NaNo Terms, NaNoisms & Slang — An A-Z Guide

An old fashioned black typewriter.

When events have been running as long as NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNo (beginning officially in 2000 and 2011 respectively), they build up terminology that can leave newcomers more than a little flummoxed — and that’s before you take into account different regions and their own slang.

As such, welcome to our not-quite A-Z of NaNo technical, slang and regional terms!



Camp NaNoWriMo

A twice-yearly event that’s a little like NaNoWriMo, and a little not.  While NaNoWriMo is for fiction, with anything else being classified as rebelling, Camp NaNo is for anything you choose.  Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting … so long as it involves written words you’re good to go.  You can even set your own targets, making it a little more manageable for some writers.  Find out more here:


A chat server set up by NaNoers karalianne and Utoxin to enable writers around the world to form regional chat rooms or chat internationally. It’s accessed via IRC.


Not what you feel like doing over to your bed when you looked up from your document to find it’s three in the morning, but a specific kind of challenge found on the NaNo forums.  These often require one or two six-sided dice (or for those challenged in the numbered cube department) and involve working through a story — often a fandom one — while rolling your di(c)e to see how many words you’ll be writing for each section.  They can be challenging, exciting and fun, and they definitely help bring up your word count.


Discord is a form of chatroom, like IRC, but has a handy app made by the developers.  As there’s no variation in the market there’s no concern about different ways to connect, and you can connect to the #NottsNaNo room simply by following this link: Notts NaNo #general and either downloading the app or joining online.


One of two mascots of the Nottingham region, ferrets became popular initially as a dare but have become a recurring theme since then. You can find out a little more on the Regional NaNoisms page.


Usually used as a colloquial term to refer to the official NaNoWriMo forums, where most of the November-based action happens. There are forums for everything, from announcements of success to commiserations, along with sections for challenges, off-topic chat and games, age groups, genres and regions. The Nottingham regional forum can be found here:


IRC, or Internet Relay Chat, is a form of chatroom.  It is, relatively speaking, an old-fashioned way to chat and as such has a large variety of clients available to use, both online and available to download to your computer.

  • You can connect to the #NottsNaNo chatroom online by using ChatNano’s own online chat client.  The advantage is not needing to download a client to your computer, but you’ll need to sign in every time you use it.
  • IceChat is a good and fairly easy-to-use downloadable chat client.  The main advantage is not having to open Chrome just to chat.

You can find out more in our article about signing up and in via the various methods.


A black and white photograph of a group of writers working on laptops lined along a wall.As a region, we have two kinds of these: the monthly ones, which take place on the first Saturday of every month, and the NaNoWriMo ones, which take place the last Saturday of October, every Saturday of November and the first Saturday of December.  We meet up to chat about writing (or the lack thereof), complain about life in general and basically get out of the house and be social with like-minded people for once in a while.  These can always be found on the calendar, and usually are tweeted about as well as having the relevant event created on Facebook as a reminder.

Municipal Liaison

The nice way of saying “the person who organises NaNo-related events in your area”. Abbreviated to ML, this person arranges for such event-related items as stickers to be delivered, as well as organising meet-ups, write-ins (or co-ordinating with others who want to arrange their own write-ins), scheduling the event calendar and, in several cases (like this!) running a region‘s website.  The joys of being an ML are never-ending, and if the ML isn’t careful will never end.  In Nottingham, your MLs are Anika and Pax.


a.k.a. National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. the main event: NaNoWriMo takes place in November of every year, kicking off at the stroke of midnight on the 1st and carrying through until the last seconds of the 30th.  The challenge is to write 50,000 words of anything your heart desires in those 30 days (even including things that aren’t officially covered!) … and is the main reason we, as a group, exist.  You can find out more here:

Office of Letters and Light, The

The former name of the non-profit American organisation that runs NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo and the Young Writer’s Program, it was created as The Office of Letters and Light in 2006, but renamed to National Novel Writing Month in 2013.


Literally, a writer who flies writes by the seat of their pants (known as pantsing).  They have no plot — some have only the barest of ideas at all — and they write to see where they’re going and let the whole thing unfold organically in front of them as they go.  Some stop to plot things out a little more once they’ve started, others just plough straight on.  There’s no wrong way to do this.

Pep Talks

Emails sent out during NaNoWriMo, usually written by successful authors who have either taken part in the event or fully support the writers attempting it, and contain words of encouragement and hope.  There is an archive of Pep Talks from 2007 onwards on the NaNo website, which can be found here:


One of a dedicated breed of writer who plots out their story beforehand, ensuring that when they sit down to write it out during the main event they know exactly where they’re going.

Well, mostly exactly.

There’s a quote about how the most well-written plot in the world still often can’t stand up to meeting characters, but for the life of me I can’t find it. If you know it, please share it; I doubt I invented it myself, I’m not that smart.

Sometimes you might need to stop and rearrange your plot once your characters have decided to ignore it; you might instead choose to tell your characters they’re idiots and carry on where you left off.  Or indeed your characters might not have any objections at all.  Much like pantsing, there’s no wrong way to do this.


An unofficial mascot of NaNo, along with ferrets. Much like in Jurassic Park raptors can sneak into anything and can be found breeding happily in the Chatnano IRC chat rooms. Surprisingly easy to grow attached to.


Never one to go with the flow, a NaNo Rebel is a writer that writes something other than fiction in November.  Non-fiction, memoir, screenplay, anything that isn’t a straight-up story your mind can conceive of — until recently this even included fan-fiction.  Rebels only happen in November; you can’t rebel in Camp NaNo.


Your Region in NaNoWriMo is your home base, usually the city or area nearest to where you are physically located or, if you’re near to several different ones, the one you prefer the most.  Nottingham’s home region on the forums can be found here:

Script Frenzy

A precursor to Camp NaNo, Script Frenzy (or Screnzy, as it was abbreviated to) was the first offshoot of NaNoWriMo, dedicated to — you guessed it — trying to write a complete script in 30 days. It lasted only a couple of years before being retired, but echoes of it live on in Camp NaNo’s script options.


Not (just) a weird guy who sits around talking to himself, but an IRC chat robot responsible for, among other things, word wars, raptor stats and interjecting random comments into conversations.


A trope is a commonly recurring theme, cliché or archetype in a certain genre.  They can be considered hackneyed or overused, but for some genres (i.e. horror, romance) adhering to certain kinds is expected by readers.


A frequent cry and reminder during the latter stages of NaNoWriMo: Validation is when you enter the full text of your novel into NaNoWriMo’s validation tool. If you reach or exceed 50,000 words your status bar turns purple and you are an official Winner. You’re also eligible for any rewards and discounts offered by OLL and their sponsors.


Officially, to win is to meet your writing target for the month. In November, this means to write 50,000 words or more and then validate it, so your word count bar turns from green to purple. For Camp NaNoWrimo and the Young Writer’s Program, it means to attain whichever goal you have set.

Word Count

A screenshot of a NaNoWriMo word count chart, starting at 0 and ending at 50,000 words.The most important part of NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNo: how many words you write during the event. During particularly frantic parts of the month “what’s your word count?” can pass for a greeting. It can also be used as a fun method to motivate yourself: pick another writer and silently race them to beat their word count. You enter your word count on the official site it starts to fill up, charting your progress. When you exceed 50,000 words it turns green, and when you validate it turns royal purple to signify your success to the world.

Word Wars

These are a more competitive aspect to writing.  A writer sets a timer for a set period, i.e. five, ten or twenty minutes — or however long the fancy takes you, there’s no rule to say you can’t run a thirteen minute war — and everyone participating sits down to write furiously for that period.  At the end, writers compare how much they wrote in that period.  It can help inspire more words than you would otherwise manage on your own — and no matter how much anyone writes, everyone’s a winner!


These are where a group of writers get together and write either companionably or competitively (see Word Wars), and can be held either online or in person.  Meet-Ups often contain an element of this during November, but due to work and transport constraints there are no ML-led events held solely for write-ins.  If you plan to hold one, contact Anika or Pax with the details and they’ll add it to the calendar for you. (Please ensure it’s accessible to a fair portion of the group, and for your own safety in a public or semi-public space.)

Young Writer’s Program

A version of NaNoWriMo aimed at writers under the age of 18. Unlike the main NaNoWriMo site, young writers have access to their own forums, can write and store their novels directly on the site and, like Camp NaNo, the target is adjustable. You can find out more here:


Have we missed anything out?  Is there anything you’d want to add?  Let us know in the comments!

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