NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month is an ongoing initiative every November with huge community and support. The idea is to have written 50,000 of a novel draft in 30 days. It’s not something I ever thought I’d do but realised it’s the daily writing habit and not the word count that matters. To that end, I decided to write the novella that’s rattling around in my head. I’ve got characters, plot, timeline, internal and external conflict… everything needed. Only, last night, 31st October, I decided to jettison it all because I’d totally overthought it, realised a side character had more of a role to play and I didn’t have time to untangle what was in my head and ready to go.
I’m not a plotter by nature so this sudden change was too much to work with. And, one of my big issues as a writer is that I write short form. I have ideas for longer pieces of work but they stay in my head because I don’t know I’m capable of writing them.
But equally, I want to participate in NaNoWriMo. About a month ago, I looked for some solo RPGs (role playing games. You know, the geeky ones with dice…) and came across The Adventurer, written by James Chip. It uses a pack (or two) of playing cards and is a journalling adventure, the cards giving prompts for locations and objects. The rest is up to the player. It really appealed and last night, as I stared into the 3am void, a sapphic, witchy, sword-swinging plot started to form, based on the games’ introduction.
Today, it took form.
I opened a new document in Scrivener called “Epic Fantasy Adventure Winging It Challenge” and in the draft section automatically created, made “day one.” My idea is to write 25 chapters of an overall plot, using the prompts the RPG game gives me as I work towards my known plot finish.
It was an easy start: I used the ideas I’d come up with last night and the prompt in the game and started writing. Only, then, a new character popped up. He was supposed to be a side-character, a Mary-Sue, a device. Only he had other ideas and now, I have a sub plot. More motivation and more why. It’s exciting but frightening as short fiction doesn’t give me this.
I’ll be updating my Twitter account with word counts, or you can keep track of my overall progress by clicking this link.
I’m also on the NaNoWriMo website as autoerraticism, so come say “hi!”.
And what makes this extra special is that I’ve cleared a desk especially for this project. It was my grandfather’s desk and whilst he didn’t read much fiction, he’d be proud of me being a writer. The two packs of playing cards? They were my grandmother’s. I remember her and her sister playing card games for hours, bickering, using half matchsticks as stakes. I don’t know whether they’re the exact same decks, but it’s a good feeling to use cards that belonged to one of the women who empowered me through the use of words.