Sunday, November 3, 2013

It Only Took 20,000 Words

NaNoWriMo started on the first. If you don't know what NaNoWriMo is, you should check it out. So, of course, in my stubborn determination, I shot for 20,000 words on day one. (And yay for me, I hit my goal!)

It was a good practice run.

See, a lot of people say to "test drive your characters" by throwing them into scenarios and learning how they act and react. That way when you get to your actual story, you'll have a full grasp of your characters within the plotline that you've created.

You see, I didn't have a real story yet when I started my 20k word run. And I hadn't test driven my characters yet. So I guess there's nothing like a 20,000 word test drive in a story you think is the one they should be in to learn what story your characters want to be in. That's right. This is the story of how my dramatic, dark, epic fantasy novel became a sassy, ridiculously over-the-top, urban fantasy novel.

I had two characters. Just two. An amnesiac girl with a dragon in her head and a skeleton mage with an overly strong sense of justice. It was a quest story, with a magic artifact as the goal and everything. They had to defend themselves from deities that were trying to stop them. They walked, and walked, and did more walking. And there was this great big twist at the end and all that jazz. I thought it was gonna turn out wonderfully.

Except I soon realized that I didn't have enough material to do what I thought I wanted to. My epic fantasy novel was slowly becoming a novella (or something). And the characters felt wrong in their environment. I scrounged the NaNo forums and my region's members' brains for a subplot, or for a way to extend the story out. But to no avail. So I thought.

I thought, "How can I make these characters and this story more interesting?"

It took an entire day (an entire day in which I attained no new wordcount), but I finally found the answer I was looking for. And all it took was a slight (okay, maybe not slight) shift in genre. I turned the story on its head, modified a character, added a new character, switched the perspective, and modernized my setting. And somehow, it works now. It only took 20,000 words (pfff, only), but I finally have the story where it should be.

Now all I have to do is catch back up to where I was. Easier said than done, but who said NaNoWriMo was easy, eh?