Category Archives: first draft

NaNoWriMo is almost upon us.

nanowrimo1

For most people November means Thanksgiving, College football, Black Friday, and stuffing yourself with so much turkey that we can’t look at it for at least the next six months. But for a select group of crazies out there, November is the month where they throw caution (and sometimes sanity) to the wind and attempt to write 50k words in just 30 days. Which also means starting a brand new story on day 1 and either finishing it on day 30, or in my case, getting a good chunk of the narrative down.

For millions of writers around the world, November is the event they have been waiting for, hoping for or dreading, gearing up for all year long. It’s NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month.

Last year, I did a series of posts about NaNoWrimo that you can find under the On Writing – NaNoWriMo cathegory, so I will try not to repeat myself too much. If you are still not sure if you want to try doing NaNo  or not, I would recommend reading this post – 5 reasons everyone should do NaNoWriMo at least once.

So today, I want to talk a little bit about my reasons for doing NaNoWriMo. This isn’t my first rodeo, so to say. I’ve done (and won) NaNo in 2013 and 2014, and I went on writing afterwards until I finished the novels I’ve been working on. So I am not approaching this year’s NaNo with a need to prove that I can do it. I’ve already shown that I can. But I am just as giddy and excited about November 1st as I was two years ago. And do you know why?

Because NaNoWriMo is a wonderful and unique opportunity to throw your caution to the wind, shut your inner critic in the basement, and just run with the story. There is nothing better to shut down your “Spock Brain” as Kristen Lamb puts it in her excellent article, than having to put out 50k words in only 30 days. That’s roughly 1.7k words a day, which can be a challenge, especially if writing is not your full-time career and you have to carve time for it out of your already busy schedule. My average daily output during the year is about 600 words, sometimes a bit more, but I try to never do less. Well during November, I have to do almost triple to keep with the word count.

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Let me tell you that when you are pushing yourself to write as fast as you can for as long as you can in the limited time you have (for me it’s early morning before work, during my lunch break, and before bed when the rest of my household is asleep), you don’t have time to second guess yourself or worry about your sentence structure or verb usage or even if that paragraph you just finished makes sense. You have to press on and keep the story moving, no matter what. Even if it seems silly or stupid; even if you feel like your writing is horrible; even if you are certain that you just zipped by a plot hole so big a small truck could fall into it.

During NaNoWrimo, I don’t have time to worry about that, and I never go back to re-read / edit what I have written. If I get an idea on how to change something, or if I know there is glaring mistake somewhere, I write it down in my notebook and keep on going. I can address all these issues during revisions, but I need a fully finished draft first.

And I don’t know about you guys, but for me there is something liberating about just rushing ahead and letting the story spill out of you without any restrains. Yes, it might be half-baked and will definitely not win the Nobel prize of literature, but it won’t do that just sitting inside your head either.

Hemingway

So I take a deep breath on October 31st and set off into a mad dash that doesn’t slow down until November 30th. By that time, I usually have over 50k words of my new novel written and the momentum carries me well into December and January when I finally finish the draft, because most of my novels run in the 100k words category. Of course, I usually slow down after NaNo, going back to about 1k words a day, but by that time I’m past the halfway point of my story and I am excited about reaching the end.

So to conclude this rambling post, for me NaNoWriMo is the essential yearly boost of motivation , like a writing vitamin shot, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Worldbuilding – my process.

Paiting a new world, what's more exciting then that?
Paiting a new world, what’s more exciting then that?

After I wrote this post about the importance of worldbuilding, I received several comments on Facebook asking for more examples of my process. Since I’m outlining Shadow Hunters, a story that I will be writing during NaNoWriMo 2015, I have a very fresh worldbuilding example to share, so why not write a post about it, huh?

 

Usually, all my stories start with a scene that just pops into my head in its entirety, like it’s been cut out of a movie. In the case of Shadow Hunters, it all started with the following scene:

 

A cable car cabin is slowly making its way above a vast forest. There are two people in it. A man and a woman, both in their late teens / early twenties. They sit on opposite sides of the cabin, as far away from each other as possible. They sit in tense silence, throwing wary glances at each other from time to time. There is definitely history between the two.

 

All of a sudden, the cabin lurches into a stop. Three things happen almost simultaneously. The girl draws her twin long knives and launches at the boy. The cable snaps. The cabin plunges towards the forest floor.

 

That’s it. That’s all I had to work with. One scene does not a story make, so it’s my job as a writer to discover the story this scene belongs to. And the only way to do that is to start asking questions.

Creating new worlds.
Creating new worlds.

The first question that came to my mind, surprisingly, wasn’t “Who are these people?” but “did they survive the fall?” The answer was – yes.

 

Which brought forth another question – how? Because the girl is a Shadow Hunter. But who or what are the Shadow Hunters? That simple question turned out to be the most crucial one, because to answer it fully, I had to build this whole new world and set up the rules.

 

Only after I did that could I go back to the scene and ask all the other questions like did those two know each other? What were they doing in that cable car alone? Did she really try to kill him? All those questions deal with the actual story, but in order to tell that story, I need to know the world these characters live in.

 

So what are the Shadow Hunters? They are a special caste of people who act as intermediaries and mediators between humans and spirits. They are the only ones allowed to travel through the wilderness freely as well as to guide humans along specially designated routes.

 

This answer raises a multitude of other questions. Humans and spirits? Wilderness? Castes? The answer to each of those questions will show me a bit more about this new world and bring forth even more questions.

good-luck-road-sign

In order to answer the question about humans and spirits, I had to do an extensive research and spent four days binge reading everything I could find about Japanese, Chinese and Korean spirits and mystical monsters, as well as everything about Shinto, because this Japanese religion is the closest to what exists in the world of Shadow Hunters.

 

When I raked my brain about the significance of the wilderness, I learned that this world was divided into several human kingdoms that exist within fixed borders and are surrounded by spirit lands called the wilderness. They are connected by several unchanging routes, the cable-car road from the above-mentioned scene being one of them. For a human to venture into the wilderness uninvited or without a shadow hunter guide means certain and often painful death.

 

So why are the shadow hunters able to travel through the spirit lands freely? Because they go through a ritual that makes them more than human, but not quite spirit. They bridge that divide, with their feet in both worlds but belonging to neither.

 

Caste is another word that brought forth more questions. If there is one caste, does that mean there are others? Is this a rigidly divided society like we see in India or ancient China? Another dive into the currents of the Internet and an intensive read about those two countries gave me my caste structure which plays a significant part in the worldbuilding.

 

This also made me think about how people from different castes would recognize each other. That’s important. Their whole attitude and behavior towards each other depends upon knowing where you and the person you are talking to stands on the social ladder. They need a way to determine that quickly and with minimal room for errors. What better way to do that than to integrate the caste into their very names? So I spent a few more days devising a system where certain castes could only begin their names with certain letters, and how those names and surnames changes when they married into different families and (rarely) a different caste.

 

Of course, a lot more questions followed after that, and all of them helped me discover more about this brave new world, but I won’t mention them here because “Spoilers, dear,” as River Song from Doctor Who would say.

River Song from Doctor Who.
River Song from Doctor Who.

But as you can see, after asking myself some very simple questions and taking the time to explore the answers, I managed to go from one scene to a fully fleshed out world.

 

Now I could sit down and ask story related questions like who the hell are you people? What are you doing in that cable car to begin with? What’s the history between you two? But that could be the topic of a whole new blog post.

 

So here is a little insight into my worldbuilding process. How about yours? How do you discover your stories? How do you get to know your world and characters?

Why I write my first drafts longhand.

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Several people on Twitter asked why I write all of my first drafts longhand since it’s so much quicker to type it directly into Scrivener. While I answered them, there is only so much you can fit in 140 characters. Plus, I think that this is a good topic for a blog post.

I have been a writer for almost two years now, so I think that I have pretty much found a routine that works best for me. I went through a long process of trial and error to get there, but I’m pretty happy with what I have now (though every process can be perfected indefinitely). So maybe my ramblings and explanations can help someone else who is struggling with their productivity and is still looking for the best way to put words on the page?

Anyway, here are some of the reasons why I write my first drafts longhand.

 

1. You can carry a notepad and pen anywhere you go.

 

I work full time as an Office Manager and writing happens on top of that. My writing time can happen any time I have a spare minute: it could be during a 15 minute coffee break, during lunch, in the bathroom (yes, I have been known to go to the loo with a notepad, shock!), or in bed when my husband is asleep. So with this erratic schedule, it’s much easier to carry a small notepad and a pen in my purse than a tablet / netbook.

Plus, I need a normal keyboard to type fast. I hate the touch screen keyboard on my iPad, plus it seems like it can be laggy. Nothing aggravates  me more than to type up a whole sentence and wait for it to show on screen… only to notice that I mistyped something halfway through and have to break the flow and go back to correct. GRR. I know that some people don’t pay attention to mistakes when they write down their first draft, and mostly I don’t either, but when I notice one, I can’t just press on without correcting it first.

Also, a small notepad is easier to fit on the table during lunch than a tablet / netbook, especially how small the tables in some restaurants are.  And if I spill a drink on it by accident (it’s been known to happen), I only wasted $4-5 instead of $500.

Blue blood on the page!
Blue blood on the page!

2. Keeps you focused on the task at hand.

 

Don’t know about you guys, but when I sit at the computer, I can find a million things to keep me from writing. I would start writing something, then decide to look up a word on google, then read an interesting article, then check on Twitter, oh and Facebook just buzzed me that there is a new post, and where did 3 hours of my life go? End result – almost nothing written and lots of time on stupid stuff.

When I am alone with my pen and paper, I HAVE to focus on what I’m writing instead of letting my brain flutter around like a butterfly on Red Bull (especially if I leave my cell in the purse and resist the temptation to check Twitter every 15 mins as well). So I get a lot more writing done in 1 hour with a pen and paper than sitting in front of my computer, even though my typing speed is much faster than my writing speed.

Usually, during my 1 hour lunch, I manage to write about 600-800 words (and eat something as well, most of the time). As an example, I’ve been trying to write this blog post for the past 3 hours and I barely got to the midpoint. Granted, it’s Monday and I have a lot of work to do as well, but I also spent a lot of time procrastinating on the internet instead of writing.

 

3. Helps organize your thoughts.

 

I don’t know about you, but I have noticed that writing longhand forces me to organize my thoughts better, which in turn results in a cleaner first draft that requires less editing afterwards. Writing longhand gives me the opportunity to think about the scene I’m working on, choose the right words and commit them to paper. While my hand finishes one sentence, my brain is already working on the best wording for the next one.

As I said, I can type really fast, but sometimes my fingers get ahead of my brain. So the resulting text is sometimes less than adequate. Don’t get me wrong, during NaNoWriMo, when I need to write 1666 words per day to get to 50k by the end of November, I usually bypass longhand and mostly write directly into my Scrivener file, but when I don’t have that time constraint, I prefer taking a much slower approach.

Plus, there is just something magical about seeing a pristine white page slowly getting covered with blue ink that motivates you to keep on writing. Seeing the words appear on a computer screen doesn’t quite have the same effect, maybe because the end result is not quite as immediately tangible (unless you print your work every day).

Creating new worlds.
Creating new worlds.

4. First round of editing when typing the text into Scrivener.

 

To me, that’s an added advantage of writing the first draft longhand. On the weekends, I usually try to type up everything I wrote during the week into my Scrivener file, which means that my text goes through a first round of edits almost on the spot. Sometimes I just change a word or two. Sometimes a  few sentences here and there. It also happened that I wasn’t entirely satisfied with a scene when I first put it on paper, but by the time I was typing it up, my brain had come up with a better version that ended up being a full rewrite of the original scene.

So to me, writing longhand has some definite advantages, even if the process takes longer. I think that for those struggling with concentration or motivation, this method might be beneficial as well.

 

What about you, my fellow writers, what are your preferred methods of putting words on paper. What helps you get through that hard to do first draft and get to the end?

The songs that inspired my stories.

As writers, we are creative people, and everything and anything can nudge us towards the next story we absolutely have to tell. It can be a movie or TV series we saw, a video game we played, a book we just finished, or simply the way a flight of sparrows contrasted against a crimson sunset. To me, music plays a very big part in discovering new stories as well.

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Let me explain. Unlike a lot of writing friends I talked to, I CANNOT write with music. Absolutely not. I don’t mind some background noise, like in a café or restaurant, or I would never be able to write on my lunch break, but as soon as there is a song with lyrics playing – it’s game over. I get distracted. I lose my train of thought and my writing session gets irrevocably derailed. I don’t know why. I would say that I start listening to the lyrics instead of writing, but then songs in a language I don’t understand (Japanese or Korean for example), still break my concentration, so that’s probably not it. Strangely enough, TV as background noise doesn’t have the same effect. Go figure.

Anyway, I don’t listen to music when I write, at least not if I want to be productive. However, music plays a huge part in the creative process anyway. All the stories I wrote so far have a particular song attached to them which acts as the soundtrack and the embodiment of that story.

Sometimes that songs comes during the writing process – I would hear it on the radio and have that “aha!” moment that tells me this song fits my story to the T. Sometimes I would find that song early in the planning and outlining stages. And sometimes I would find a song that would resonate with me for no particular reason, that I would obsess over for days if not weeks before  a story comes, and I understand that this songs belongs to it.

So today I wanted to share the songs that inspired and helped me write the stories I have written so far (and the one I’m plotting right now).

 

Of Broken Things:

This was the first story I’ve ever finished and it’s also the only science fiction story I have written so far. So when I heard Radioactive by Imagine Dragons, I couldn’t help but feel that it captured the mood of my story and my world perfectly. This future world where Aiden and GMS798 live in might be peaceful and prosperous on the outside, but there is still something toxic and radioactive brewing in the shadows. Because people will always remain the same, and power has a tendency to corrupt even the best of us.

“We’ll paint it red to fit right in.” That’s something GMS798 could have thought several times when he discovered that nothing really changed in the 100 years he’d been in cryo-sleep.

 

The Choices we make:

This story was song less for a long while, probably because I wasn’t sure where it was going when I first started writing. This is probably why I put it away for over a year and finished Of Broken Things before I dusted it off and finally managed to do an outline.

While writing my first draft, two songs stayed with me and I came to associate them with this story. It’s  Dance with the Devil by Breaking Benjamin and Demons by Imagine Dragons.

These songs both show that the characters in this story have to face some downright frightening things and uneven odds and also face their own demons in order to emerge better people on the other side, or die trying.

Shadow Hunters:

This is the latest project I’m working on. The idea came to me after watching the Korean Drama City Hunter, but it also came with a song attached to it (a song that has nothing to do with Korean dramas by the way). It’s Shatter Me by Lindsay Stirling.

This song is so perfect for this story, because it’s about young adults who still have a lot of growing up to do. They have to find their own way in this world, which takes a lot of courage, especially if that first step on the road towards the future they want means breaking with tradition or family wishes. So the fear of change that Lindsay talks about in her song is very relevant to the story.

Plus one of the characters is a gifted violin player 🙂

 

Still unnamed plot bunny that might be a future story:

As you can see, any story I write ends up getting at least one song associated with it. So when I happen to hear a song and it just won’t let me go, I tend to stop and think about it. Is that a story that’s trying to get to me?

This happened 3 weeks ago,  when I first heard the song Monster by BigBang.

Kpop is not something I usually listen to. First, I don’t understand the lyrics. Second, I don’t really like rap. But I kept obsessing over this particular song for some reason. I kept listening to it over and over. I even bought it on ITunes! I kept wondering why it touched me so much when I had to google the lyrics to even understand what the song was about. Then, last night, the miracle happened – the plot bunny finally hopped into my brain and made itself at home. Everything fell into place – the song and the story. So I guess I have my next project lined up after I am done with Shadow Hunters…

 

 

And now a question for my readers. Do you guys have songs that you associate with the stories you write or read? Is it just one or two songs or do you collect an entire playlist for each project?

What I love about starting a new story – worldbuilding.

Creating new worlds.
Creating new worlds.

I have taken yet another break from editing because I got bitten by a rabid plot bunny that just WOULDN’T LET ME BE! It was stomping all over my poor brain until I finally gave in and decided to work on it in preparation for NaNoWriMo 2015. On minus side – Of Broken Things are sitting in a drawer again. On the plus side, I have another exciting story to tell!

So today I want to talk about what I absolutely love in the process of developing a new story – the worldbuilding. For me, there’s nothing more exciting than grabbing the newly born story idea and pulling on it. It feels like I’m slowly unraveling a big messy ball of yarn and knitting a beautiful blanket with it… or a sweater… or a piece of art… you see the picture lol.

In the case of this new story, the premise is simple – boy meets girl. She shakes up his small and familiar world and makes him question his believes and his place in this world. It’s been done almost to death before, I know. But the important thing is not what the premise is, but how it’s presented and brought to life.

That’s where worldbuilding is so important. This boy can’t exist in a vacuum. What world does he live in? What does he believe in? What family does he come from? Who are his friends and his enemies? What does he want in life? Who is this girl and why does she challenge him so much?

All those questions need to be answered before I can even begin to think about the story itself. And all those questions bring with them even more questions, all of which serve to slowly paint the picture of a bright new and hopefully unique world. And I feel like an adventurer setting foot on virgin soil. I’m the first one looking at that world. Nobody has ever been here before! It’s a heady feeling.

terraincog

I usually write up to 40k words in worldbuilding alone, and most of those will never be included in the actual story, because they are for my eyes alone. But I never consider that a waste of time. To me, it’s one of the most interesting parts of working on a story. I get to write anything that strikes my fancy.

So my protagonists are from different social backgrounds, but what exactly are those backgrounds? After a few hours of surfing the Internet and lots of writing and rewriting, I came up with a whole new caste system where the first letter of your First Name and your Surname immediately indicates which caste you belong to, whether you were born into it or joined it later  in your life, as well as what family you married into and what family you came from. So in this world people know almost everything about you social status as soon as they hear your name.

Then I got to thinking what kind of world would such a rigid set of social and naming rules exist in and that netted me another 10k words in backstory and world description alone. And it was absolutely fascinating.

It’s a world where most of the land is a wilderness that belongs to spirits and humans live on specially allocated territories with rigid borders. There are only so many roads connecting different human lands and straying from them into the wilderness without a special guide is equivalent to suicide.

The spirits in this world are not like the ghosts we have in our Western culture. They are more similar to the definition in Japanese Shinto religion. They aren’t good or bad, they just are. A bit like rain and snow, summer heat or a wild fire and a tornado. In this sense, they are very similar to the mushi from this excellent Manga. Some spirits are completely alien in their forms and their mentality, some are more similar to humans. Some are interested in human affairs and even help sometimes. Some are absolutely indifferent as long as humans don’t infringe on their lands.

The human lands each have a ruling family that derives their power and authority from the Mandate they have signed with the spirits. It’s a lot similar to the Mandate of Heaven from the Chinese mythology. Only in this world, the Mandate has a tangible confirmation in the form of a glowing Stone placed in the Temple of each Capital. As long as the Stone is unbroken, the ruler (and the country) have the spirit’s favor. But once it’s broken… let’s just say that wilderness can claim a valley in less than a day.

The Shadow Hunters are people who went through the initiation and became more than human, but not entirely spirit. They act as intermediaries between humans and spirits, since they are the only ones who can understand the spirits. They are also the only ones who can travel through the wilderness unharmed. In exchange, they act as guards, protectors and “game keepers” for both the wilderness and the human lands, striving to preserve the balance of this complex ecosystem.

good-luck-road-sign

That is the world in which my next story will unfold, and it’s different than anything I’ve written before. The more I find out about it, the more fascinated I get. Now I just need to sit down and figure out what story I really want to tell that would be as interesting and captivating as the world it takes place in.

That’s a work in progress, so stay tuned.

Write what hurts.

revision angst

The more I edit, the more I tend to agree with the statement that putting your first draft away for at least a month (and longer if you can) is a must. I also recommend writing something else to clear your head in the meantime, preferably in a different genre. That way, when you come back to your story, it feels like a stranger and you rediscover it like a reader would. Let me tell you that all the flaws and inconsistencies will jump right at you from the page!

 

Another realization I came to after almost 2 years of doing this and 3 completed first drafts in various stages or revision is that I have a much clearer picture of my strengths and weaknesses as a writer now. It’s one of those weaknesses that I want to talk about in this blog post.

 

Let me be plain – all my first draft endings suck. The last third of each story always requires the most changes to beat it into shape. I was flabbergasted by this realization at first and ran to my beta extraordinaire for some advice. Well, okay, it’s more like I ran to her in a panic saying, “Oh my God, I suck! Why did I even think I could be doing this for a living? I want to burn all my drafts. Somebody shoot me now!”

Editing

Thankfully, she managed to pull me off the ledge and screw my head back right… and she also explained why I kept dropping my endings. She said, “You’re too nice to your characters.”

 

I went back and thought hard about it and realized that she was spot on. I like my characters so much that when I need to let them go through something painful, I cringe and pull back. Yes, I spare their feelings and their lives sometimes, but I also lower the stakes, kill the conflict, but most importantly, avoid that cathartic moment that’s the lowest low before the character’s final rise. Because I love them so much, I don’t let them crash and burn like they should. But a phoenix can’t rise unless it immolates itself first, right?

 

That’s why my advice today, for myself and for my readers is “Write what hurts.”

 

Yes, you love those characters, of course you do! You wouldn’t have decided to stick with them for months, telling their stories if you didn’t. That’s precisely why you can’t soften the blows when something in your story will hurt them. In fact, that’s precisely why you SHOULD write it. Don’t just light a bonfire, burn the whole damn house down. Make your characters go through fire, flood, heartbreak and despair. Sink them low, because that’s the only way they can rise as better human beings.

 

You can’t wrap your characters into bubble wrap and expect to write an interesting story. If your readers like your characters, they need to be worried about them. They need to cry with them and for them; they need to rage against the injustice they are facing with them; and they need to be released for them once they emerge victorious.  This can only happen if the stakes are high and the odds are seemingly insurmountable.

Laughter can keep darkness at bay, even if you are laughing through tears.
Laughter can keep darkness at bay, even if you are laughing through tears.

And for that to happen, you have to write what hurts. In fact, if it doesn’t hurt to write something, then it’s a good indicator that your story took a wrong turn somewhere. I admit that I still cringe at the thought of doing that to my characters, but I reassure myself with the idea that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for them (and no, it’s not an incoming train), and all the suffering only makes the ending more sweet.

 

And now I just need to dive in and totally rewrite the last two chapters of Mists to make it right. Then I need to go back and rewrite the ENTIRE last part of Broken Things as well. I’m in for a lot of pain… But isn’t that what writers do? They suffer with their characters.

Korean drama and plot bunnies, or my mind works in mysterious ways.

Image courtesy Badgirlzwrite.com
Image courtesy Badgirlzwrite.com

So I have been merrily editing my way through Chapter 18 of Broken Things when I decided to take an hour break and watch City Hunter, a Korean drama that several of my friends highly recommended. Plus, I had a valid reason to watch it, I swear! Just like my novel Of Broken Things, it deals with revenge and how it alters people. It raises some important questions. How far would you go to get your revenge and still be able to live with yourself afterwards? Where is the line after which you lose your humanity? How can you survive when your quest backfires and hurts your loved ones? Does the goal really justify the means?

 

Anyway, I had just intended to watch the first episode before going back to editing, but it was just so gosh darn good that I decided to watch episode 2 as well… There went my three day weekend, my sleep and my sanity.

 

This show rocks, people! The story is solid and fast-paced. The characters are fully developed and believable (and lovable). The actors who play them did a wonderful job of showing us the tragedy of the situation without falling into cheap pathos. I rooted for them I was scared for them, and I cried when one of them died. I hadn’t been this engaged with the characters of a series since Buffy or Firefly, so that’s saying something. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the main male lead, Lee Min-ho should officially change his name to Lee Min-HOT. And boy, can he act.

 

But I digress. After watching 20 one hour episodes in less than three days, I woke up on Sunday morning with a rabid plot bunny gnawing on my brain. You would think that after City Hunter, the story idea would be about revenge… and you would be wrong. No revenge at all. Zilch. Nada. And it’s not even set up in our modern world. The only thing it took from the Korean drama is the Asian-inspired setting. Even then, the spirits in this new story have more similarity with Japanese mythology than Korean.

 light-bulb-idea-vector

And the biggest surprise is that this plot bunny jumped into my brain already half-grown and well-fed. Usually, I just get a scene, or a glimpse of a character or two, maybe a vague idea of the world. This time, I already have a pretty good grasp on the world structure, mythology and topography, and even a bit of historical background. I have two fully formed protagonists, each one with their own backstories already.

 

More importantly, I KNOW exactly what this story will be about. No, I don’t have a fully-formed plot just yet, though I do have a scene that I know will be pivotal in the story. But I know the MESSAGE this story will tell. This is a first for me. Usually, the actual message emerges somewhere in the last quarter of the first draft or even during editing. Here, I already know the message and I haven’t even started planning or outlining yet!

 

And another big surprise: it’s a Young Adult story. I’m floored. I don’t usually read YA, and I certainly don’t write it, at least not intentionally, because Mists of the Crossworlds turned out YA in the end, but was certainly not planned like that.

 

This new story starts YA from the beginning. It’s a coming of age story. A story of self-discovery, self-improvement and even self-sacrifice. Oh, and it’s definitely a love story…

 

So after watching 20 hours of contemporary drama about revenge, my brain came up with an idea set up in a magical / steampunky world with not a single revenge plot in sight. Inspiration, you sure work in mysterious ways. Maybe I should cast Lee Min-ho as the male protagonist, just to pay tribute to the series that jolted my brain into overdrive?

 

Anyway, I spent most of my Sunday frantically typing all my shiny new ideas into Scrivener. Good news – I think I have my NaNoWriMo 2015 project pretty much locked down. Bad news – I haven’t done any editing at all this weekend.

 

What I mostly wanted to show with this story is that it’s good to expand your horizons sometimes, to venture out of your comfort zone. That’s where the best ideas lie in waiting. I was unfamiliar with Korean dramas and rather skeptical when I started watching City Hunter, yet it gave me a precious gift: the makings of what will become a wonderful story.

Image by Van Assche -Embarcadero
Image by Van Assche -Embarcadero