Monday, November 2, 2009

[NaNoWriMo] Insanity? Obsession? Corsets?

Officially as of November 1, 2009, I am once again attempting NaNoWriMo. That would be National Novel Writing Month. The rather ambitious goal of which is to write 50,000 words - the length of a 170+ page novel - by the end of November.

Last year, I only made it to some nebulous area of 8-10K words and then burned out. I learned a valuable lesson: if you don't have an outline - or really, no plot even - you are not going to write a 50K novel in one month's time. The second lesson I learned was that Fantasy writing is very hard without some preemptive world building before the actual writing. In much the same way I have wondered a time or two how the use of magic in Dungeons and Dragons would impact human behavior, it is probably a good idea to have parameters.

So this time I have gone where I have only tentatively gone before: a sketchy outline that morphs daily (mostly I pull 8o% of my stories out of my ass while I'm writing it) and the boundary that I need so as not to go all over the place - and then overwhelm myself. The boundary this time is Britain and Portuguese/Chinese Macao of 1825-1831. A time period I enjoy very much and researched extensively while I was living in Japan - although the introduction of Google Books and my proximity to the NYPL make it much easier. As I enjoy the novels of Stephanie Laurens and Eloisa James, I thought I would try my hand at a somewhat gritty romance novel.

And by gritty, I mean somehow my main character, Anne Edwardes, has a half-sister who is half-Macanese (although I don't know if the nativized Portuguese who lived there referred to themselves as such at the time). Unlike her other half-siblings, Lucy has lost the genetic game of roulette and has the very (time-specific) unfavorable features of her distant Chinese antecedents. So she has to remain locked in the House - her only views of life beyond Chrysanthemum House the Spanish garden in the middle of the building and through a looking glass that Anne gives her. I find a lot of similarities to her plight and the Lady of Shallot - and have to work very hard to not become too interested in her story before writing out Anne's more generic one.

There's the whole issue of Anne's (non-practicing, but obviously) homosexual brother, Sebastian. Lucky for me, the period Earl of Devon - whose residence is ironically close to where the Edwardes' English house is - was actually a confirmed (and reputedly quite good looking) homosexual. Although he apparently lived most of his life in America. Yeah, I think gritty is the word.

Right now I just have to worry about murder, lost loves, mistaken identities and corsets. And it seems to be going alright... if I can divorce myself from the constant need for fact checking. If I could put footnotes ala Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in my novel, I absolutely would.

But I am a nerd.

2808 words on Sunday. 1742 tonight. The goal is the seemingly nefarious total of 1666 words everyday to keep on schedule. And trying not to descend into archaic speak in an attempt to not break character. I asked my Mom if my niece was being "fractious" this evening and knew I was crossing some unspoken line of madness.

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