Thursday, November 5, 2009

What to Write: Part 1 – NaNoWriMo

NaNo snuck up on me this year. Between the two large projects at work that were requiring overtime, and the crazy schedule that forced my wife and I to come into work at 4:30am, I didn’t really have time to consider writing a novel. It wasn’t until I got an automated e-mail from the NaNo site that I remembered. I saw the e-mail and said, “Oh yeah, that’s coming up. Well I should think about doing it again.” And then I forgot because work drove everything from my mind.

When I had some down time I did bring it up to my wife. While most of my projects would wind down in mid October, she would still be doing follow up and would end up working from home. I didn’t want to end up with both of us needing to work in the home office at the same time. Work has to come first, and if I had to do my own NaNoWriMo in December, I would. But she assured me that we wouldn’t really be in the office at the same time and it would be great if I got back to actually writing again.

Well with that figured out, it was now Halloween. Um, Ok, so NaNo starts tomorrow – what do I write… Hello? Anyone? Any brain cell wanna chime in there?

This wasn’t writers block. This was just my brain stunned for a few hours. I knew what I had wanted to write for NaNo this year. There’s a fantasy adventure story I’ve been kicking around for over a year. Now would be a great time to power down a first draft.

There was one slight problem with this. NaNo falls in November. What have I been doing all October? Reading H.P. Lovecraft and watching horror movies. This means that I’ve got horror and supernatural fiction on the brain and in blood. I didn’t feel like writing a fantasy story. And one thing I’ve learned, if I end up forcing the writing it almost always comes out poor. Strike while the iron’s hot. So horror fiction it is.

While reading Mr. Lovecraft’s work, I was surprised how much of it has been borrowed and influenced most modern horror – and yet there are very few successful adaptations of his stories. Of course Lovecraft’s writing offers several limitations for adaptation. His style is stilted and hard to get into. His world view is bleak and unforgiving. His heroes can be very passive, hardly heroes at all. And his horror is created by generating dread, something that is very hard to do in a movie or television show.

But with the right amount of tweaking and fleshing out, you could make a solid series based on Lovecraft’s fiction. This was the kind of thing I’d been thinking about this October, how would someone create a movie series or television series based on Lovecraft’s stories. I came up with all kinds of ideas and actually got a little pumped to work on them.

Then my logical brain stepped in and said, “Hold on. Why are you doing this? Are you seriously thinking that you can create a whole television show or movie franchise idea based on Lovecraft? Seriously? Think about that for a moment.”

I did and my logical brain was right. Unless Hollywood goes through a major shift in perspective, Lovecraftian fiction is going to remain in books. Most mainstream viewers don’t want dread. They want solid scares and blood. Can’t say I blame them.

Ok, novels then, I can write Lovecraftian novels that are…

Yeah Mr. Logic stepped in again. “There are already a whole bunch of Lovecraft novels and fan fics out there. Maybe you’ve heard of the Cthulu Mythos?”

“Yeah, but this would be…”

“Different because you did it? No. It would be more of the same. And you don’t really want to waste time on more the same do you?

Logic brain wins again. I’ve fallen into this trap before. I become enamored with something and the fanboy in me starts creating what is basically fan fiction. It’s fun to write, but it isn’t satisfying in the end. What is satisfying is taking the inspiration of these works and working it through my brain and fuse it with my style and create something new. Not necessarily original, but something less than a “inspired by the works of…” type deal.

What did I end up writing? Well I’ll post part two of this blog this weekend and you can find out. Or if you want t sneak peek, head over to this website and check out the “Novel Info” tab.

As of this writing 9,088 words, or 45 pages.

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