goals to Google Docs: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/60914