What are you writing for NaNoWriMo? Briefly explain how this book idea come about. Then write a mock first page for the novel.
That’s what the TCWT blog chain want to know this month, and in the past I would have found this more than easy. I mean, until recently my novel was fully planned – I knew my characters, I knew who the murderer was, and I knew a whole load about how it was opening and developing throughout the first five or so chapters.
And then I got a plot bunny. And now I have a plot and a couple of characters, but I know very little about them. I’m not 100% sure whose voice I’m writing in. And above all, I don’t know how it’s going to open.
However, let’s not focus on the things I don’t know. What do I know?
It’s a novel about the apocalypse, though it’s also historical. (And if anyone can tell me anything of interest about 1860s Russia not covered by Wikipedia, I will love you for a long time.) It takes elements from the Bible… okay, quite a few elements from the Bible, mainly the Apocrypha, which I had never read before now. The blurb from my NaNoWriMo profile is this:
Two girls leave their mother to undertake an epic journey that will take from the very furthest point in Russia to the heart of Victorian London, searching for the weapon that has the power to destroy the world and all of heaven and hell. The forces of good are depending on them to avert the apocalypse, and the forces of evil are depending on them to fail in their quest and bring about the end of the world.
Their travels will rob them of their childhood and everything they love. Angels watch over them, but their steps are dogged by demons just waiting for a mistake. The only clue they have is one word: ‘chaos’. And very soon they will learn that not all weapons are easily recognised.
I’ve provisionally entitled the novel ‘Weapons Of Chaos’, and I think that’s likely to stick.
So, where did this plot bunny come from? Where did I get the idea to write something angsty and dark, full of difficult decisions and people dying? (If you know me at all, you won’t even bother to ask that.) A song. That’s where it came from.
A while back I listened to a track called ‘Ten Thousand Miles To Bedlam’ by a small Celtic-inspired group I’d never heard of – Ockham’s Razor. And I didn’t like it. But it kept coming up on shuffle and as I listened, a few words caught my attention, so I listened to them again. And again. And while I was studying the lyrics, I realised that the song was actually incredibly clever and incredibly interesting, because it could be interpreted in many ways.
So I arted for a while, drew a couple of pictures inspired by the song, and then forgot about it. Until a few weeks ago, when I listened to it again, and suddenly the desire to draw more pictures overwhelmed me. I would draw a picture for every line of the song, and then write a story connecting that pictures. That was my intention.
But half an hour later I was sitting in a Classics lesson, brain-splatting onto a piece of paper while taking notes on Juvenal’s Satire III, and a plot emerged. Slowly, and with great difficulty, it began to take shape. A few elements were there from the beginning, but connecting them was a little harder.
By the end of the period I had a page of notes and ideas and reminders to ‘read the apocrypha because dude you know nothing about angels’.
I still had no characters. That was okay. I’m used to starting out with characters and having a plot that develops while I write it; having an ending before I know who’s telling the story is very rare. And I’m still not certain whether it will be in first person or third, present tense or past… I’ll get there. I’ve got nearly three weeks.
Now, the second half the prompt is very tricky. Write a mock first page. From a few of the posts I’ve seen so far, a paragraph is enough.
But I can’t.
I can’t because I have no idea where this story is going to start, and I am hoping that over time that will become clear. I can’t because if I start writing I won’t be able to stop, which isn’t allowed because it’s almost three weeks until November, and if I stop, it’ll be hard to start again come November. I can’t because without a ‘voice’, there is nobody to tell my story. I don’t have a narrator yet.
So you don’t get a first page. Or a first paragraph.
I can’t even give you the song because there isn’t a good version on YouTube. (There is, however, an entire album on Spotify. If you use Spotify, I recommend you look it up. ‘Mad Tom of Bedlam Town’ is quite wonderfully creepy.)
And thus hard prompts do make ramblers of us all.
Enjoy the rest of the chain.
October 5th – http://www.lilyjenness.blogspot.com – Lily’s Notes in the Margins
October 6th – http://realityisimaginary.blogspot.com – Reality Is Imaginary
October 7th – http://onelifeglory.blogspot.ca – One Life Story
October 8th – http://gabrielletheauthoress.wordpress.com – Of a Writerly Sort
October 9th – http://towerofplot.blogspot.co.uk – The Leaning Tower of Plot
October 10th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com – This Page Intentionally Left Blank
October 11th – http://whatupdates.blogspot.com – What Updates?
October 12th – http://miriamjoywrites.wordpress.com – Miriam Joy Writes (YOU ARE HERE)
October 13th – http://cinderscoria.blogspot.com – Between the Lines
October 14th – http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com – Inside the Junk Door
October 15th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com – Musings From Neville’s Navel
October 16th – http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com – Kirsten Writes!
October 17th – http://mirrormadeofwords.wordpress.com – A Mirror Made of Words
October 18th – http://theteenagewriter.wordpress.com – The Teenage Writer
October 19th – http://platonicpencil.wordpress.com – Platonic Pencil
October 20th – http://markobrienwrites.blogspot.com – Mark O’Brien Writes
October 21st – http://amandafoody.blogspot.com – It’s All In My Head
October 22nd – http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com – The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
October 23rd – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com – Teens Can Write, Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)
(PS – I’m on a camp this weekend so if it’s a couple of days before I reply to your comments, you have not been ignored… I’m just not here.)