I wanted to write a NaNoWriMo this year (2014) and began with great enthusiasm using an old science fiction idea from 1972. Unfortunately, I bogged down on Nov 7 at approx. 9100 words with a great idea, a handful of unlikely characters in similar but varied troubles, and a static situation… but I didn’t have a plot.
I flailed around for a few days, adding a few words here and there, changing others, but not making any forward progress. When I was a week behind the word quota of almost 12,000, I gave up the idea of doing the story as a NaNoWriMo project. Instead, I dove into the libraries, my own writing library and the public libraries, and read everything I could find on plot and plotting. The bottom line: plot derives from conflict. I had no conflict. What to do? What to do? (Wring hands here.)
Today is Nov 26. I awoke at 4am this morning knowing what the story is about. It’s essentially a dystopian escape story: people trapped in the future (I already knew that), some 400+ years in the future, on an island created by sea level rise, the remnants of civilization in desperate straits, populations depleted and demoralized by disease, pollution, resource wars… and those in control are afraid that the cyrogens’ ideas will cause revolution. They are kept isolated from the world on their island. What they do about their situation is the story I can now dig into and begin to write.
The characters will remain, but the situation has evolved now that I know they are on an island. I need a protagonist, though he/she won’t have a square jaw and wear a white hat. He/she is a victim like the rest, but will be the leader who changes the situation for all. I’m off to the races. The slog now begins. This is the writing process & how it works.
NaNoWriMo is poised to begin – only two more days of fretting about the project before we have to dig in and actually do it. My NaNoWriMo project for this year is Cryogens, a science fiction mystery about the future.
For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It’s an online challenge (google it) to write a 50,000 word first draft (that’s only 1667 words per day) during the month of November. It’s a gas! If you commit, you will learn a great deal about yourself as a writer, and perhaps even have a book when you’re done. I have done this once before (2012) and the result was a 32,444 word “mysterical adventure” entitled The Extra Body. It was the first time I started a book with no idea what it was about, who the characters might be, or where it was going to go. I have quite enough to do in my daily life without adding NaNoWriMo pressure, and wasn’t planning to do it again this year, but something happened while I was casting about for a story idea.
Looking through some old notes, I discovered a worn and torn manila envelope dated 1972 that had some scribbled notes for Cryogens. It’s a story that has been in waiting for years. 1972! Can you imagine? The story had never been written, but it was a good idea then and still is. I didn’t write it then because I was too young; I didn’t know enough about people or the world. Perhaps I was involved in other projects – like trying to earn a living as a photographer. But now, with many more years under my belt (which is of somewhat greater diameter), I feel I can write the story of the people I invented so long ago. NaNoWriMo 2014 is the perfect opportunity.
So I’ve been scribbling more notes on my iPad, emailing them to myself, and picking them up in OpenOfficeWriter for editing. (BTW, I’m going write the book in OpenOfficeWriter instead of MS-Word. I’m sick of Microsoft’s system “enhancements” and arrogance. So this year — lots of challenges.)
Who else is coming along for the ride? Want a writing challenge? NaNoWriMo might just be it.
(Boy, this sure reads like an advert for NaNoWriMo. It started out to be about Cryogens, but seems to have gone off track. Oh, well. Best of intentions…)