Thursday, September 30, 2010

Plot Bunnies and NaNoWriMo

For those of you who don't know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It's an event that takes place in November, where participants try to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It's really awesome and I highly encourage anyone who can to give it a try; the website is, and if you wait a couple of days before clicking on that link, you'll the shiny new 2010 version of the site.

I took part in NaNoWriMo for the first time last year, and I absolutely loved it. It was an amazing expirience, allowing me to create an entire novel - with a plot and characters and everything! In one month, plus a little extra time for finishing up after the month was complete. I'd written a novel before, but never like this! I was able to connect with other writers, get feedback and critiques on excerpts and characterization, get my questions answered, and push through writer's block in an entirely new manner. This was even more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writing than I was used too.

As December rolled on, however, I found that without the excitement of NaNoWriMo, I didn't have much enthusiasm for my project. Most of this, I later realized, was beccause of my eagerness to begin the editing of my first novel, which I had been brainstorming for ever since I finished it in late October. So I finished it, wrote one of my best epilogues ever (I was very proud of that, since I struggle with endings) and put it in a folder on my computer, thinking I wouldn't do much with it again.

Sometime in early spring I dragged the dusty old document out of my computer files and gave it another once-over. You know, I realized as I read through some of my favorite chapters, this wasn't half bad. The concept was original and I created some of my best characters yet. Maybe I'll give this another shot and edit it over the summer.

Let me tell you right now, THAT idea went entirely out the window. I'm going to be lucky if I finish the edits on the first novel, which I started revising in January, before the end of October. I am going to be very, VERY lucky. So I revised my writing schedule and figured that I'd move the editing of NaNoWriMo 2009's "The Kingdom in the Stars" to AFTER NaNo '10. It didn't seem like a big deal. After all, it wasn't as if ideas had been abounding like they were for the revision of "Battle for the Throne." (I know, I have a long-titles problem. I'm working on it.) I could put it out of my mind for the month of November at least.

So, I put thoughts of 2009's NaNoWriMo out of my head. We were getting a shiny new site; the forums were going to be wiped of all my silly questions about archery, my profile was going to be transformed into a clean slate where I could post my new novel synopsis and title, and my word count would be reduced back to zero, ready for me to start tracking my progress on November 1. I started writing down a few characters and a tentative setting, searching websites for good character names, finding a folder to dedicate my notes too. Everything was good. Kingdom in the Stars? What kingdom in the stars? What awesome elf-like beings who draw power from their constellation, which is also their namesake? That's ancient history!

Uh-huh. Sure. It was, until my mom turned on the National Geographic Channel.

The first thing you need to know about me is that ANYTHING will spike an idea. An entire plot took shape from remembering a book I read as a little kid and staring at the lines on my hand and wondering why they're like that. And one thing that has always given me ideas for, at the very minimum, a short story - shows on the History, Discovery, Science, and NatGeo channels. Short stories derived from snippers of MythBusters episodes? You bet. My 2011 NaNo plot entirely based off the show Life After People? Heck yeah. Fantasy worlds inspired by watching MonsterQuest and superhuman races formed by watching The Most Extreme? Well, duh. Religons that combined the best of Egyptian and Mayan mythology, gathered by late-night History Channel marathons? Well, you get the picture.

But I wasn't thinking about this when my mom switched the channel. The extent of my thought process went to "Ooh! Stephen Hawking!", because I'm just that much of a geek. But as soon as they started talking about expanding universes, orbiting planets, and colliding galaxies....Oh, yeah, THAT kingdom in the stars. THOSE elf-like beings who drew power from their namesake constellation. Heh. It's all coming back to me now.

So now, the plot bunny that has been silent since...I don't know....January? Decides to poke it's fuzzy little nose out of it's dark little hole, JUST when I need it to go into hibernation. I swear, I need to send all of these nasty little brutes to Plot Bunny Obidience school, because they have a nasty habit of popping up right when I need them to go away, and then going away right when I need them to pop up.

Although I guess I learned my lesson. No Stephen Hawking before NaNoWriMo. :-(

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