Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Day 2: The premise

Last year when I participated in NaNoWriMo, I started with absolutely NO idea what I wanted to write about. I had no plot, no characters, no setting, no ANYTHING. I had the crazy idea that if I started with a single line ("The first line, like the next step, is always the most difficult"), I'd be able to free-write my way into some sort of story. Instead, I spent the first three days producing nearly 6,000 words of free-written crap. It wasn't that there weren't some interesting sentences and paragraphs in amongst the mess...there just wasn't any discernable story-line to pursue as I flitted from one possible character (and subsequent narrative dead-ends) to another.

Last year, I didn't happen upon an idea of what to write about until November 3rd; this year, I tried to hit the ground running. Although I don't have the sort of plot outlines, character sketches, and research notes that many more organized writers start with, I have a basic premise, based upon this picture. Although I don't know exactly who that Painted Lady is, she's the muse of this year's NaNo novel, in which a college prof (someone like me, but not me) becomes fascinated with a creepy house in her neighborhood, a mysterious packet of unopened letters she finds in her cellar, and the revealed connection between that house and those letters.

I'm not sure what that "slowly revealed connection" is exactly: it feels like I'm writing a mystery, and even I don't know whodunit, or even what sort of crime was committed. But I have a main character, a rough premise for a developing plot, and a quickly scribbled idea for the first five chapters. So word-counts notwithstanding, I'm ahead of where I was last year, at least in the idea department.

So, how about you? What promising (or paucity of) premises are you working with? Do you prefer to make things up as you go along, or do you prefer to have a roughly charted plan?
Word-count: 2,059

Last line: Turning her attention from Rebecca's cell phone conversation, which loudly continued, to the gray sleepy world around her, Alexa saw her neighborhood slowly drifting by as her hip-wading fireman pulled her aluminum boat like Charon ferrying souls across the River Styx.


At 11/02/2005 9:02 AM, Blogger kenju said...

ooooh, I like that last line! When will we get to read the words that precede it???

At 11/02/2005 9:18 AM, Blogger Lorianne said...

lol...I'm not sure I'm brave enough to "bare all" any time soon! :-)

If I manage to produce a "complete" 50,000-word story this year, I might be tempted to return to revise it in the spring. But I can't imagine sharing much if any of the *rough* rough draft: part of the secret to successful NaNo'ing, I think, is the solemn promise that you WON'T share your Dreadful Draft with anyone until you've had a chance to revise it! :-)

At 11/02/2005 10:18 AM, Blogger John said...

I think you should add soy sauce bottles, some guy named Othello and a woman named Sarah! :)

At 11/02/2005 10:55 AM, Blogger Lorianne said...

lol... Oh, believe me, in about a week when I'm thoroughly desperate for word-count, I'll be ready to add just about anything!!!

At 11/02/2005 12:01 PM, Blogger leslee said...

Aha! Do I detect a similarity to recent weather events in your neck of the woods?

At 11/02/2005 1:06 PM, Blogger Lorianne said...

Yep! I'm not good at coming up with fictional events out-of-the blue, so I invariably "borrow" stuff from my life (like the protagonist being a prof: I mean, how un-original is *that*!)

So yes, the story is set in a town very much like Keene, and there's an October flood. Because her cellar gets flooded, the protagonist has to clean out stuff in her old house, where she finds a packet of old, unopened letters...

From there, it's fiction. But many of the details are "recycled" from reality. :-)


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