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comment Referencing the process of writing the novel as a part of the novel's plot
I know there are many examples of this kind of work, but to me "The Orchid Thief" is a good representation of this. If you want to go all Eugene O'Neill and get emotionally waterboarded for three hours, "Syncedoche, New York" is a very intense specimen in this genre.
comment Does a thematic quote qualify as an allusion?
What SF said -- this is not an allusion: "'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world". This quote ABOUT Mandela is an allusion to the life of Fredrick Douglass: "During my research for the film I found out that the autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley was one of the books that kept Nelson Mandela going in his many years of imprisonment, so I got the idea that we could have Nelson be in the last scene of the film. The last line of the speech was: ‘By any means necessary’, and Nelson told me: ‘Spike, I can’t say that. I cannot say “by any means necessary”."
comment Using ideas from other authors without infringing copyright
Thanks for the accept, but pay attention to the other responses - you absolutely cannot use any of the proper nouns, etc from the series if you are going to publish the work. You need to make it --original--, not just the same ingredients in a new arrangement. Good luck and don't be afraid to copy the masters (many creatives start out by copying works they admire) - just be clear about what you're creating to sell and what you're creating for practice.
comment What format should I use for this project?
Check out Ward Cunningham's for an example of how a wiki-like format can invite contributions.
comment How does one deal with world builder's syndrome?
"But you are describing procrastination." well put. Ask yourself - will this activity add to my word count this week?" If not, drop it.
comment Is an anthology a valid NaNoWriMo entry?
That's two answers that anthologies are OK, so I'll call it good. Thanks.