Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NaNoWriMo Looms Nigh!

For any who might not know yet, November is National Novel Writing Month. This year, I am at a cross-purposes, because I have no less than three ideas for what I want my book to be about. But I sure as Hell won't be writing 150,000 words next month, so I can't win at all three. Bearing that in mind, I wanted to see what you, the General Reader, thinks of the following three ideas.

1. The Quantum Mechanic: A superhero story of ethic contortions. The first person to truly understand quantum mechanics finds himself at the command of an incredible new power: the ability to manipulate reality at the quantum level on a whim. Able to go anywhere, be everywhere, and do anything, Frank Calhoun quickly finds himself shoved to the front of the world stage and faced with a truly unique ultimatum: take on the role of a god he has never believed in, or watch the world fall apart due to his refusal to accept such responsibility. Philosophers, pundits, tyrants and citizens alike compete for the attention of the Quantum Mechanic as he tries to balance the world upon his finger.

2. Thirty Seconds: Intelligent design in an unintelligent Universe. I was inspired by someone on the History Channel's The Universe, who said in one episode that by observing the entire Earth for only thirty seconds, an observer from another planet could probably piece together the human life cycle and a good deal about our technology and culture. I had originally conceived this as short fiction with no dialogue (only narration), but that gets dry after a while, so I was thinking of injecting some characters and explaining the scientific method through their analysis of the thirty seconds of observation, as more and more tidbits are discovered from thirty seconds of planetary observation. Oh, and the observation is of another planet where life actually is intelligently designed.
EDIT: I've changed my mind about this. I'm doing it as short fiction, no matter what. I'm too passionate about my other two ideas to let them take a back-seat to this.

3. Breath to Breath: The philosopher's zombie apocalypse novel. I finally got around to retroactively posting the last of Rendezvous today. I don't really like where it ended, mainly because I increasingly felt shoe-horned into it by the whole inexorability of it all (I planned the book around the ending, and now I don't think that it fits very well with the rest of the story), plus I learned quite a bit about writing and did some pretty egregious author insertion (because it's "me and my friends survive a zombie attack, the book" - duh!). Well, I have a way better idea for a zombie story now, which is pretty much going to require redoing everything, which I'm OK with. I mean, it's practically a new book, so I intend to treat it as such.

So yeah, what do y'all think? This is probably most of what I'm going to do for November, so voice your choice!


Michael said...

Gotta love a good philosophical zombie novel! My vote's in.

Also to continue the trend of dropping in links to lesswrong.com, there's a classic bit of zombie fiction that parodies the nonsense of it all:

Zach L said...

I enjoyed your Zombie novel a lot when you were posting it. I would not be upset if you were to do it over.

That being said, "The Quantum Mechanic" sounds fucking cool. It's Doc Manhattan meets Ex Machina. That's my vote.

D said...

Thanks for the input, you two! Everyone else, the vote is tied with only 75% of my readership left to go!

MS Quixote said...


I'm currently writing a novel with zombies that has a theological bent, so the more the merrier; however, my vote's for the QM. Great premise, I think, although you run the risk of only attracting sci-fi types :)


D said...

Thanks for the vote, Quixote! As for TQM, it's not just sci-fi, it's also superhero pulp and some rather serious applied ethics (as I hope the subtitle indicates).

Man... now I wonder if I can crank out 100K words in 30 days... that's only like 3,333 words per day, right guys?

Michael said...

It's 50K words not 100K!

D said...

I know, but I'm considering doing both.

MS Quixote said...

"Man... now I wonder if I can crank out 100K words in 30 days... that's only like 3,333 words per day, right guys?"

Uh, given your blog output, I wouldn't bet against you...

But, if you're seriously considering authoring, why don't you set a more reasonable pace/goal without reference to the challenge? You'll discover the experience is much more rewarding and worthwhile that way, not to mention your novel will be better. I know, advice given where it's not requested. Treat accordingly :)

"it's also superhero pulp and some rather serious applied ethics (as I hope the subtitle indicates)."

It does so indicate, and I'd read it, especially with the applied ethics, but we're not exactly normal, now are we :) And don't read that as discouragement, far from it. Full speed ahead (well, not the full speed you're imagining, but you know what I mean), I say...it's an intriguing premise.

Michael said...

Both? Someone's masochistic! That's a hard one -- if you miss a day (and it's a fair assumption that at least one day will be missed), that's 6600ish words due on the next day...

Of course I could just be saying this to egg you on.

Zach L said...

MS Quixote: If you're seriously considering authoring, forcing yourself to work within the limitations of the timeline is the absolute best thing you can do for yourself.

Timelines, milestones, and forcing yourself to work within specified limits are good ways to build discipline and focus. If you remove those limitations then it's more likely than not that failure will be the only outcome.

Every single person I've talked to that has said "I'm not worried about the deadline, I'll just go at my own pace and finish when I'm done" has never, ever finished.

The point of NaNoWriMo isn't the writing, it's the word count and the deadline.

D said...

I'm siding with Z on this one, as all of my anecdotal experiences more or less back up his point. Also, in point of fact, quantity qua quantity is the explicit stated goal of NaNoWriMo - I could write "all work and no play makes D a dull cog" over and over and still win - I would just also feel dirty for doing so. I first tried NaNoWriMo in 2005 and failed - I didn't stick to a plan, I didn't set incremental goals, and I didn't know where the plot was going, so it didn't work out too well because I hit a block and had no way to proceed forward. In 2006, I didn't try, but in 2007 I won with Rendezvous (though it had no such name at the time). Last year, I tried writing Axe of the Apostles: The Bible X-TREME!, but it was too research-intensive by far for a thirty day first draft. In hindsight, what I should have done was to outline the plot and write what I could, then after I cranked out the first 50K, go back and shoehorn it into fitting other parts of the Bible.

Anyway, it is the case for both Breath to Breath and The Quantum Mechanic that I have a clear idea of where the story starts and ends, as well as many interesting places for the story to go in the middle, and a few "puzzles" for me to work out as well (I often fancy that well-conceived stories write themselves, and the author's only task is to avoid dead-ends and plot holes). I can't say the same for Thirty Seconds, which is why it's out of the running.

But I appreciate the vote of confidence, Quixote! Ultimately, I can't write both because I also want to maintain the "non-novel" part of this blog, but maybe I'll write the losing contestant during December if enough people still want to read by then.

MS Quixote said...

Hey Zach,

Not sensing the disagreement you seem to here. What I suggested was a reasonable pace/goal, rather than the breakneck speed of the NaNoWriMo. Of course, if it's the challenge you're after, then get after it.

Otherwise, I'm interested. It seems I've stumbled unknowingly into a nest of fellow authors here. What are you guys up to?

"I often fancy that well-conceived stories write themselves, and the author's only task is to avoid dead-ends and plot holes"

I quite agree, D...

Jack Phillips said...

I'm going to attempt nanowrimo again too, as I have lots of time to work on it - my schedule right now is amazing.

I'm either going to go with one of several fairy tale-esque stories I have quasi-fleshed out premises for or a more "serious" novel about the last speaker of a language and his attempt to reconnect with his children/grandchildren so their culture is not lost with his death.

I don't know.

D said...

Those both sound pretty cool. I've always liked your whimsical fairy stuff, like in the Changeling campaign you ran; but you also do some good serious things, too (like with your Ghastly Little Tales), so I think the grandfather story could also be a really good one.