It’s coming up on that time of year again. November is less than a month away, and we all know what that means. It’s NaNoWriMo time. I even have a special new banner, featuring my attempt at drawing a car in MS Paint (shut up, it’s a car). I am the first to admit that last year, I fucked up. I made the decision to participate on the evening of November 1st. I had no idea what I was doing, and I had no story ideas around that time. I was in a slump, and NaNoWriMo seemed like a good way to get that spark back, to motivate myself. All I had was a pretty weak comic script for an idea called Children of the Elder God. On that first day, I converted it into prose, leading to the first chapter of the CotEG novel, Unfriendly Skies. It’s pretty bad, but it can be read here.
This year, I’m doing things differently. I have been preparing since September. I went back through various idea notes to see if any stuck out at me. Now, when I write out ideas I use shorthand notes, or elevator pitches. For example, the original note for The Nightlands, the story I have been labouring with up until recently was “30 Days of Night meets Remus from Star Trek Nemesis”. Another recent idea would be “three teens commit suicide in attempt to take over hell”.
The idea that sparked what eventually became my NaNoWriMo story was “The Warriors but women”. The Warriors is one of my favourite films of all time, and I tend to enjoy writing female protagonists more than male heroes. From that original pitch, the idea evolved, sucking in other idea snippets from the pages in my notebook, growing and growing like some big crazy out of control growy black hole story idea sucky thing. Note to self: work on getting better at similes.
The idea has grown and morphed into a story that takes inspiration from the original feminist movement, The Warriors, The Runaways, hardcore and punk rock music, Marilyn Monroe, Quentin Tarantino (Death Proof in particular), post-apocalyptic fiction, and a whole slew of other things. I am currently in the outlining phase. If November is National Novel Writing Month, October is National Novel Planning Month. My overall plot is in place. I know where the story begins and ends, and I have several tentpole moments in the middle. The next step is separating it into acts, and then breaking those down into chapters.
Last time, I winged it. This time, I’m doing it right.