Camp NaNo is here again, and I’m really hoping it’s going to jumpstart me back into regular writing habits. I’m pre-writing this last night, so two days into camp. The first day was sort of “ehhh” in that while I did get something written that I’d really been meaning to (specifically, the dream sequence intro to a fanfic that’s been awaiting editing for about six months) it wasn’t anything long or important or even, you know, particularly good. (Though in my own defense, it wasn’t precisely bad, either.)
Today was better. I started work on the crossover fanfic I’ve been wanting to get to for…I don’t even know how long. Months. (I could check the NaNo forums to find out, as I posted about it pretty soon after coming up with the idea.) And it’s starting out pretty well; in fact, one of the characters I’ve loved for years but never written for is behaving differently than I had planned, and what I wrote is actually much more in character for her than what I had planned, so that’s good.
What’s not good is that I kind of wanted to use this time to work on the first-in-a-series novel that I’ve worked on for the past two proper NaNos, and both of last year’s camp sessions. (Ooh, that looks weird when I write it out.) So November 2017, I wrote the first draft. April camp, I worked on revising the first draft, mostly just replacing some stuff that really didn’t work. Between April and July, I got it in the hands of a beta reader, and started July doing basic work on the draft until I heard back from the beta. It was one of those good news/bad news kind of reports. Good news was he liked the basic story and the world. Bad news was the characters weren’t very distinct from each other (even though they were like night and day in my head), and one of them was utterly useless. It was the “total lack of agency” point that really made me step back and see that he was totally right, my character was just this utterly passive shell tagging along after the other two characters. So I spent the rest of July ripping him out and replacing him with a different character who shared a few of his traits, and also trying to make the other two characters’ on-paper versions match the versions in my head better. A long and laborious process, but the new version is infinitely superior to the old one. However, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough to differentiate the cultures in the book from the ones in reality that had inspired them, so for November of last year I decided to write up a book of that world’s mythology, complete with introductions and footnotes by one of the minor characters from the novel, who happens to study that sort of thing. And then after that I integrated the myths into the book where I could (I’ll probably have to do a full new draft for a complete integration), but I realized I had left out a major one who had been directly referenced in the novel, a mortal hero comparable to Cu Chulainn. (Fortunately, I have total freedom as to what to have the hero’s myth contain, because the novel’s reference was just to his birthplace.)
Anyway, long story short (too late!), I was really hoping to get that finished up so I could polish up the other few major rough spots in this draft and send to to another beta reader. Because I promised myself that I would eventually release this novel to the public, and I don’t want to do that until it’s actually ready for it.
Of course, there’s other complications. I don’t write descriptions because my brain can’t really process them, so people always have trouble visualizing what I’m writing about. And the majority of that mythological world building from the second year’s NaNo can’t be comfortably included into the novel without distracting from the story. For that matter, there’s already extraneous stuff tacked onto the front of every chapter (largely the diary of an important historical figure which the heroes find and read late in the book) which already probably distracts from the story.
So what I kind of want to do with it is instead of just releasing it as a free ebook on LeanPub or wherever, work it up into a particular kind of “game,” the name of which I’ve forgotten. “Dynamic novel” or something like that, I think. There’s this kind of game called a “visual novel,” which is like a choose-your-own-adventure novel with constant pictures. (Large sprites of the characters in a scene, backgrounds, the occasional full-screen splash illustration of a major event, that kind of stuff.) The thing about a visual novel is, of course, that you make choices that alter what happens, usually heading you towards one of multiple endings, and sometimes (maybe even often) giving you the possibility of getting yourself horribly killed. But there’s another kind that’s the visual novel format without any of the choices, and that’s what I’m thinking would be good for this novel. Because as the player (reader?) went along, they could unlock diary entries, myths, and other flavor text which they could then read from a menu whenever they wanted. The flavor text would still interrupt the flow, but less so, and could be omitted entirely if the reader (player?) didn’t care enough to bother with it. Of course, to do that I’d have to get it all polished up and find an artist or five to create illustrations to go along with it. And find some way to pay for said artist(s) and their work. (A Kickstarter campaign would probably be required, sadly.) So this is whole “dynamic novel” (or whatever it’s called) thing may just be me spinning my mental wheels fruitlessly, but it’s at least interesting to contemplate.
But I can’t even think about working towards that eventuality without first finishing up this draft to the point that I feel it’s read for another beta reader. And I can’t do that while I’m writing fan fiction instead. But I just feel so much more motivation for the fan fiction right now.
And it’s the right thing to do to just get writing first, right? And worry about what I’m writing later. Right?