NaNoWriMo reflections: Day 1

Good morning readers/fellow writers!

It’s day 2 of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Against my probably-better judgment, I decided to do it (or try). I am currently editing Novel 2 (Aestus, Book 2: The Colony), which takes a ton of time and effort, and yet I couldn’t resist joining NaNoWriMo again this year. There’s just something about working in tandem with thousands of other people on a fun and over-the-top project like this. It’s pressure, in a good way. It’s fun, it’s frustrating at times, and I love it. 

So here I am, trying to write a third novel, and I’m running into an issue, one that took me some time to define to myself. It’s one of scale, it turns out, or at least that’s what I think the problem is.

I really love writing epic adventure – Aestus is a two-part series (so far!) with plenty of it – but I still deeply care about the characters. They don’t get lost in the vastness of it all, plot or landscape. In fact, if you read closely, their entire story’s setting/region isn’t really that huge. It may appear to be huge by the fact that they can’t really travel aboveground once the sun comes up. But that doesn’t detract from the story. It may actually enhance it, in my opinion. As my friend said, I could probably write all sorts of stories that happen in their not-that-big fictional bubble…because it’s character-focused rather than “big things happening in the background”-focused. I’ve read other novels that just leave me cold because they involve armies and Big Ideas and yet I can’t bring myself to care in much depth about most of the characters, or even know what’s going on (I do, uh, pay attention!). In Aestus I can describe to you the way a specific canyon looks, and how far on foot it is to x or y destination, or how a character feels about a place and why. (Yes, I wrote the thing, and did a lot of research, but I can do this with novels not my own as well.)

So now I’m looking at writing a novel that involves relatively real-world geopolitics, across nations and borders and whatever, and I’m kind of stumped. Challenge accepted, but I’m also wondering if I even want to accept the challenge. I love spy novels (Jason Bourne ftw) but even those feel more immediate than the kind of large-scale things I’m envisioning here (especially since spy novels tend to think of “governments” as “a few powerful/nefarious individuals acting directly,” which – I mean, maybe to an extent in some cases, but in my experience they tend to leave out boring/inconvenient forces like markets and similar, at least to a realistic degree). Additionally, the plot I’m looking at would seem to largely take place far from the governments/whoever else acting in the background, which presents another challenge.

Anyway. These are just some musings for now, but I would prefer a smaller-scale grand adventure where the characters don’t get lost in the “scenery.” Might have to tweak a few things. And no, this is not an attempt to get out of doing the necessary research, haha.

Or…maybe I should gear myself up for a writing adventure of my own.

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