NaNoWriMo is fast approaching and I posted a few weeks ago about an idea I have been playing with about doing a modern version of Martin Luther, using Edward Snowden as an example. Instead of Luther posting 95 theses against practices of the Catholic Church and eventually sparking a Protestant Reformation and subsequent peasant revolts, it would be a tech specialist working for the government who exposes practices of the US Government in a series of posts online, sparking public debate and eventual reformation of the government.
It is an interesting idea and would be fun to write, though it would probably take quite a bit of research into Edward Snowden and NSA and other topics of Government and reformation. But, I guess I am still stuck on what the point would be. I like to approach writing with a purpose. What story am I trying to tell? What is the point? What do I want readers to get from this as they read? Maybe that’s the wrong approach and I should just start writing and let the novel evolve from this starting point, but for me, having a goal informs where the plot should go and what I want to happen to these characters.
I am not one of those writers who has to know every detail up front, I do not have reams of notes with all of the little things written about every minor character or setting. I do enjoy the spontaneity that NaNoWriMo allows — the fact that you just sit down and start writing and see what happens. I had some great experience with that a few years back where I was completely stuck and then just starting writing whatever came to mind, with no pre-planning of the scene or its setting or where it fit into the plot, and it helped me write the character in a better way. It’s not that the character took on a life of her own and I was discovering new things about her — I don’t buy into that camp of writing. I am the author, I write everything about these characters, they don’t write themselves. But, putting her into a situation I had not previously planned and plotted out was a way for me to explore her better, to see what I would have her do in certain circumstances.
With this 7 Point Plot structure, though, you plan out the big events in the novel, the sign posts along the way. It becomes more like a road trip. You do not plan out every single stop, what is going to happen every single mile — but you plan where your overnight stops are going to be and let yourself be surprised by the little things you happen to find along the way. According to Dan Wells, the 7 points of each plot are: Hook, Plot Turn I, Pinch I, Midpoint, Pinch II, Plot Turn II, Resolution. These are the major events in the novel that get the plot moving, but they do not detail the events of every individual scene. That’s the way I like to plan a novel. With a few solid sgn posts, a couple of plot points that I want to make sure I hit, but then leave the rest of the novel up for discovery.
But, I am not sure that I am completely committed to this Modern Luther story. I don’t know if I have enough planning material to jump in and start writing. I don’t have the plot points mapped out, and don’t know if I can get that done in time. So, I have been playing around with a few other ideas as well, looking for the one that will grab me this year and force me to write it.
I am still working on the Mormon Steampunk idea for several years now, and just haven’t ever gotten it to a place where I felt it was right. I might use NaNoWriMo as a time to hammer out some more words for it and see what sticks. I have been wanting to combine the original Mormon Steampunk novel idea — of dragon-like creatures, “flying, fiery serpents” to use the biblical phrase, destroying towns and settlements in the West, and a former airship captain/adventurer who is now an Apostle who rides out to confront them — with another Alternative Mormon History idea I had a few years ago about an explorer in the Uinta mountains in Utah finding a series of caves and discovering a whole civilization living underground in the mountains. It was originally a Nephite city that was buried during the great upheavals described in 3 Nephi, and there were some survivors when a city was swallowed up in the earth and they have continued to live underground. I am thinking that the Apostle, on his journey to find these “flying, fiery serpents” stumbles upon this underground society and maybe they have legends or stories about these creatures and can help him find them?
In any case, I am excited to NaNoWriMo. And if all else fails, I may just use NaNoWriMo as an excuse to get some major writing done. Who cares if I don’t finish one novel or another, as long as I track my word count and reach the 50,000 mark by the end of the 30 days, who’s to say I cannot work on two or three different novels at once? I’ll take it day by day and work on the piece that interests me at the time, all the while working on that 50000 word goal.