Ah, November … there’s a chill in the air, and aspiring novelists everywhere spend the month hunched over their keyboards, visions of best-seller lists dancing in their heads.
NaNoWriMo – that’s National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated – is an online challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Last year was my first time participating in NaNoWriMo, and I wear my ‘winner’ t-shirt with pride.
This year for Nano, I’m planning a story that’s a little different from anything I’ve written before. It’s first person, for one thing, which has me worrying about getting the voice right, and avoiding ‘telling’ when I should be ‘showing’. It’s also more of a character driven story, rather than the plot driven stories I’m more comfortable with.
The story got its start in a scene that wouldn’t leave me alone: A little girl, sick with fever, woke up from a dream where both her parents had died from the fever. Her mother soothes her tears, tells her it was only a nightmare. When the little girl wakes again, her fever finally broken, she finds that it wasn’t simply a nightmare after all; she is an orphan.
It’s evolved a little since then. The scene I originally wrote happened years before the story starts. The younger sister in the original scene has become an older sister. My white board is mapped, and the first third of the plot is covered with scribbles, with just a few high points to hit the rest of the way through. I’m a pantser at heart – I wouldn’t like it if everything was planned out, the fun is in discovering where the characters take me.
Right now, I’m struggling to fit my protagonist’s prophetic dreams into the story. For a time, I’d even decided to eliminate that ability. I don’t want to rely on dreams to move the plot, but they’re a part of the character that I don’t want to lose, something that makes her unique. Of course, she’s also got an older sister who’s hunting a husband, a high society aunt who’s supposed to be looking after her, a best friend with whom she doesn’t talk, a teacher who’s about to fall from grace, and a horse who needs her help. She’s got a lot on her plate for a 12-year-old.
Are you Nanoing this year? How’s your Nano-prep going?