Flirting with NaNoWriMo II: A Survey of New Journeys?

Last November I tackled NaNoWriMo for the second time and, that time, IT STAYED DOWN!

Which is just to say, I achieved the requisite 50,000 words by November 30, 2016. That was gratifying, but even more gratifying was that the book wasn't finished, so I kept going, and more than doubled that count. But even more gratifying than that: I wrote a novel. I achieved a life goal. Oh, and I changed myself. Maybe it was only in perception, but however profound the change (or not) it was all owed to seeing that NaNoWriMo effort through.

So, it'll be November again soon. I'm still working on "last year's book," The Spinning Wheel, and don't even know if it will ever be pushed on publishers. But ... what if I could do it again?

An invaluable step in last year's success was putting forth my major options for story concepts to pursue, and weighing the virtues semi-publicly. As I put it last year: "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." So without further hemming and/or hawing...

The Spinning Wheel Sequel
Working Title: The Dancing Harp

SYNOP-BLURB: The Folk Faer are dead; long live the Folk Faer! Centuries after their supposed self-decimation, each of the faer talents is slowly resurrected in subtle forms, beginning with a creation of the Faer of Plants named Thumbelina. These children of the ancient faer find one another and make great mischief, such that the human folk draw further and further back within their so-called "civilization." But: the ancient faer are not so much dead as variously transformed. Changed. And the Faer of Change has an idea about bringing them all back to the Old Ways...

I couldn't help but spin out a few tangents while trying to figure out what exactly The Spinning Wheel would be, and one of my favorites was the notion of using the ripples of TSW to explore folklore that has less to do with princesses and love stories. I imagine this book as heavily informed by both the more Victorian concept of fairies, and some of the not-necessarily European folklore, such as animal fables. How did my intimidating, elemental faer become the hiding, dancing pixies we think of today? And what can their more-complex involvement with human behavior show us about ourselves?

Pros: Some existing framework and pre-brainstorming, exciting possibilities in a semi-established world.
Cons: Fairy fatigue, too-familiar medium, not clear on the themes/arcs like I was for its predecessor. May just be too damn soon for me.

Something Funny
Working Title: People: The Novel

SYNOP-BLURB: In a world, where writing only has value if it's literature, and/or has something confusing with which to I got nuthin'.

"I like your writing, but I don't understand why it so rarely expresses your sense of humor." This comment from a friend spurred me to pursue the humor in my last project, which loosened things up considerably and brought me to places I hadn't imagined. Yet much of that had to be cut, once I understood the story with better clarity and needed to get out of its way. I don't care to write like most of the humorous novelists I've enjoyed, but maybe there's some more new territory here for me. Maybe making people laugh is purpose enough.

Pros: Funny! Probably pretty fun to write!
Cons: No conceit, no outline. Could be excruciating to devise, if more like clowning than farce.

Magicians of Whom We're Never Really Sure
Working Title: The Magicians

SYNOP-BLURB: Magic is real, so long as it is never proved. Three very different magicians - a Las Vegas hack, his gifted assistant, and a powerful shaman stuck in her personal purgatory - briefly cross paths before going off to solve the riddles of their respective lives. Throughout each journey, magic appears, invited and otherwise. Is it real? And if not, does that matter?

I wrote a short story a couple of years ago to which I was really partial. It was about belief, in a way that didn't feel forced or too hypothetical. It had cynical humor, it had a distinctive voice, it had heart. It only had three active characters, but I wanted to know more about them all. And I'm still thinking about it. One of my favorite books is The Satanic Verse, in part because it showed me for the first time how magical Magical Realism can be when it simply allows the reader to choose what he or she believes.

Pros: Promising start, very new material, strong characters to begin with.
Cons: Not outlined, not with clear themes/arcs, potentially unfocused.

The Maybe-Time-Travel Love Story
Working Title: His Story

SYNOP-BLURB: On the eve of his divorce and at the end of his rope, Oliver recalls a bizarre encounter from nearly a decade prior, when a strange woman showed up at his door claiming to be from their shared future. As he grapples with the collapse of the relationship that Oliver had imagined would define his future, the stranger's predictions about his life seem to be gradually fulfilling themselves. Then he meets someone new. Or has he...?

Friend Andrew had an idea (I think it was his to begin) we discussed one day at lunch that has never left my mind: What if a person showed up at your door claiming to be from your future, and you couldn't prove they weren't? This has spun me off on pondering what I think are some new ideas about how time travel might work and what it means to be conned. I have also wanted to write a love story, and enjoy both that there's a select sub-genre time-travel love-stories, and the possibilities for one in which we're never absolutely certain that time travel even exists.

Pros: Promising emotional stakes and strong themes, specific audience, interesting notion.
Cons: Very conceptual, no plot as yet, potentially extremely complex story.


SYNOP-BLURB: I ... I like plays. I've had a few in mind for quite a time. 

  • The Superhero Farce
    In which the world's superhero team is zapped while in their floating space station by a ray that strips them of all their powers, and they variously learn hard lessons about who they really are, even as the villain steadily approaches. It would play with a lot of superhero archetypes, and tie in pretty classic commedia dell'arte bits and tropes.
  • The Murder Mystery Farce 
    In which the cast of a walk-about dinner-theater murder-mystery play experience an actual murder in their midst ... and have no choice but to carry on with the play. This would be wild to pull off: each actor would play two characters - the actor-character and the character-character - and the audience would be arrayed at tables as though they were the guests at the dinner theater. Very interactive, very high energy.
  • The Intimate Play about Mystical Things
    In which a very small cast with a complex emotional story and background grapple with evidence that, yes, actually, much of what fantasy stories have entertained us with for centuries is more like a description of real life. This would incorporate very surprising (yet practical) special effects, set in a story about 2-4 people working some personal stuff out.
  • The Steampunk Pinocchio Circus-Theatre Show

So, cast a vote! Leave a comment! You may help decide the next pretend thing to which I sacrifice a year(+) of my life...!