Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. – Cyril Connolly
It is that time of year. National Novel Writing Month. Goal: 50,000 words in 30 days. This is my fourth year doing it. It doesn’t really even faze me any more.
Though this year I’ve added an extra challenge for myself: I’m writing by hand. I really prefer to write stories by hand. It makes me slow down enough to actually think about what I’m saying. But I always figured NaNoWriMo would be the exception because of the time crunch.
Then last April’s Camp NaNoWriMo happened. It’s a sort of mini version of the same thing, but one variety is that you can pick your word count. I was only officially aiming for 10,001 words, though the story was going to go way beyond that and I was expecting to get closer to 30,000. I decided I could manage that many words by hand in a month even though school was happening at the same time.
I ended up with 46,290 words.
So this time, I figured that if I could get that close without setting out to do so, I can probably manage the 50,000. And I can always switch to typing in the middle if it gets to be too much.
This year, I’m doing a story about the Clan, the characters some friends and I have developed that I discussed in this post last month. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about and you’re curious, go read that post; it’s too long to explain again.) At one point, someone had suggested that we needed a story about them with a plot like the TV show Once Upon a Time. Before a day had passed, I had decided to claim that idea for NaNo.
Once Upon a Time is about a bunch of fairy tale characters who were cursed by the Evil Queen so that they forgot who they were and were sent to live in our modern world. The first season is about them figuring this out and breaking the curse. So that’s my basic plot. With a lot of tweaking. For one thing, it had to be adjusted to fit into our science fiction world instead of a magical one. And despite the Clan having nine people, that’s nowhere near as many characters as even just the first season of Once Upon a Time has.
It also required a villain. We had never had one who would be the type to do this sort of thing. So I set about creating one. It turned out to be another Time Lord: the Maestro. She’s probably one of the most well-developed characters I’ve ever had. She practically thinks in music. She loves manipulating people and seeing what they do in different situations, and she has no boundaries about doing so. She thinks of herself as very sophisticated. I kind of love her.
There is the thought that finally, for the first time, I’m developing a character to insert into our universe – and she’s a villain. I’m not quite sure what this says about me.
At first I felt a little funny about dedicating NaNo to this sort of story. But I had not been having any ideas that I wanted to write and that were ready to be developed enough to turn into a decent story. This had both those factors. And I decided that I would rather spend the time writing something that I’m excited about and that has a chance of turning out fairly well. And that doing so would probably be better writing practice overall.
Thus far, it’s been going well. Some of these characters I really do not feel qualified to write. And I certainly have scenes that will need to be scrapped or repurposed. But other characters I can pull off quite well. And there are scenes that are rather excellent if I do say so myself. And I’m having a ton of fun with it.