NaNo Jargon

*This post was originally a thread in last year’s Spokane Regional forums, created by Samantha Potter, ML.

Like many specialized endeavors, NaNoWriMo has evolved its own specific jargon over the years. A question by one of the attendees of our plot planning session reminded me that like any foreign languages, many of the terms bandied about by NaNoWriMo participants must be learned.

Often those of us who have been around for a while have incorporated many of these NaNo-specific phrases into our personal vocabularies, and we’ve long since forgotten that the general public has no clue what we’re referring to.

… And Then What Happened? Vol. I = an anthology published August, 2012, containing the work of 23 of the more than 630 Spokane-area authors who have participated in NaNoWriMo from 2002 through 2011. Copies of the Anthology may also be purchased directly from the MLs.

Camp NaNoWriMo = an opportunity to write a novel in two separate sessions during the summer months. Camp is also run by the Office of Letters and Light, NaNoWriMo’s parent organization.

Chat Room = an unofficial chat platform where MLs can set up a chat for their region.

Chatzy The Spokane Region’s Chat Room. This is a password-protected, moderated chat room that requires users to register their email address. The Chatzy Chat Room is open year-round for Spokane-area NaNoWriMo participants.

Donation Day = a single day in November when participants are challenged to meet a fundraising goal. OLL staff members offer to embarrass themselves on YouTube to encourage fundraising efforts.

Donation Station = the place where anyone can donate money to the Office of Letters and Light and/or purchase merchandise related to NaNoWriMo, YWP, Script Frenzy, Camp NaNoWriMo, and the Office of Letters and Light.

Kick-Off Party = a social gathering, usually held just prior to the beginning of November to meet local participants and talk about your novel.

MC = Main Character. Variants: MFC = Main Female Character & MMC = Main Male Character

Meet Up = when Wrimos “meet up” anywhere. These usually happen in coffee shops, libraries, parks, homes, or cafes. In contrast with a Write-in, a meet-up may not involve actual writing.

Midway party = a non-writing event held about half-way through November. A midway party can be a great stress-reliever and community-builder

ML = Municipal Liaison. One of the officially appointed unpaid volunteers who organize events in a specified region.

ML Appreciation Day = a day during November when participants celebrate all the hard work that MLs put into making NaNoWriMo happen.

Mr. Ian Woon = an ongoing challenge, created by sushimustwrite, whereupon each Nano participant is challenged to include a character by that name in their novel.   Mr. Ian Woon is an anagram of NaNoWriMo. That is, if you rearrange the letters of Mr. Ian Woon you’ll get NaNoWriMo.

NaNo Rebel = any NaNoWriMo participant who writes something besides a new novel in November. NaNo Rebels are largely self-defined.

NaNoMail = the private messaging system through which users can communicate with each other on Participants must be logged in to read and send NaNoMail, and must have their mail set to receive private messages in order to receive messages.

NaNoVideo = videos produced each fall by the NaNoWriMo staff and posted on the site, containing advice, encouragement, answers to questions, and amusing miscellany.

Night of Writing Dangerously = a fundraiser and writing marathon that benefits OLL programs. Takes place each November in San Francisco; tickets are limited to the first 250 fundraising Wrimos who collect 250 dollars or more through their fundraising pages for the event.

No Plot? No Problem! = NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty’s book, published in 2006, that explains NaNoWriMo and offers advice for successful participation.

Novel Validation = the process of confirming that a participant has written at least 50,000 words in November, through the website’s word-count validation system. Takes place from November 25-30 and can be found under “My NaNoWriMo” –> “Edit Novel Info” when a participant is logged in. Participants must validate their novels to receive winner goodies.

OLL = Office of Letters & Light, the parent organization that runs NaNoWriMo, YWP and CampNaNo.

Plot Bunny = a story idea that refuses to go away until it is written. The term’s origin is unknown but is known to predate NaNoWriMo. Because plot bunnies tend to multiply quickly, the term is thought to be related to the oft-quoted John Steinbeck quote about ideas and rabbits. “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
The NaNoWriMo forums offer several resources for the care and handling of plot bunnies. Unwanted bunnies can be put up for adoption in the Adoption Society forum. Plot bunnies that the writer wants to write later can be left in the Plot Bunny Day Care Center in the NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul forum, where they can breed with the plot bunnies of other Wrimos and be cared for in the finest fashion.

Plot Ninjas = something that is inserted into the plot when the writer finds him- or herself at a loss for what to do next, or when their characters are bogging down in dull conversation rather than doing anything interesting. The traditional form of the plot ninja is literal ninjas crashing through windows or leaping out of wardrobes and attacking the main characters, turning the dithering over plot into an exciting action scene. When actual ninjas are not appropriate, milieu-appropriate enemies, such as orcs, cyborgs, or gangster can be substituted.
In a more general sense, a plot ninja is any plot element, perhaps randomly generated or taken from other’s suggestions (such as dares), which a writer will toss into the story when things are slowing down.

PM (Private Message) = see NaNoMail.

Regional Lounge = a special forum where members of a region can see a calendar of upcoming events, discuss regional matters, and learn about their region and MLs. This post resides in a thread on the Spokane Regional Lounge.

SpokaNaNo = the Spokane Region of NaNoWriMo, officially incorporated as a non-profit corporation with the Washington Secretary of State, and doing business as the Spokane River Writers.

Spokane River Writers = see SpokaNaNo . The combined force of the Greater Spokane-area NaNoWriMo participants since 2002.

Store the place where official merchandise related to NaNoWriMo, YWP, Script Frenzy, Camp NaNoWriMo, and the Office of Letters and Light can be purchased.

TGIO Party = the end-of-month celebration for all regional participants, usually held within the first week of December.

Traveling Shovel of Death (TSoD) =  an ongoing challenge to include the shovel by name in your novel, causing havoc and death in some manner and then post appropriate excerpts in your regional forums. = the Twitter feed maintained by NaNoWriMo staff that regularly offers timed word sprints. = The official NaNoWrimo Twitter feed with news snippets, responses to Tweeted questions, and year-round encouragement.

Virtual Write-In = most write-ins on the Spokane calendar can be accessed virtually (whenever wi-fi access is available from the event) and at least once a week an entirely virtual event is scheduled, via Chatzy for a text-based chat and using Google+ Hangouts for those Wrimos who have circled the Spokane River Writers Google+ Page.

Winner Certificate = a downloadable certificate available to NaNoWriMo participants who validate their novels. Certificate design changes each year; winners receive a link to a congratulatory page after novel validation.

Word Wars = a common activity in which two or more people or groups compete to see who can write the most words in a given time (most “wars” in the Spokane region range from 15-30 minutes). Word wars are a major tool of Write-ins to ensure productive writing sessions. Word Wars also refer to challenges between regions for either most words written in November, or highest average per-author word count.

Word Sprint (see also: Word Wars) = Writing as much as possible in a given time. Sprinters often compare their word counts and at official Write-Ins, MLs may reward small prizes to the winners. The NaNoWriMo staff maintains a feed at for frequent online sprinting. In the Spokane Region, word sprints are more commonly referred to as word wars, reserving the “sprint” definition for the NaNoWriMo twitter feed.

Wrimo = a National Novel Writing Month participant.

Write-In = a group writing event, usually held at a library, coffee shop or restaurant, where Wrimos gather to write their novels. Usually aided by copious amounts of caffeine, sticker bribery and word wars (word sprints). May be attended virtually via Chatzy or Google+ hangouts, when held in a location providing wi-fi access.

Year of Big, Fun, Scary Adventures (The Year of Doing Big, Fun, Scary Things Together) = an annual post-November challenge to NaNoWriMo participants, in which participants post their adventurous goals for the year ahead.

Young Writers Program (YWP) = NaNoWriMo for kids and teens in grades K-12. YWP participants can set their own word count goals, interact with each other in monitored, kid-friendly forums, and access a host of resources. Educators can find lesson plans and teacher forums at the YWP site (