It’s that time of year again: when I pretend writing every day for 30 days straight to finish a novel in a month is a realistic goal. When I am forced to remember just how hard it is to create consistent but complex characters, powerful and not (too) predictable plots, spellbindingly special settings.
Or you could just call it Camp NaNoWriMo (April edition).
My Camp NaNo Project
Through careful consideration
and definitely not just the 8ball function of a Discord writing bot, I have decided to start fresh with an as-yet-untitled New Adult urban fantasy novel. Both of which are totally unfamiliar territory for me, so that’s really exciting.
I haven’t decided yet if I want to try a retelling; I’ve been reading a lot of them lately and I find the genre (?) delightful, but I’m certainly underprepared. I kind of also want to write about Faerie courts, because I’ve been reading a lot about them too, but again I haven’t done much research and I’m not totally sure how I’d make it my own.
The only major details I’ve decided are that the main protagonist is named Olivia and the main setting is San Francisco with possibly a few scenes in New York City, but those are subject to change as I figure this thing out.
Oh, and Olivia is a bisexual Asian-American girl. Because representation matters; it shouldn’t be this hard to find characters like me in literature. (The hardest thing will probably be making sure she’s not a self-insert.)
If you think it sounds like I have very little idea of what I’m doing, you’re probably right. Honestly, I’ve been procrastinating figuring out the details and will most likely be making up most of it as I go.
How I’m Preparing
In the past I’ve had a tendency to go overboard developing characters, magic systems, and plots, and what-have-you to the point of burning out before I’ve finished writing the exposition, so this time I’m returning to my storytelling roots and pantsing the heck out of this novel.
While one of my main characters has a first name and the beginnings of a personality, I’m planning on at least two or three other lead characters who don’t yet have names or any kind of identity. As a fanfiction writer, I give high importance to characterization, so it’s probably the first thing I’ll need to hammer out. (Ideally this weekend, but we’ll see.)
Most likely I’ll be coming up with some kind of character sheets to keep track of everything, because I hate contradicting myself even in first drafts. If I mention in passing that a character prefers dogs to cats, even if it’s totally irrelevant to anything, it becomes canon unless the plot necessitates them being a cat person. Usually I do some preliminary work — basic facts like name, gender and sexual/romantic orientation, general DnD alignment/MBTI type if I feel like it — then add on as I get to know them through the story.
Setting-wise, SF is my nearest big city so this story is quite literally set closer to home than my usual. There’ll probably still be some research involved since I’m not actually from SF, just close to it, but I have a pretty good foundational understanding of things like its geography, climate, and culture.
And the plot? I have a few ideas, but mostly I plan to just see where the characters take me. The stories I’ve written more recently generally revolve around storylines that caught my interest, so again, I’m switching my focus to the characters this time.
So if I don’t have much to share yet, why am I writing this post? It’s a question I posed to myself when I put it on my post calendar, and I’m sure I’ll ask it again before I hit “schedule.”
I subscribe to the “multiple interpretations are valid” theory, so here’s a few possible explanations. You can pick which you like the best, and hopefully they’ll serve as a reminder to me as well, when things inevitably get rough.
- This post is a public commitment to give my best effort to Camp NaNo.
- This post reminds me how much I love the inspirational/motivational boost that comes with Camp NaNo, and to make the most of it.
- This post reminds me how much work I have left to prepare for Camp NaNo.
- This post reminds me how soon Camp NaNo will be starting.
- This post reminds me that I love writing and storytelling, in any form, and that they never go totally as planned.
- Have you done Camp NaNo (or regular November NaNo) in the past? Are you participating next month?
- Are you a plotter or a pantser or a “plantser”?