I’ve been off the grid for a while, and here’s why.
In the last two weeks, I’ve had a massive shift in which novel I’m writing for NaNoWriMo. It’s changed things up, but I think I’m mostly prepared now.
THE FIRST PLAN
In NaNoWriMo last year, I saw a huge amount of fantasy novels being written, and I had an idea which was a following, then destruction of, “The Hero’s Journey”. I still intend on writing this at some point.
The book is set in my, “Fallen Kingdoms” world from an RPG I’ve been using, but in a separate location with separate people. Against the backdrop of a revolution, a fisherman loses everything he has and a noble is conscripted into a resistance to the new powers. Both are going through their own permutations of the Hero’s Journey until the inevitable clash between them. It’s all about revolution and political upheaval in a high fantasy setting, religion, madness and twisted old regimes.
It might be my next year, but I realised I wasn’t prepared enough with the middle act or the supporting cast.
MY SECOND PLAN
Point of Departure was my first NaNoWriMo book. It was just over 50,000 words and when Proofreader Steve made a couple of editing copies, one for him, one for me, I glanced at mine and felt disgust.
Much like JK Rowling in the first Harry Potter, I started with a very specific tone of voice and lost it part way through. Even worse, I changed tense ALL THE TIME. In my rush, I ruined what could have been a workable first draft.
I love PoD and the brilliantly-flawed cast. I thought that I should plan to redraft it in NaNoWriMo 2011. I know now that it’s a horror story, even though that snuck up on me the first time. I wrote on my whiteboard in giant words, “COLLECTIVE FIRST PERSON PRESENT TENSE”. That’ll make more sense next year, when I’m done with the second draft.
The thing is, I read the first 50 pages of the 300 which made up PoD and it’s not that bad. The tenses kill me, but there are so many scenes I love which I’d forgotten about. I improvised a lot of the book, with just a Kanban of the core dramatic events. Listing the scenes and events would take ages.
Then I read a Chuck Wendig article about NaNoWriMo and how this should be a Zero Draft. I realised I wanted to do the second draft of Point of Departure, but it’d take way more than a month to do.
About a week or two before I came to the realisation about Point of Departure, I worked out how to handle some of the timing problems and to utilise a character in another project I have, Knights 48. Originally planned as a comic or television script, the infinite budget of the imagination helps it.
Knights 48 (possibly London Knights if it doesn’t sound too much like Baywatch Nights) is the story of people who investigate the weird and keep the balance between the mundance and magical worlds.
I used to say, “Civil Servants of the Supernatural” to emphasise the mundanity of the fantastical in this world. The fairytale and the mythological exists alongside us, in our peripheral vision. We see it occasionally, but write it off as either our imaginations or we repress what it really is.
The Knights hire people who are aware of the strange and haven’t hidden or forgotten it.
JJ is a young man who foiled a bank robbery. He’s was a local hero for five minutes and everything went back to normal… just not for him. JJ saw the robbers for the monsters they were, and he took something from them. A ring which allows him to run, jump and move in ways he couldn’t before.
Izdihar “Izzy” Gardener, is a sarcastic video shop clerk who saw a troll in a business suit and started an investigation of her own. When confronted by the Knights, it turns out there’s a lot of weird in her life which she thought was completely normal, most of it lurking in the garden outside her shop.
When Knights 48 are lost in a tube station-turned-labyrinth, it’s up to these new Knights to rescue them. The only problem is that with labyrinths come minotaurs.
Set in the far-gone year of 1999, we follow the investigations of the Knights in a London both familiar and weird at the same time. Suburban wasp-people, part-bear part-owl lawyers, fairytale tower blocks and zombies in data entry await our cast. Throughout all of these smaller cases, the old and new Knights try to establish their place in this world, as well as a traitor from within their ranks.
This is the first of five books covering the secret history of the 20th century, and the changes that happen at its end.
That’s a basic blurb. My intent is that it’ll be about 70,000 words, placing it at about half of Lightning, a more reasonable first novel length and a limited series.
At the moment I have a synopsis written on an e-mail to my proofreaders, and I’m warping that a little when I put it on my whiteboard and my OCD NaNoWriMo spreadsheet which will tell me how many words I’m at each day, then how many are left, if I’m under or over par and so on. It also has a chapter/scene layout checklist and a timeline of things in the late 90’s so I know what popular culture I can or can’t reference. It disturbs me that when I came up with the idea in 2002, it was a quirk of timing which made it set at the turn of the millennium and now it’s almost a period piece. Damn, I’m old.
Still, I’ve been working myself up and getting very excited for this project. I’ve got myself an extra hour off work for the first week, and then I’m on holiday for the rest of it. I can’t wait. Come at me, novel. I’ll fight you, and I’ll win.