So – yes. Hello. Happy Tuesday to you.
I regret to inform you that my plans for yesterday, Bank Holiday Monday (i.e. to do loads of work), didn’t really materialise as I expected.
We had a lovely and unexpected visit from my parents-in-law, which basically made me relax and enjoy my day off. As a result, lots of the planning I wanted to do for my NaNoWriMo project is still undone.
This morning, however, I’m wondering whether that’s a blessing in disguise.
You might remember me saying that when I signed up for NaNoWriMo, I had a project in mind. I had a title for it, but very little else. I spent a day or two last week drawing up characters and their profiles and their relationships and family dynamics and the details of a plot, and then last Friday my brain was invaded. An entirely new story, an entirely different voice, a full-blooded, spiky and determined little character sat down inside my mind and a story started to tell itself. I scrambled for a pen and tried to follow this voice as it spoke, and three pages later it faded out. I’ve been trying to plan – all in my mind, of course – a story arc for this wondrous character ever since.
However, can too much planning, in this case, be a bad thing? Well. I’m still not sure.
It’s rare and fantastic to ‘hear’ a strain of a story, and it’s a lucky person who happens to be in the right place at the right time and whose brain is tuned in just the right way to pick up on a tale as it passes. Last Friday, I was that lucky person. I literally sat down and wrote, without even thinking, the opening few pages of a new book; I loved everything about it. I’m not saying these words are set in stone, or that they won’t change between now and the time I write ‘The End’ on this particular project, but I know it was exciting to feel so enthused and positive about a writing project. It felt fresh and spontaneous and free and unbidden, and I wonder if setting up a scaffold for the rest of it and expecting the story to fit a certain mould or conform to a particular plan, is something that will kill it stone dead.
Then, having said that, I don’t want to reach 20,000 words and hit a wall.
So, I’m trying to compromise. I’m laying foundations for this story, but they’re not solid like poured concrete, and there are no inflexible metal bits. My foundations are in my head, still – I’ll start putting them down on paper after November 1st, and we’ll see if I can keep the process as organic as possible – and they are, as yet, pretty vague. I have a main character, and I have a name for her. I have another character, and a name and basic outline for him. I have an Antagonist who has a Dastardly Plan (insert your own ‘mwahahahaha’ here), and I have a sense of the world they inhabit. Importantly, I have a handle on the voice of the story, which is different to anything I’ve done before – and, crucially, is in the third person – and I really want to keep that little voice alive, because it’s thrilling.
What I don’t have in any real sense is any idea how my protagonist is going to get from point A to point Z – as in, from the first site of conflict with her enemies to her final showdown. However, perhaps I’d do well to discover it along with her. I’m imagining a tense chase through the icy streets of Paris, a scuffle at the Gare du Nord, and a pair of stowaways bundling themselves onto a northbound train…
Anyway, stick with me through November and hopefully I’ll have plenty more updates to share with you. If you’re taking part in NaNoWriMo and you’d like to be my writing buddy (or if you just want to have a peek at my page), you can find it here.
Whatever you’re laying the foundation for today, I hope it goes well.