Sunday, 9 October 2011

Have I missed something?


Browsing the NaNoWriMo forums (it's not procrastinating, honest), I discovered the thread where everyone describes what they're planning to write about this year.  Excited, I trawled through the many entries, anticipating that harsh feeling of "Oh no!  Theirs sound amazing compared to mines".  All the posts sounded so confident; raring to go.  My inevitable unease ensued.

It's not self-torture.  It keeps me sharp.  It forces me to improve my own description of my story.  A story which, as of yet, has failed to maintain its direction.  That sounds pessimistic, but it's genuinely not.  It's only because some of my characters have decided to become infinitely more interesting than my original main character.  Surely not a bad thing, but requires a lot of restructuring.  I have to laugh at my earlier fears of starting too early.  I should have started my planning for this Novel months ago.

I'm glad I figured all this out now, instead of two weeks into November, I tell ye.

I noticed the plethora of fantasy/other world-esque stories being described.  At the time of browsing, that genre appeared to take up about 90% of the posts.  I've never really ventured that side of fiction before and, seeing how immensley popular it is, can't help but feel I'm missing something.  What I'm about to tell you next will shock and horrify you...

... I've never read a Harry Potter book.  Or The Lord of the Rings.




Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike the idea of reading them.  They scare me, if I'm honest with you.  I see how obsessed people get with them, and I don't want to be consumed that way.

I've read enough articles and interviews with J.K. Rowling to understand that she is an exceptional writer.  And I like reading the work of exceptional writers.  I'd quite fancy being an exceptional writer myself one day, as I'm sure every writer does.  I can't imagine anyone with a passion for their work, thinking "I'd quite like to be a decidedly average writer one day."

Maybe if I'd read the books, I'd be amongst the crowd of fantasy writers.  Alas, my book will concern unexceptional human beings and the banalities of life. 

Life.  Hideously unfair life.  Beautiful, joyful life.  At times tragic beyond comprehension.  Other times euphoric and filled with a love powerful enough to offer solace against the frequent anguish and misery.

I'm quite alright with writing about that.  Real-life fiction.  How paradoxical.  I know I'm not alone though.  I just looked it up and it appears to be an established genre.

I've made a conscious decision to read the Harry Potter and The Lord of the Ring books, one day.  Not until I've finished this book, though, lest the fantasy suck me into its addictive grip and spurt me back out as a fantasy writer forevermore. 

In the meantime, I shall gleam the planning wisdom from J.K. Rowling and go with that.  I refer to the alleged Plot Spreadsheet I found for "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix". 




Anyone who knows how geeky I am will understand how breathless with excitement this diagram made me.  I printed it out in A3 and currently have it spread out on my dining room table. 

I'm sure if I'd read the book, I'd have a much better idea of how everything slots in together.  But thats the thing.  I don't need to have read the book to see where the arcs and subplots come into it.  I believe the art of planning a book transcends genre; it's universal.

From this, I want to understand how much activity there is in a book and set myself a precedent.  Not unlike the precedent I set myself when browsing the forums.  Some may scoff at this, and say "are you seriously trying to compare your efforts to that of J.K. Rowling?"

Why the hell not? 

So that will be my plans for this dreary Sunday.  How are you all getting on, NaNo-ers? 







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8 comments:

thiscuriousuniverse said...

I think you're doing great with your research. I too am far behind but I've been on vacation for the last 10 days so my mind is elsewhere. Research and preparation are fantastic, but don't think too much. Remember when you write it's going to flow naturally! Manifest your novel!

Antje said...

Hey Catherine,

HP is actually a really, really good story, but it won't take over your life. I hope. Except the times you find yourself whispering one of the spells, realize what you're doing, look around guiltily to check if someone noticed and then be disappointed that the spell didn't work. Apart from that, you'll be fine. Seriously. :)

I'm gonna try to survive NaNo this year for the first time, and I have an idea, and yes, it has fantasy elements. Very light ones. And I think every story is cool as long as it's well-told, no matter in which world you place it. Good luck with planning! I'm in the middle of fighting with 'the plan'.

Amelia said...

Hey there!

Nothing wrong with borrowing writing habits from great writers, seems like a good idea to me!

Just FYI--your link on the NaNo Blog Chain is borked. It looks like you have two https in there. I'm going to delete it so you can add a corrected version :)

Daniel Swensen said...

I've never read the HP books either, nor do I have any current plans to. I do like Rowling's story planning sheet a lot, though, it's delightfully scruffy.

ayeshazahid said...

I love the way you write, though. I've got to have read every Potter book at least five times, but books are books -- and in the end, it's always going to be about what you write. Good luck with this year's NaNoWriMo! : )

nowondiversion said...

Want to know a secret? I've never read Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings either and the majority of what I write is fantasy :-)

I LOVE Tommy Lee Jones. Actually, his character in Lonesome Dove has influenced one of the characters in my nano novel!

Catherine Noble said...

@thiscuriousuniverse – Thanks for you encouragement; it means a lot! :) I hope you had a wonderful vacation and I'm sure you'll catch up in no time!

@Antje – See... this is what I'm talking about! Haha :) Oooh I love “The Plan”, I just love the excitement of a new project, don't you?! I'm in my element here :) Good luck with NaNo, I'll be sure to follow your progress!

@Amelia – Thank you for letting me know, I've fixed it now (I hope!). It seems like a good idea to me too – if you can develop good writing habits, you've won half the battle, I say! :)

@Daniel – I'm comforted by finding another HP book virgin. The planning sheet is fabulous, isn't it? You never know... it might be one of our own scruffy planning sheets going viral on the net one day, when we're famous authors ;)

@ayeshazahid – Thank you so much for your kind words; I was delighted to see your tweets about my blog :) Good luck to you too!

@nowondiversion – Another one! We should form a support group: The Uninitiated! :) Oooh I like that you've gleamed character inspiration from a movie – I might have to watch lots of movies now... for “research” ;) Best of luck with your Nano!

wordsurfer said...

I sure love new projects. Sticking with them is the harder part. That's why I have "committed" myself to NaNo by talking about it to all my friends and family members without ceasing. That way I'll really loose face if I don't see it through. ;)

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