Doing an Nanowrimo in the summer has sort of stolen my brain this month as far as blogging goes. It seems these ideas come from the same place, no matter what I’m writing. So, I’ve decided to compromise and blog about the novel, despite most advice I’ve read suggesting that you don’t discuss your works in progress—apparently you’re less likely to finish things if you spend time talking about them to others (no wonder I never get anything done). But considering Nano is going surprisingly well, I’m going to risk it.
Anyway, I’ve tried to write this story as a short story, then as a novella several times, but always got stuck after just a few paragraphs. It had a great set-up, but I wasn’t sure where it went. Generally when I get ideas I consider them complete and ready to start poking when I have a beginning, end, main character, and a sense of the main character’s arc. The trouble was, with “A Recipe for Disaster” the plot wasn’t about the main character, really, or not the set-up I had started with. I knew where the young villain Cal started, finished, and what his character arc was, but what about the title disaster? It happened to other people, people I didn’t know… nor was I sure what happened to them.
So, the months kept passing with it not getting written and I realized I was going to have to do something about it, or it wasn’t going to happen. I figured if what I wanted was a 25,000 word novella, surely writing 50,000 words of mess, plotting, planning, and different possibilities of what the story might be would be more than enough words to get it done, right? And I could always stop early if I actually, but some miracle got the story done before the end of the month. Despite all this logic, I wasn’t sure this would work. Yet, under pressure, I was determined to find a way to plan and write the story.
On my walks I’ve been taking in the morning, I’ve discovered it’s the perfect time to plot a bit, ruminate on random possibilities for the story. I used to walk in the afternoon, but it’s hotter and I’m a good deal more tired, and so I wouldn’t get any ideas. Switching to first thing in the morning made a huge difference. I imagining different possibilities about who Bueford and the unnamed princess of Seaward might be. I had a lot of false starts, and originally called the princess Mistella, but switched it after a bit of rearranging to Jinella. Bueford went from crafty to rather pathetic, and an actual villain (although he thinks of himself as a hero) showed up: Mullog (the reasons the princess got a different letter at the beginning of her name).
Still, I needed something extra to boost thing, create some excitement. Now my good friend Jeff used to keep a rat when I was in college. Her name was Agnes and I discovered from visiting him every week to practice for our church music group, that rats make rather delightful pets. They have an unfortunate reputation and are always the villains in Brian Jacques’s well-know Redwall series, so it seemed natural and fun to give my young villain a pet rat.
Then, my sister Juliana was in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” recently and I had enjoyed the play. I found that instead of my novel going through my head while walking (the kids did a terrific job of the play), and suddenly, the full disastrous nature of the disaster hit me: Prince Bueford was going to end up with a rat head. From there it was an easy jump to think that perhaps Cal’s pet rat would switch forms with the prince and look like a human, and add some needed tension into Cal’s disastrous date with a love triangle… and to my surprise, my plot was working itself out.
Shakespeare is always awesome.
Of course I can’t always be writing, I’m supposed to keep up the yard of our rental. Well, this morning I found something rather disturbing. They just might be in the lily family, but they also might be alien invaders from a strange planet. I’m not sure exactly what these things are, but boy are they creepy. And someone thought they’d look good and actually planted them? My mind is a bit boggled.
Hopefully they will not transform into deadly pods and kill me in my sleep.