I know it’s still six weeks away, but NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is already on my mind. That might have something to do with the sudden switch from hot, dry, and smokey weather to rain.
Problem is: What to work on?
Last year I started work on A River in Each Hand, the sequel to Trust in the Forgotten, but fell ill about ten days into the month and was lucky to limp my way to the end. The result was a novel that remains a skeleton. I made a brief return to it in May, but otherwise life and other projects have kept me away.
So, here I am with NaNo around a not-too-distant corner. What to do? Skip it entirely? I could, but would rather not. Drafting the sequel to River isn’t an option with River incomplete. Maybe draft an unrelated novel?
I’ve done it before.
I’ve written experimental novels to practice newly learned skills or to take a test drive in a different genre. Problem is, six weeks isn’t a lot of time and I don’t want to break away from editing to plan a novel with all new characters.
And then I had a What If? moment…
Okay, hang with me now while I try to keep this from becoming confusing…
Crucial to A River in Each Hand is a journal written by a character who appears in Trust in the Forgotten. That character isn’t around in River (it’d be a spoiler if I revealed why).
Of course, there isn’t really a journal so leading up to drafting River I outlined the journal’s highlights and used that as reference. It worked pretty well—at first. Increasingly, there were times I wished there was more detail.
The problem was two characters who are important to the journal, but are barely mentioned in it. Those same two characters ended up becoming instrumental in River, but are reluctant to reveal details about those past events.
Seriously. Stuff happened and no one wants to talk about it. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that.
Those two characters are critical to the efforts of the protagonist in River, and all the while are caught up in their own adversarial relationship. Why? The journal merely implies, but doesn’t say.
H’m, starting to sound like its own novel?
Kinda, but not completely.
I still think it’s backstory (actually, a truncated prequel) and not a novel because it’d conclude when it intersects Trust, which means it wouldn’t have a true ending.
NaNo doesn’t care if I write something that I’ll never publish. So, yeah, that’s the idea I’m considering: writing the journal as a short novel (likely 50-60K would finish it). I’ve had almost a year to think about the events and all the main characters already exist. Oh, and it’s already outlined.
I’m not positive that I’ll do NaNo this year, but if I do I think this is my best choice unless a better idea wakes me in the middle of the night.