Hello everyone and welcome to the second day of Camp NaNoWriMo. After day one I stand at 2099 words. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that, after a lengthy brainstorming session at lunch today, everything I’ve written so far will not be included in the final draft.
I know, it hurt me too although I’m glad it happened this early on. But when it doesn’t work it doesn’t work. It would have been a harder slog this month if I was pushing through a world that just wasn’t working.
(Before I carry on let me be clear that the following CampNaNoWriMo blog posts will contain some material that can be considered ‘SPOILER’. Please understand that a lot can change before the finished piece so some of what is discussed will become irrelevant)
This involved the protagonist (Julie Barrett) locking herself in the bathroom to escape her abusive boyfriend (Craig Walton). There was a brief recollect of the moments before but then it was over and only 304 words on the page. It was rushed and I knew I’d not done it right. It is important to me that I get the domestic abuse right as I don’t want to offend real people who go through this experience.
This was introduction of the villain. He shows up at a tattoo parlour in Hamburg asking for a man named Michael. At first the man who owns the shop is oblivious to the threat posed by the stranger but it isn’t long before things turn ugly. The stranger uses a power to murder the old man once he gets the information he was after, namely Michael’s current whereabouts and then leaves.
So I sat down today and thought, as I was without my laptop, I would look at some more scenes further on in case there was any foreshadowing I needed to do.
I started making a list of things:
- I divided the prologue up and thought about using it to split the story into thirds, each part foreshadowing the upcoming arc.
- I also played with the idea of switching Craig from abusive boyfriend to abusive father/stepfather but decided against this.
- I looked at the friendship between Julie and Eleanor and worked on a way to make it interesting (which I think is awesome and I don’t want to spoil it here).
- I then wanted to look at how the tattoos would work for each person who had one.
And that’s when I realised that the magic system, based on the powers obtained through these tattoo’s, didn’t work properly. Julie’s tattoo is fine. It works well with its limitations and also mirrors her predicament. As you might deduce from the title of the novella I’m writing, tattoos are important to the story so I need to get the way they work done right.
Unfortunately the villains tattoo just didn’t make sense even with his motive of revenge. I had originally planned on making him powerless (that’s without powers as opposed to weak). Yet when writing the scene I lost my way a little and ended up with two ways to end the scene. I think I chose poorly and then found myself stuck in a corner where only a power would finish the scene so I gave him one.
That’s when I realised I had merged this villain with another I had in mind at an earlier stage of the planning but had decided not to use.
I hope you’re keeping up.
TOO MANY VILLIANS
At this point I had a decision to make. Now I don’t want this to end up like Spiderman 3 with too many villains spoiling the broth but I was starting to build a bigger picture.
To begin with we have Craig the arsehole boyfriend who Julie is trapped in a relationship with, partly out of fear and partly out of pity. She knows she shouldn’t accept the violence but she has trouble letting go of the early days of their relationship. She knows Craig can be different and finds excuses for his temper. Sometimes she even blames herself.
But at some point she has to face up to him. He is her first hurdle. If she can’t leave him then she won’t be able to go out into the world and meet all these other people.
I’m keeping the stranger from the tattoo studio and knocking him back down to powerless. He still has pretty much the same role to play through this story and I know that he will end up the main antagonist of the piece but I think I’ve made him a better character now. I want him to end up a bad guy only from the hero’s point of view. I’ve read before that the best antagonists are people doing something wrong for the right reasons; that, in their mind they are the good guy trying to accomplish something and the hero is their villain who is trying to stop them.
But what about the murder? What about the dark character that was dismissed early in the planning stage? Well he wants back in and he’s going to get a chance. It won’t be a big role but I think he will up the ante.
So I will start again now that I have a clearer picture. I don’t want every other character that turns up to have a tattoo or it will turn into some sort of superpower slug fest. This is an intimate story about a girl being given a gift that will make her life better if she uses it right. It’s about how she gets by those that oppose her. I don’t want to find myself writing the Man of Steel ending.
I think it’s going to turn out well. When I started I had a beginning and an end to get to but was left with a fuzzy middle. I guess I hoped that I would see this clearer as I got nearer, chapter by chapter. Now though, with an afternoon of thinking about it and really putting the pieces together I can see the whole story. I think I’ve padded it out a little more than the original 20,000 word plan but then anything extra is good.
As long as it works.
I mentioned that during these CampNaNoWriMo updates I would also talk about my experience with Scrivener.
So far I really like it. Despite the hiccup that was yesterday (all part of the learning experience) the programme still helped a lot with the planning stages. I love the ability to ‘cast’ my characters and I’m already chopping the order of scenes as I start again. In a Microsoft Word document I would be cutting and pasting chapters left, right and centre but with Scrivener I just drag them around and place chapters where I want. It’s still early days but no complaints so far.
Anyway, I’ve got a novel to smash up and glue back together. If you're taking part in CampNaNoWriMo this July then let me know how you're getting on in the comments.
Next week I will have eight days of writing under my belt and a lot more to talk about.
See you in seven.