Gearing Up for NaNoWriMo

As some of you may have noticed, a new section appeared recently on the site: Young Adult. Inside this nondescript cocoon is a tiny little idea-caterpillar called (appropriately enough) AWAKE MY SOUL. This will be my NaNoWriMo project.

I don’t normally write for the young adult market, so this is going to be something new for me. I also don’t write sci-fi, I don’t like playing with politics and, with the exception of my last manuscript, I try to edge around religion. The two protagonists of this new work though, took me by surprise. They held me hostage and just wouldn’t let me go until I’d promised to tell their story. And, what a story! The little blurb I put in the new section doesn’t even begin to cover the ambition with which I’m approaching this project. There are consequences and actions that I truly believe will challenge me as a writer. And, really, that’s the whole point.

The characters of Ensign and Ember began as writing challenges. I was having character building issues with my last manuscript, so I stepped away for a bit and created wholly independent characters and made them as complex and detailed as I could.

For Ember, I decided to take a sci-fi route, since I’d never done anything like it before. I stole my husband’s copy of the Serenity RPG, read it cover to cover because I hadn’t played since college, and began with a mock-up character sheet for Ember. From there, I expanded it into a multi-page biography, which then began to tell its own story.

When it came to Ensign, I wanted to start from a different angle. I started with a background mini-story inspired by a song (The Myriad ~ Get On the Plane) and tried to evolve the perfect character to fit it. How would such a setting shape a 17-year-old boy? How would certain challenges growing up determine how he reacts to future situations? As he evolved, though, something unexpected happened.

My stories merged.

They were just creativity experiments. There were never supposed to leave the confines of my sparkly, pink “Keep Calm and Have a Cocktail” notebook. But, there they were, clamoring to be heard. Wanting to meet. Begging for resolution. So, here we are, lurching ever toward November 1st. Somehow over the last month I’m managed to write nearly 3,000 words of synopsis and history stretching over 100 years. I’ve scribbled maps, detailed outlines, and polished my experimental characters into living beings. I’m so excited that it’s taking all I have not to start NOW.

Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month?