I have a veritable history with NaNoWriMo. I began participating in 2003 and, with one exception, have won every year since.
In 2003, I had written only one novel before; it was The Dark Wars, an unfinished Young Adult story about the most memorable and violent time in Lavana‘s history. It spanned five spiral-bound notebooks – yes, I had written the entire thing by hand. But, in 2003, I was a fast typist, and my NaNovel was done on computer. It was entitled Seeker, a story about two gay boys in college trying to find themselves and finding each other instead. (Shh. It wasn’t a real romance, I swear.) While I got 50,000 words on the story, the plot arc was far from complete. This would set the norm for all NaNovels to come.
In 2004, I wrote Outcast, my first Korat-only novel. I got 80% finished with the story arc by the time I crossed the 50k finish line, which was the closest I’d come to completing an entire novel in my life. I even skipped ahead and wrote the ending scene (which, sadly, I later lost). Outcast followed the story of a lone striped female as she never stopped running for her life, even when she encountered three people who actually didn’t want to kill her.
In 2005, I wrote The Panthera Walkers: Peace as part of a Panthera Walkers trilogy (the second book, might I add – the first and third unwritten). Set in Ykinde, TPW:P chronicled the story of the growing Walker tribe and their aid in trying to establish peace between Lupos and Avans – trying to end the Elderwar – and how nothing is ever as black-and-white as it seems. I had a lot of trouble that year and took a major plot detour, then had to write feverishly to catch up and cross the finish line – at something like seven minutes ’til midnight on the last day. It was nuts.
In 2006, I failed. I did participate, and scanning back over my personal journal for November, I wrote that I’d gotten 21k on something. For the life of me, I can’t remember what it was, so I’m inclined to think it was a bunch of false starts and half-baked stories. My only excuse was that two great friends of mine were visiting for two weeks from Britain, and I was out and about with them almost every day they were here. (Sure, I was working full-time, too, but I’d been working every November except for 2003 – and in 2004, I was taking a few college classes as well as holding a job!)
In 2007, the miracle that was The Demon-God of Jubagh came to pass. By the time November rolled around, I’d already finished Book One; that year’s NaNoWriMo saw Book Two and half of Book Three completed before the 30th, and the rest of Book Three finished before the December holidays. I’ve already discussed TDGoJ previously on here (see the above link), but let me tell you – this was the first (and so far only) time I’d truly, totally, 100% finished a novel. I was gleeful.
In 2008, last year, I struggled to pick a direction for the first week or so. I first veered towards an anthology of myths and stories of Redwood, sidifir oerri, ageless mother of the Koratian race. I thought I could do two novels in one month, since I was on part-time at work and would never have that much free time ever again, so I tried to do a story about animetals on Ryarna in that world’s equivalent of the Wild West. Both petered out within days, and then – thanks in large part to some brainfodder and a great friend being a sounding board – I got inspired to do Into Fang Wood. I flew past the finish line, half-crazed and gibbering from the chaos of trying to wrangle that story in a month. (Later, of course, I found out how big it wanted to be, and I quailed, and then I began outlining…)
In 2009, this year, I have something very fun planned. The incredibly tentative working title is The Ghost In The Machine. (Asimov, I salute you, sir.) Set in the Gurhai universe, it will feature three corata, shapeshifting mammalian predators, who find themselves on Ryarna by chance or by fate. They encounter an impossible thing: a feral, instinct-smart herd of motorcycle-like wheeled vehicles that are, apparently, bound to and powered by animal ghosts. It’s illegal to fuse a ghost to anything but an animetal shell, however, and these wheelers are meant for personal transportation alone – not animation. Not only do the corata have to survive the largely-without-fleshy-animals desert, they have to figure out how to survive increasingly restless, doggedly stubborn aniwheelers.
It’s going to be so much fun.
Fellow WriMos, what are you planning for this lovely November?