Thursday, July 17, 2008


I'm thinking of signing up for NaNoWriMo.

The reason I'm thinking about joining is because a couple of characters in a story I'm plotting are trying to go off the reservation. At first, I thought I had a plot problem, but no, it's these people. They want to go off and do something that's going to land them in Federal prison if they get caught and I need a way to stop them.

Because they're the good guys.

Good guys aren't supposed to land in prison if a prison isn't part of the story. That's where the bad guys go when the story ends. Good guys aren't supposed to do really bad things at all unless it's against the bad guys, to stop them or in self-defense.

Everybody knows that. Yet, here are these two characters of mine who are headed straight for the pen if they don't straighten up and the bad guys haven't even made an appearance. Who's going to beat the bad guys if the good guys are in jail?

"What's that?" you say. "You're the author. You made them up. You can make them do whatever you want."

No, it isn't that simple. Sure, I created them, but as many authors can verify, some characters have a way of going off, doing their own thing, and the only thing the writer can do is watch and write down what happens.

In this case, however, these characters are trying to take off on their own at the start of the story. I've got them checking into a motel and they're planning on getting a good night's rest so they can go do something illegal tomorrow.


There are two ways to handle them. The first is for me to simply refuse to write about them until they decide to toe the line.

That method worked well with Cathy in "Personals 106," my first story since high school. She was created to be a romantic interest for the man of the story and the next thing I know, she's planning to involve him as the other man in a torrid adulterous affair.

I swear, I didn't know she was married!

There we were, figuratively duking it out. I folded my arms and simply refused to write. Eventually, Cathy decided to give up and go back to her husband, and I was able to conclude the story.

So, here I am again, refusing for the past month to let these characters do their own thing. This is where the [inter]National Novel Writing Month comes into play. I figure if they continue to refuse to let their story be plotted my way, on November 1, I'll start writing anyway.

That's the second method.

I'll let them arrive at their motel, check in, and go straight to jail if that's what they want to do. For all I'll care at that point, it'll serve them right. Hopefully, it'll purge their systems enough for them to let the bad guys do the bad things when I write the novel I intended for them.

Under NaNoWriMo rules, all I have to do is write at least 50,000 words from November 1 - 30. It could be the complete first draft for a short novel or a substantial amount for a longer one. Let's see:

50,000 words over 23 days (not 30 days because of Sundays, Thanksgiving, and an out-of-town day) = 2174 words a day.

At 40 words per minute because I'm slow, that's about 54 minutes of typing per day.

That looks do-able to me. With these characters, even if I'm not a NaNoWriMo winner, I'll win.

For those who don't finish writing the rough drafts of their novels in November, another website designated the month of December as National Novel Finishing Month. The month of March is designated as the National Novel Editing Month to give writers a rest and fresh eyes for editing their drafts.

If my troublemakers quit their shenanigans and allow me to plot the book during the next three months the way I've got it in my head, I'll be able to start writing on November 1 with plot notes in hand. If not, I can watch what becomes of them and if they land in jail for the entire month, that's what I'll write about.

Or, I could write another story I've been plotting...

As soon as I figure out from where the waitress came and what she's doing serving the woman a cold drink after her swim. I mean, I thought the man and woman were at his house. That's where I put them. The waitress, however, makes it look like a resort hotel which makes me wonder: Where are they? How did they get there? They aren't in Oklahoma, Texas, or Arizona. Is it Florida? Las Vegas? Southern California? Someplace more exotic like Hawaii or the Cote d'Azure?

As annoying as these characters can be, I gotta admit it's never a dull moment and the mental vacations are great.

No comments: