So, in classic form, the National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) starts tomorrow, and I feel horribly unprepared. For the last couple of years, I decided not to do NaNo only to decide at the last minute…meaning with between two weeks and a month to prepare.
This year, I decided not to bother pretending I wouldn’t do NaNo, as I’ve done it every year since my first, whether or not I planned to.
However, I’m in the middle of a big software project, have a few side projects, have one son who just started college and another who is applying, and that’s ignoring both my writing (I’m in the middle of a novel edit for example) and promotion activities when I just had a short story come out in an anthology.
My NaNo project is a young adult novel in a Steampunk world I conceived about two years ago…in fact with this novel idea. Since then, I have worked on many other projects, both long and short, including a romantic novella and a short story set in this world. However, my outline is still relatively rough, my plan to try out the long recommended Scrivener still in the early stages, and my mind was focused on other things.
Then two days ago, the magic of NaNo took hold. I started dreaming my opening scene.
This scene did not exist even in the revisions to my original outline. In that original outline, I was starting with the wrong character, thinking the key character would be semi-catatonic most of the time. However, I had the opportunity to meet Sam (Samantha) in the romantic novella as a younger girl, and realized any catatonia would be short lived with her hyper nature. So I redid the outline to make Sam not only a full character but one sharing the lead (or taking it).
However, the beginning of the revised novel had more to do with getting things in place than dragging the reader (kicking and screaming) into the novel.
Which is where the dream came in.
It was not enough to have her sister (and mother figure) fall sick. Why wouldn’t her brother-in-law allow her to stay? And why would Lily let Sam go under any circumstances?
And that’s where the sometimes catatonia (or in her case hyper activity) comes into play.
With the new opening, there’s no “this is what a natural is and what a natural can do” data dump. Instead, you see Sam’s state from two perspectives, her own and then overhearing her sister and brother-in-law discussing the problems. You see both the short-lived “pity me” moment of Sam being cast aside and her “I can fix it” attitude, but you also learn from the start that sometimes the fix isn’t what Sam wants, nor does it go as smoothly as Lily hopes.
So, from dragging my feet, terrified as the hours ticked down that I wouldn’t have a single word to put on the page, now I’m holding myself back, watching the clock, and urging it on.
This is why I can never pass up NaNo. As a word count challenge, it’s not much of a stretch for me (though I’ve had issues this year because of the focus on editing), but the energy and feeling of all those fingers poised above keyboards across the world breaks through all distractions and makes the magic happen.
Are you going to be sucked in this year?