Wednesday, November 2, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016: Day 2 - An Idea is Born

*Spoiler Alert* If you read this whole post, you will be exposed to one or two surprise endings or fictional twists.

*Wondering Thoughts Alert* I'm going to talk about how I came up with my NaNoWriMo novel idea. My thought processes tend to be meandering and long winded but I wanted to share the complete journey, expose the man behind the curtain, and dispel some magic.

You Have Been Warned!

So, there I was, only a few days 'til NaNo, and not a single idea for a novel in my head. I thought I had an idea a couple weeks before but then I realized I only dreamed that I had an idea but had no idea what the actual idea was. Welcome to my pantser life.

I have only approached NaNoWriMo as a pantser. I actually approach all my writing that way. I don't do outlines. I don't do character or location sheets. When I attempt some planning, I usually give up halfway through or toss it all out the window the second I start writing. I guess for me writing is more like an archaeological dig than home construction. Instead of starting with blueprints illustrating the bones of the story or detail sheets with name and model number of every fixture, I start with a general idea of what should be there and where I'm going, then uncover the shape and details as I write. But, at the very least, I need that idea. So, I was a little worried when I still had nothing and less than a week until Day 1. Then, like most of my nanos, an idea came to me in sleep.

The Last Stand, Zombie Zorority, and several of my short stories have been ripped straight from my dreams, as it were, but Write What You Know , my 2016 NaNoWriMo, came from those random, swirly thoughts I have while I'm drifting towards dream-land, when I'm not quite asleep but also not quite awake.

The word inkling kept floating around my mind. Some part of me thought it was related to whatever the original idea was that I'd forgotten/dreamed but as much as I kept repeating the word to jog my memory it remained firmly unmoved. So, I tried to figure out what kind of creature an inkling would be, since it sort of sounded like a monster. I imagined it was like a pesky little word fairy the came alive from the ink on a typewritten page. The more I thought about the more I liked it but I could think of what kind of story would go with that. At least not a novel length one.

Instead, I thought about what it would be like if a character I was writing came to life. Immediately, I thought of Chrystal from Consumption Divine, because she's the character who's been with me the longest, and imagined what it would be like if the murdering vampire seductress I created came to life and what sort of things she might say or think of me. I sort of thought it would be pretty scary, I don't think she would like me and she has tendency to rip apart anything she doesn't like with teeth and bare hands. Still, I thought, what would it be like, maybe with a slightly different vampire and a slightly different author.

Next, a bunch of things rushed to my mind, or rushed as much as thoughts can when you're hair's breadth away from sleep. I remembered "Umney's Last Case" from Stephen King's Nightmares and Dreamscapes.

I love books that are so well read the edges are flocked and the pages can barely stay in. That's a very loved book.
"Umney's Last Case" is a short story wherein Clyde Umney, a steretypical 30's style shamus, finds his world flipped upside down when he meets his creator, author Samuel Landry. Samuel, after a series of tragedies, decided he wanted to live in the world of his creation rather than modern reality. He manages to write himself into his own fictional realm and character and author switch places.

Also, I was reminded a little of "Word Processor of the Gods", also by Stephen King, from Skeleton Crew. In that there is magical computer that has the power to make whatever is inputted a reality and erase from the world whatever's deleted.

Naturally, Stranger than Fiction was tossed into the inspiration mix. The film features Will Ferrel playing Harold Crick, man who suddenly finds himself a main character in author  Karen Eiffel's book. Played by Emma Thompson, Karen Eiffel only writes tragedies where all her characters die at the end. Did Harold exist before she created him? How many other real people has she killed? Why was she always killing them anyway? How would Death and Taxes end now that she's met her character, real man and not a figment of her imagination?

Finally, the tv show Castle floated to the surface of my mind. It's slightly different but in a similar vein. While the show can't seem to decide if Castle writes thrillers or horror or both, his current books are inspired by 'real-life' NYPD detective Kathryn Beckett, who he shadows on the job after they meet when a serial killer uses his previous books as inspiration for a sadistic murder spree. There are several episodes where fans, friends, and murderers blur the lines between Nikki Heat, Beckett's fictional counterpart and Jameson Rook, the fictional version of Richard Castle with their real relationship. Like my other inspirations, this fiction within a fiction plays around with the concept of art vs. reality and person vs. character.

At this point you may have forgotten that I was thinking of all of this while falling asleep. Like seriously practically asleep. To the point where I said to myself "Boy, this is really getting my gears going, I should totally write this down when I wake up because I'm too asleep to write now."

With a shocking suddenness, I dragged myself kicking and screaming to full consciousness because I still had an inkling that I had thought something similar a couple weeks before and it, whatever that idea was, became only a dream that once I had an idea and I would not let that happen again. This story idea was too juicy to let slip away.

So, I woke up, opened up Evernote on my cell. Made up a couple of names and fictional book titles and quickly wrote a synopsis. The opening scene popped into my head practically simultaneously, so I wrote a brief sketch of that since NaNoWriMo was still a few days away and I couldn't officially write the full on scene yet. I sent a tweet and a text message in celebration, then spent the rest of the day exhausted because I couldn't go back to sleep.

Christa Fields, an author, famous/celebrated for her  vampire novel N'Raged (N'Sanity, N'Love, poss other book titled) starts acting strange, out of character, in fact, she's acting like Nikki Vampyro, the main character from her novels.  Has Nikki come to life or has Christa actually lost her mind? And just as bloody Jack the Ripper style murders are happening across the city, Christa goes missing.  Who will they find when they track her down and how much blood will she have on her hands?

Voila! There's my synopsis, sputtered out around 10 am on October 28th and all the midmorning sleepy thoughts that lead to it. There was no angel or devil whispering in my ear. A character didn't appear fully formed and demand its story be told. Instead, it was a mashup of a character I'd already written with a daydream version of myself and some generous sprinklings of half ideas I'd gathered from multiple other sources fuzzily remembered on my way to sleep.

Other times it's a dream. Sometimes I get ideas on a walk or doing laundry. Any time my mind wanders from what I should be doing. I got some much writing done in school when I should have been taking notes. For me, Agatha Christie sums it up perfectly.

Are you planner or pantser? How do your ideas come to you?

Hope your all your nanos are going well and your stacking word upon word. It's time for me to get back to mine. See you tomorrow!