If you were going to write 50,000 words in the space of a month, you'd need a subject (or medium, or notion) that compelled you to spew about 1,700 original words per day. I've tried this before, and got pretty close. That was, of course, at a time when I had no kids (much less two), no real job (much less a demanding one), and a far more comfortable relationship with sleep. So this seems like a good idea...
Werewolves! Werewolves! Werewolves! And Were-birds!
Working Title: Therianthropy
SYNOP-BLURB: A small group of people in New York City stumble upon a centuries-old secret society that a rogue faction of the military is trying to exploit to its own purposes. What begins as a blatant conspiracy theory at best (and a totally nuts cult at worst) gradually becomes more and more believable - and consequential.
This is the contemporary fantasy novel I ran quite far with (40K words!) last time I tried NaNoWriMo. It has a lot of words, a lot of fun research, a lot of ideas I love, and a sprawling mythology behind it. It's also rather directionless, and burdened by a dull, depthless protagonist. That's why I gave up on it all those years ago, more or less.
Pros: Most likely to result in a final product.
Cons: Quite possibly a complete waste of time and, at 40,000 words, I was not halfway through the G.D. story.
Amateur Actor, P.I.
Working Title: Open Call
SYNOP-BLURB: Getting your start as a professional actor can be tough, especially in the toughest city in the world. In trying to make it work, a young man gets a job at a private process-serving company. Before he knows it, his calling seems to be less about treading the boards and more about treading softly on a suspect's tail. What do you do when what you love and what you're best at are at odds? In a town this dirty, every choice can lead you further astray....
A quasi-comic riff on the hard-boiled detective story, this is an idea I actually outlined a couple of years back. I also have a first draft of a first chapter written. There are holes in the outline, and the first chapter-draft is a little all-over-the-place in terms of tone. But I enjoy the concept, and even the challenges of a particularly plot-driven story are at least interesting ones.
Pros: Have an outline, which means I have a sense of direction.
Cons: Not sure I'm up to something so different from what I've done before, and "interesting challenges" are not super conducive to successful word counts. Plus: Some negative feedback on concept when I've shared it with people.
Unified Fairy Tales
Working Title: The Faer Tales, or, The Spinning Wheel...
SYNOP-BLURB: Long ago, but not so far away, the world was segregated between the human folk and the faer folk. When the walls began to come down between the two, stories of strange incidence and magic burst through the seams of history. All these "fairy tales" that we now take for granted, when properly arranged, tell the story of the world exchanging hands from the faer to the humans. One faer - the last - tells us how it all goes together, to tell the story of how it all fell apart.
This is an idea that came to me while I was trying to cope with a particularly infantile book of fairy tales with which my daughter was obsessed. I thought I was just passing the mental time, but I made some notes and eventually decided this would make an awesome storytelling podcast series. If only someone would write it.
Pros: Lots of imaginative excitement, clear framework, and some pre-writing research all done.
Cons: Lots of problem-solving and additional research; not conducive to word count.
Short Stories: Love & Longing
Working Title: Take Me With You
SYNOP-BLURB: Love and grief - it seems you can't have one without the other. There's an emotion that lives with us daily, that we ignore, that we deny, that grows stronger and stronger the more it's turned aside. It's a feeling that some of us secretly enjoy, and all of us openly avoid. But where would we as a people be today...without longing?
I started a series of short stories a couple of years ago that were an attempt to process my grief over a friend who had died. I actually wrote four out of a list of about 20, all of them unconnected explorations of a feeling of unrequited-ness. Of wanting something that simply can not be. I was surprised over how many different, interesting scenarios it brought about for me.
Pros: Rich emotional territory to explore in a variety of contexts, unhindered by complex storytelling.
Cons: Starting over, again and again and again. Plus, hard to dig in emotionally, and not a novel.
A Love Story
Working Title: NONE
SYNOP-BLURB: You know what I love? Love.
Well, I do. And a love story is one of my strengths in terms of storytelling, generally speaking. And it might cure some ails right now. Marriage and family is a very different kind of love, and there's nothing like it and I would never replace it. But when our kids get a little older, I do want to get back to just who this person is with whom I'm living and working, and in the meantime it might be interesting to explore that phase of life that got us all this new love stuff.
Pros: Open possibilities, familiar framework.
Cons: Starting from scratch, and maybe being a little bold with the vulnerability.
Something Weepy and People-y
Working Title: NONE
SYNOP-BLURB: People, you know? People with people, about people, in this world peopled by persons.
I won't call this a straight-up grown-up novel. Buuuut.... That is more interesting to me as I get older, and it does have appeal from a practical standpoint. It wouldn't have to be sad (but they always are, somehow) and it wouldn't have to be serious - just honest. I like unique humans. A lot of them live in my head, and could be a good jumping-off point for a good, long, ensemble story.
Pros: Freedom, accessibility, character-driven storytelling.
Cons: Very few explosions; possibly none. High potential for "low-stakes" or "inconsequential" result.
Working Title: I'm liking World Peopled by Persons: The Novel
SYNOP-BLURB: In a world, where writing only has value if it's literature, and/or has something confusing with which to grapple...one man...eh: I got nuthin'.
Somebody said to me not too long ago, "I like your writing, but I don't understand why it so rarely expresses your sense of humor." And it stuck with me, and I've wondered about it. I don't care to write like most of the humorous novelists I've enjoyed, but maybe there's some untapped territory here for me.
Cons: No conceit, no outline, no idea how my humor translates to the written word outside of email exchanges (Ed.: I'll never, ever write an epistolary novel in an email format.)
Sump'in I Don't Know
Working Title: What the Hell?/!
SYNOP-BLURB: Sometimes your brain needs to tell you what it needs to do, and you need to listen.
Just go for it, dude.
Pros: It gets gone for.