I have, for the past 21 years, participated in an activity known as National Novel Writing Month. The concept is simple: over the thirty days of November, poop out 50,000 words that is in some way justifiable as a story.
Most years, I walk into the adventure with an idea in mind. That idea is almost universally a setting; I have a great place for a story, and all I need is an actual story. The towers of Miami rising up from the sea. A planet habitable only at the poles.
This time, I kicked off with a scene I shared here, and the setting is interesting, but the story jumped out, and the story is vast. And as I wrote, it just kept getting vaster. Structure emerged, as milestones marked by the good guys become dominoes to be knocked down later by the bad guys.
Good guys? The sweetest part of the story was that Tommy, a kid you’d probably like if you met him in a bar, decays. He is at some level aware of the compromises he is making, but he lets them happen anyway. This character arc is inspired by George Alec Effinger’s brilliant and unfinished series. (I’d like to think, at least, that it was unfinished.)
Fifty thousand in, I felt like this was just getting rolling. I had set the second milestone (there must be at least four) and the world is only just beginning to think of Tommy as a spiritual leader, and Tommy himself is still far from understanding that. The story is still in the foothills of the rise, and the fall that follows has to be painful.
And Gamma: What’s its game?
What is in my head is absolutely something I’d love to read. Seems I’m going to have to write it first.
But I have another project to finish first. Can’t just change direction every November for the new sexiness. It’s not a chore to have to go back to Munchies. It’s a goddam privilege.