Attack of the NaNo Machines

November is a pretty special time in our household. November means NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This month, I will see a lot of friends, and spend a lot of time working on the first draft of a new novel.

This year will be a little interesting. I am a dedicated pantser. I don’t go into most projects with any sort of plan. I have a concept and generally an opening line, but that is about it. This year, I’ve decided to expand a previous short story.

I wrote “Mama’s Little Boy” based on a news report I read about a guy who kept his dead mother in the attic. He didn’t tell anyone she died because he wanted to keep collecting her social security check. It was one of those cases where real life was just as twisted anything I could come up with on my own.

I was pretty happy with the short story, overall, but several people mentioned in a writing workshop that they wanted to know more about the story. I decided to expand the original short story into a novella. The interesting part about this is that by using my original short story as source material, I am basically using an outline, which is a first for me outside of screenwriting, and makes me more than a little nervous.

I’ve expanded the story significantly, and changed toe structure of the story. So far, I am a little over 6,000 words in, and I am relatively happy with it. By the end of the month, hopefully I will have a serviceable first draft that will amount to something after the re-writes. Given that I am still working on my Master’s degree this November, my plan is to end with a novella of around 25,000 words.

After graduation, I am going to get some of these novels re-written and see what happens. First, however, I need to finish this draft of Mama’s Little Boy, and make it through this November with both an original novella and an A in my classes.

NaNoWriMo Progress: 6338 words and counting.

Jack Campbell, Jr. is a dark fiction writer in Lawrence, KS. His writing has appeared in various venues including Twenty 3 Magazine, Danse Macabre, and Insomnia Press. He writes about reading, writing, and life on his blog at

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