Sunday, November 17, 2013

Catching a Glimpse of a Wild WriMo

Today and tomorrow, I'd like to share some NaNo-related entries from Luke Bellmason's blog. I'm a little late with them, but I think you'll enjoy them just as much.

In a few days I am going to be taking part in NaNoWriMo. For those that don’t know, this stands for National Novel Writing Month (though actually it’s International).
The idea is that during the month of November you have try to write a 50,000 word novel. This might sound difficult but 50,000 words in 30 days works out to about 1,666 words per day, and there is no stipulation in the rules which says the novel has to be any good.
NaNoWriMo is all about getting people writing, and the emphasis is on volume rather than quality. For writers who do lots of planning (but very little writing) this is an opportunity to change things up. Instead of editing and stressing over minor details of plot and character you just write. It’s a bit like jumping on a motorcycle, pointing it towards the sunset and heading off into the unknown.
One of the best things about it is that you’re doing it with thousands of other people and there’s a lot of support given to participants, with writing events across the whole month both online and off. The groups are also divided into regions so you can find out who’s participating in your area and maybe even go along to a write-in and meet some of them.
Everyone wants to know what you’re writing and how far along you are, and yes there’s a healthy sense of competition involved. Dare I say you even get a buzz out of beating someone who was ahead of you in word count the week before. As writers crash out and fall by the wayside, you’re determined that ‘this won’t happen to me’ and it pushes you on.
You aren’t allowed to start writing until midnight on the first of November, but you are allowed to plan your story out before this. I’ve been working on my idea for this year’s NaNo for quite some time and I’m actually really looking forward to starting work on it.
The story revolves around the first Earth expedition to an alien planet. The first wave has already been established, first contact has been made and a small colony of humans are living on the alien world.
All of the main characters are based on my favourite characters from various spy shows and books.
The theme is going to be a kind of mash-up of science fiction and spy thriller. Think John LeCarre meets Philip K Dick, or Isaac Asimov meets Ian Fleming.
The hard problems of preventing bacterial contamination and translating the alien language have already been solved by the first wave of the expedition. As the novel starts the second wave have arrived from Earth and one of the three main characters has spent the last seven or eight years travelling aboard and interstellar ship to reach the alien world.
There are three main factions on the Earth side; The Earth government who are the official representatives of all of the planets in the solar system who funded the expedition. The Corporation who provided almost all of the technology used to reach the alien system. And then there’s the UN type organisation called ELIJA, which stands for Earth League Interplanetary Joint Alliance.
Obviously there are multiple tensions between these three groups. The Corporation has been granted licences to sell various Earth technologies to the aliens, whose technological level is equal to that of Earth in about the year 1950. This means the Corp can look forward to many years of profitable technological advancement at a slow and steady pace as they drip feed everything from washing machines and refrigerators all the way through to iPods and jet packs over decades and decades. Meanwhile the Earth force is trying to establish a more permanent colony on another planet in the alien solar system which is a sort of Mars like planet that requires extensive terraforming before it can be made habitable. Then on top of all this ELIJA is ensuring that all the rules governing ethical behaviour and law is observed and neither faction exploits the Aliens.
The aliens themselves are also split into different groups. One is what you might call the pro visitors, who represent the younger generation who have grown up in the shadow of Alien visitors and to find them exciting and interesting, while on the other side are the Separatists who want the aliens to go home and leave their planet as it was.
My idea is to use all the tropes of spy fiction but in a totally new setting which is a blank canvas of my own creation allowing me to play around with hi-tech spies and the like without Earth history getting in the way of things. Which is another way of saying that I’m too lazy to do any real research on the last 200 years of global politics and making up your own global politics is more fun anyway.
I’ll be posting each day’s chapter (assuming there is one) on my blog the following day so you can all read along and see how the story develops in real time, plus you can add your own comments and ideas as we go along and I might even incorporate some of them into the story!
I did try NaNoWriMo in 2011 (with a story called vampires versus zombies) but only got as far as Day 15. So this time I’m hoping to get at least a little further if not finish the whole thing.
Please check back for more updates and watch this space on and around the 1st of November to read the first opening chapter!

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