It’s that time of year again, when nascent novelists staring at their calendars and drool with anticipation for November 1st and the frantic magic of National Novel Writing Month. Novels are in the air, people. Breathe deep and get those fingers warmed up.
I’ve been doing this shit since 2002. I skipped last year because I just didn’t have the drive, nor did I care enough about what I had planned on writing. I’d been half committed this year (to NaNoWriMo, not the loony bin, damn it), with plans to go back to last year’s idea and retool it a bit, but I still couldn’t get behind it. In my attempts to make that idea more interesting, I met a new character.
His name is Sage Sparrow. For the first few nights as I lay contemplating, Sage was merely an almost interesting victim in the other story, but I knew there was more to him than that. Then I dreamed about him, about the walled city and about the Standing Griffins, a group of human batteries. Former batteries. The company had apparently gone out of business, and the men were kind of stuck where they were. They have no feet. Sage hooked up with one of them, and somehow found out that something weird was going on and the guy who’d brought him to the Standing Griffins was behind it. Details were lost upon waking, of course, and other details were changed and/or expanded. My current synopsis is this:
A young drifter named Sage Sparrow takes refuge in a mysterious walled port city after he’s brutally attacked. After accepting a rare job offer and completing the job, he’s introduced to a group of human batteries known as the Standing Griffins. Sage overhears a conversation between the man who hired him and one of the Griffins that tells him something sinister is going on and that he’s about to fall victim to it.
Subjects to the whims and laziness and insanity of Muse, of course.
I don’t know what the sinister plot is. I haven’t met all the characters or pinned down the setting. I’ve got broad sketches of all that, of Sage’s past and of the overall feel of the story — gritty, cold, violent, dirty, pornographic (because I will include sex scenes but not “love” scenes [and I have other thoughts/ideas about this part]). I could spend October planning, building the setting, creating detailed backgrounds for the characters and accumulating pages and pages of material before getting down to writing the novel. In the past I would have done just that. Not this year.
It isn’t that I don’t want to. I have a few paragraphs of one background story already done. I want to tell the story. It’s a vital piece of Sage’s past and will have some bearing on the thing I’ll be writing in November. But I don’t want to work that hard. I want to learn more about this walled city, but again, that’s hard work, and I don’t want to. I want to do all that in November. After the first year, I got in the habit of doing a lot of prewriting — not outlining; I hate outlines. Just notes, short stories to get to know the characters’ backgrounds, random possible scenes and things like that. Every year I did more of it, the less fun November actually was. So I’m not letting myself get carried away with all that. I will end up writing something down before November. I can’t help that, but I’m not doing any more plotting than what I’ve put in that synopsis.
That means that in all likelihood, the story is going to suck because it’s going to end up an incoherent mess. But I don’t care. Not one bit. I’m already in love with these characters, which means I will do my best to torture them as well as I possible can.
How many more days until November?