Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thirty Days, Two Novels, One Crazy Writer

Leaping small buildings with a single bound is easy compared to writing one (quality) novel in thirty days. Writing two? That's...that's...just insane, Cannon. Just insane. What do you think you're doing?

There is a method. Yes, I am crazy, but this world needs a little more of my kind of crazy, in my opinion. Let me 'splain. Well, this is a blog post, so let me sum up.

My initial plan for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) was to finish Shadow of Redemption, the story of 16 year-old Emily who is afraid of everything but shouldn't be. She's been beaten down by the world and tries her best to remain unnoticed and alone. It's safe that way. Then she meets Daniel, the charismatic, lovable detective who tries to convince her she's worth more than living in rat holes and taking dead-end jobs and that people can not only be wonderful but make your life better. Throw in a bit of magic, some folk lore twisted in my crazy "there IS no box" sort of way and BOOM: urban fantasy YA is born.

However, life as a writer is never that easy.

You see, Daniel did this thing to me. (This is going to sound weird to you non-writers out there, but stay with me. I'll explain) Daniel decided HE needed to tell HIS story, too. So while I was writing Emily's story on the computer, I would dream (yes, quite literally) of Daniel's story and his adventures behind the scenes. And his story had such an influence on what Emily was doing (she was actually reacting to what he was doing without knowing it) that I HAD to start writing down his story. Thus, Shifting Perspectives was born. So, I figured, why not write them at the same time?

This seems a little over the top, but it actually works well in a revisionary sense. You see, when I get stuck on one story, I start writing on the other and figure out where to pick up on the first. The two characters play off each other in the most marvelous way. Where I thought Daniel was simply the foil for Emily, they actually foil each other. Not as in "curses, foiled again" but as in a reflection that makes the other shine brighter. And the more I learn about Daniel, the more I fall in love with him.

So back to the, "Daniel did this thing to me." If you're not a writer, you don't really understand. Characters have this way of surprising writers. It may seem to an outsider that a writer has full and complete control of their worlds (and some may. I don't know.) However, for me, it's like a chemistry experiment: I write the rules for the world, for the characters, for the plot and the setting, then throw everything into a box and shake well. Then like the good scientist I am, I sit back and observe and record what happens. Everything from that point on is (mostly) out of my control unless I change the rules (which is sometimes necessary). It's a little frightening, but also a little fun because I often don't know where my characters are going to take me.

So with one week to go, it's highly unlikely I'll finish both, but I'm a good ways into them and proud of the work I've done so far. Unlike some of the characters I've written about in the past, Emily and Daniel feel REAL. Which is huge. And I hope that translates to other readers as well.

Do I recommend writing two novels at the same time for everyone? Not necessarily. But sometimes it's good to have another project to help keep you fresh. Besides, if you don't try to leap smaller buildings, you'll never leap that skyscraper!