October 21, 2010

NaNoWriMo is Nigh!

National Novel Writing Month is only 10 days away! This week I finally started getting excited. I've been thinking more about that barely formed idea I mentioned last month, and while it hasn't come much more together, I'm now certain that I'm willing to spend a month with it.

I don't like talking about my novel ideas until I've come up with a way to describe them coherently, and this story definitely isn't to that point yet, but here's what I'll say: the story takes place in the aftermath of an epidemic that has killed a lot of people.

Since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by post-apocalyptic settings, doomsday scenarios, and the collapse of civilization. I like to read this type of book (though I've only scratched the surface of the genre), so why not write one? The idea is appealing to me right now because I'm honestly getting tired of what I usually write, which is stories about people's personal problems. It's great subject matter and all, but I feel like it's time to write something where what's at stake affects more than a family.

Incidentally, there's a big earthquake in THE EXTENT OF THE DAMAGE, so I was already kind of heading in this direction, but in the U.S., even a large quake is only a limited catastrophe, and that novel is still mostly about a family's personal problems. I'm sure my NaNo novel will also focus heavily on individual lives, but I hope to explore some broader issues, too.

I've decided that what I'm going to do differently this year is allow myself to not end the month with a readable story. In the past, I've always written from beginning to end, making every effort to create a reasonably coherent plot and stay within the bounds of what made sense to put in the story. At the end of November, I always had 50,000 or more words that I could give to friends who understood the roughness of a NaNoWriMo first draft -- not for critique at that point, but to satisfy their curiosity and provide them with some entertainment. (The last couple of years, though, I was so disenchanted with my NaNo novels that I don't think I even passed them on to these interested trusted readers.) I always wrote an actual first draft of a novel (or, to be fair, a chunk of a larger novel).

This year I'm going to aim to write 50,000 words in service of a possible eventual novel. Some will be normal first draft scenes, but I also expect to write a lot of world-building, backstory, and notes that would never go into the novel itself. I might write out of order, and maybe I'll try out different points of view that I won't necessarily keep using. My kernel of an idea is much too vague for me to just start writing a story, so I'm going to try out this method and see how it goes.

I think this is going to be an exciting November.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ MobyLives talks about the problem -- one I've struggled with -- of putting current technology in fiction without turning it into fiction about current technology: "It's a fascinating literary balancing act, the precarious wire between timeliness and timelessness."


Anna Scott Graham said...

That sounds intriguing! I'm trying a lit-fic attempt, we'll see how it goes.

Less than ten days away is November, very exciting! :)

laurenhat said...

Oh yay, glad you're excited! I'm really intrigued by your notion for this year, and eager to hear how it goes.

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