Friday, November 20, 2015

In the Midst of Madness

For all writers out there, November isn't just a month of family, good food, and awesome deals (if one is willing to wait in line all night.  Or three or four nights).  It's a month to put those words that have been floating, collecting, and jamming the inside of your head on paper.

Throwback picture from last NaNoWriMo.
Yes, my house is that cold!
Finishing out the third week of NaNo, I have somehow more confidence than when I started and less.  More because words are flowing out a lot easier than I expected and even when I've expected to get stuck, I haven't, and less because I am working on this book.

This book is my baby.  The story that started it all.  My first book.  I'm no longer eleven years old and now I don't just write to change the end of other people's stories.  I write to tell my own.

Peter Pan is a story ripe for the retelling, the reason why it's stayed timeless since Peter's first appearance in 1904.  Even small elements of the story have been used in multiple ways to add flavor to other stories and you would be hard put to find a person, at least in the US, who didn't at least know who was being referenced when the boy who won't grow up gets mentioned.

I've discovered something strange in the nine chapters I've written.  Peter Pan is an unexpectedly dark story, make slightly darker by my own unique (I hope) twist.

There have been multiple steps in plotting this particular novel, even more than my plotting for QoT.  There are a lot of different complications in writing a story about time travel and a legend that would've taken place in a mostly real backdrop (QoT), than a mythical, magical island where kids who don't grow up are in charge and hapless pirates create entertainment, not danger.

I knew I didn't want to incorporate magical elements so that went into the trash bin of plotting ideas right away.  While I have worked with super human powers and time travel, I've always kept it on the science fiction-y end by giving somewhat-ish reasonable explanations as to why everything is the way it is.  Even the Doorway that sends Gwen back to Camelot is explained away as a scientific fact.  Neverland has some very odd vegetation, some parts of the island where gravity is funky (flying, anyone?), and several other things that would never be found on Earth.  Knowing these things, one of my first plotting moves was to figure out why the environment would be the way it was.

From day one of writing QoT, I worried about writing Gwen.  She has not and continues not to come easily to me as I struggled to understand her character and move it in the way I want.  I talked a bit about it with my critique group leader this week and figured out some hidden things about her in conversation that I'd never really realized, things that will fuel her actions and in turn, move along the plot line.  With all the elements I've worried about getting right with Darling, Wendy has never been one of them.  She is by far the easiest character I've ever written.  The girl has sass, is impulsive, and consequently ends up in multiple bad situations because of her hotheadedness.  Even to the moment where gets captured by pirates (spoilers~~~), she won't back down.  It's been really easy to write her.  The challenge this time around will be making her character likable.

Gwen is likable but there are times when even I want to say "Get a backbone, girl.  Stand up to them!".  As QoT progresses, she becomes a lot more sure of herself and a lot less likely to let people push her around.  Wendy starts at the opposite end of the spectrum and has to soften a bit.  She has a lot of trust issues which I haven't totally justified with her past.

Because I'm not spending as much time figuring out Wendy, I've been putting a bit more time into Pan and Hook.  I wrote a post a while back about how all the characters in QoT essentially boil down to how they treat rules.  In this book, the characters all boil down to how they view other people and how unselfish they'll be.  Hook and Pan were on a very similar path but then they made a different decision.  Peter decided to sacrifice his life to protect others and Hook sacrificed others lives to protect himself.  I'm very interested in the characters and how that dynamic will pan out (pun intended!).  I literally only wrote Hook's first sentence today and I'm already excited.  I've never tackled a pirate before (figuratively or literally :) and I'm looking forward to the challenge.

The next time I write, it should be with a solid 50,000 words into my manuscript and NaNo completed!!!

-Anna Leigh

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