This year, prepping for National Novel Writing Month has been a struggle. The semester’s over but I’m exhausted, and I don’t want to plan a 50,000 word novel. I just want to sleep.
I’m not really a plotter at the best of times. I tried a couple of years ago, and the result was a book without a soul. Sure, it had all the plot beats a book is meant to have, but it was dead inside. It wasn’t interesting. I loved the characters, it just never came through the way I wanted it to. Poor Grizelda will have to wait for another year to get her novel.
So I don’t plan much. I have a theme or a feeling I want to bring into it, some characters and a setting, and I go. This year is different because I don’t really have a theme. I have characters, and I have a starting point, but I don’t have my direction. I don’t need to have a map, I don’t even need to know where I’m going to end up… but if I don’t have a direction, I can’t go anywhere.
The characters are lifted from my “Chasing Regrets” story, posted here a few months back. The basic premise I’m more or less ditching, and I’m not sure where I’m going to go with it. I want to play with time, to be experimental, maybe to incorporate some elements of the supernatural. I like the idea of Paul being dead and it dawning on him slowly as he encounters people with more and more horrific injuries, but that might be a bit too much comic horror. We’ll see.
The title I got from a scrap I wrote about them a long time ago, when I was first toying with it.
It’s come up before in some of my other work, but I like the idea of the dead living a parallel life in a shadowy echo of the real world, going about everything as they did before because they can’t find it in them to stop. Still smoking, still feeling guilty about smoking as if they still have lungs to turn cancerous. Eating as if they need the fuel, and doing so with the mild confusion that they don’t seem to feel hungry any more. Sitting at a bar with a hole in the back of their heads and no one notices or says anything.
Actually perhaps I’ll make it a Cotard Delusion situation. Maybe it’s not that he doesn’t realise he’s dead. Maybe he has the slow realisation that he’s dead…. except that he isn’t. I’ve always wanted to write something about the Cotard Delusion.
I suspect it will all hinge on my total inability to write a genuinely bad ending. I just want my babies to live happily ever after. The Bad Ending, where everyone dies or the MC ends up depressed and alone, is just a tough thing to write. I want him to have emotional fulfilment and some kind of comfort, not to end up upside down on the floor of a pub toilet.
But we will see. I’m sure all will change come November.