Ready, Set, NaNo

The last time I wrote on this blog, I was posting a short story. Soon thereafter, I was starting a new job. This post isn’t about my new job, except to say that it’s been the primary cause of (a) me having less time to do anything creative and (b) me feeling more like myself and wanting to be more creative. It always amazes me how a job can do that.

This post is, instead, about NaNoWriMo.

No matter how much art I do, how many videos I (try to) make, or how many photographs I take, writing is still my preferred form for expressing myself creatively. I love stories. It’s still I binge watch boxsets, and go to the cinema (almost) every week. It’s why I listen to friends talking about themselves so much. It’s why I read as much as I can (which I’m more inclined to do now that I’m back getting busses across the city in the morning and evening). Writing lets me take that love of stories and turn it into something. A comic script. A poem. A short story. A novel.

Or, in the case of this year’s NaNo novel: Interaction Fiction.

I’ve never written interactive fiction before, but it’s been a preferred form of gaming for me for a long time; it’s rare to find a game that’s actually interactive, where the ending is determined by your choices, your failures and your successes. (Heavy Rain is actually amazing for that, and I had a near-perfect ending until I messed it all up in the last couple of scenes.)

My novel is going to be less of a roll-the-die book and more of a try-to-die story. Failure, to an extent, is encouraged, and often unavoidable. The book is built around a character who features only very slightly in my last book, A Death in the Family. The man, Kurt Crane, cannot die. Not in the traditional sense, in which someone remains dead. He comes back. Every time. And the book, in being built around him and that little quirk of his, is his prison cell.

Or, more accurately, a Murder Dungeon.

I’ve been throwing the phrase around online a bit over the past few weeks. The Murder Dungeon is complete, now, with a floor plan and a spreadsheet and a backstory. And a name – the name of the book: The Necrohall. Only a handful of people have seen the floor-plan. Eventually it may end up on a t-shirt.

The actual artefact of it, though, serves as both a helpful guide for the writing process, and a motivator. It screams, ‘This is what you have created, an impossible building of terror and pain and death; bravo.’ Making the floor-plan as I planned my book – and I always plan my novels, because to do otherwise would be to drive myself yet-more insane than I already am – helped me become more and more excited about the book, and the books to follow. Stories are weaving through my head, tying the individual narrative threads into one deadly noose.

NaNoWriMo feels like a long way away from where I’m sitting. 11 days from a 30-day challenge is an eternity. (Conversely, 11 days off a 30-day challenge is like lying down for a nap and waking up immediately, but hours later. You don’t see the time go.)

I’ll try to write something else in the meantime, while preparing for events and attending a couple between now and the first weekend in November. I’ve the Geek Mart tomorrow, DECAF on October 30th, and Cosmic Rebels on November 4th and 5th. I’ll also be packing a keyboard with me for my lunches in work for the duration of NaNoWriMo.

Hopefully, my novel will be less rambling than this post. Hopefully I’ll finish. Hopefully you’ll join me. And hopefully I’ll get to share the Murder Dungeon with the world some time after I’ve worked out all the kinks, brutally murdered Kurt Crane a few dozen times, and made sure all the bloody little pieces fit together. Maybe after that, I can reassemble my own sense of sanity. But where’s the fun in that?

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About Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer, born, raised and still living in Dublin. By day he's a student and bookseller, by night he writes fiction and uses social media.
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