4 Apr 2017

NaNo 2017 - Ideas and Concepts

By my watch, there's still seven months before NaNoWriMo begins.  That sounds kike plenty of time, but between other commitments, time evaporates faster than expected.  The sooner I can figure out the sticking points in projects, the sooner I can find a workaround.  That still leaves self-inflicted issues as a outstanding danger, like what happened with last year's project, dba LTV Paranormalists*, but if I can see something early, it's easier to write around it than to run into it mid-November.

I'll start with the new/unwritten ideas first.  Some may be familar, having been on the NaNo list before, but putting them down will help me try to get the ideas solidified enough to start working out arcs and characters and key scenes.  However, I am keeping open the idea of finishing an earlier work, as I'll point out later below.

The first idea is the Shadowrun webcomic/audio drama/holovid/dreamscape/*something* story.  It keeps changing formats everytime I think about it.  The audio drama idea came after listening to a couple of Star Trek fan audio series for Lost in Translation.  However, after adapting Unruly to an audio script, I'm starting to wonder if it may be easier to write a prose serial first, then go back and adapt to the desired format.  That means the idea is back on board.  Some changes are going to happen.  There were characters I just couldn't get a handle on; they'd work for me in a game, but not so much for fiction.  The only two characters staying are Tempest and the Chrome Rainbow.  Tempest provides a source of drama already, thanks to being a chiphead.  Chrome got saved after I realized that my new decker would provide a source of conflict with him, at least early in the series.

The new decker is a character I had worked out in the game's first edition - essentially taking the Elf Decker archetype and adding roots into the game's future history.  Skater, who has appeared in By the Numbers, has been a concept I carried through from edition to edition.  As it turns out, with the timeline advancing in each edition and the big event in her life locked at a specific date, Skater is roughly my age.  Skater will give me a way to express what it's like being an elder IT tech.  Yay?

With Skater in, that means Papa Slick is out.  The idea in the first arc is that Mr. Johnson wants runners who have never worked together before, for plausible deniability.  He needs just one decker, so goodbye Slick.  Sister Sam and Corporal are out mainly because I can't find an approach to use with them.  Corporal may be reworked, given a different background or I may just move him to being from the Salish-Sidhe Council lands.  Sister Sam's problem is her religious background; she's an interesting character, but she stands out.  Given that Slick is gone, thus leaving me without a runner who knows how corporations work.  Sister Sam may be replaced by a former wage-mage of some sort.  However, I do have their first run as a team in mind, which gives me a plot to send them on to see what they'll do.

The time-travelling kaiju idea is coalescing nicely in my head.  I have the core characters in mind, and their fleshing themselves out.  I have a rough idea of the limitations of time travel, and if I send the kaiju far enough back, the historical records get vaguer, allowing me to mess up history a little.  I have a good idea of how the defenders are travelling through time, mostly using kludges and brute force.  There will be some research needed; if I'm going to have one of my characters replace St. George when he fights the dragon, I should have details about St. George.  The dragon, naturally, is a time travelling invader.  I will have to write a scene before NaNo starts; the scene will appear later but affects the first scene in the series.  Time travel, messing up cause and effect since 2157.

A third idea that finally worked out a major problem features the crew of a small courier.  The original idea was an all-woman crew who stalled in their military careers because of gender.  But the more I thought about the setting, the more I realized that the future I'm picturing for the Terran Commonwealth wouldn't have this problem.  It's over 2500 year into the future and I could not justify to myself that sort of restriction.  Yet, I still needed a glass ceiling preventing the ship's commander from getting a proper command.  The solution came while reading a Traveller supplement.  The ceiling isn't gender but social class.  The ship's commander doesn't come from a proper background and thus had problems in her career.  This means that the crew doesn't have to be all women, which is opening up some possibilities.  The crew is small, the captain, the pilot, the mechanic, the medic, the sensor op, and the redshirt.  I need to flesh out the characters a bit more, but I have an idea for the first arc.  Yes, it's a serial; I find the format frees up trying to work out how to stretch an idea over 50k words and allows me to do a full-length novel later if I so choose.

As mentioned, I can also try finishing an earlier project.  As long as I only count the new words written after 12:01am November 1st, it's a valid approach.  Having recently read some of the incomplete - but still with a 50k+ word count - works, I realized that some didn't suck as much as I thought.  Time has a way of smoothing over the problems.  First on the list to complete is the 2015 project, The Elf's Prisoner.  Despite building the world as I went and not having a clue of where I was going until the third week in, it held together.  I can see a path for the story to take, especially since the key elements have already been introduced.  The core of the story is an investigation, not a quest, and that might be enough to prevent The Elf's Prisoner from being a fantasy heart breaker.  The world, despite almost no planning done beforehand, is solid.  I wound up using British Columbia as the rough geography, with the characters moving from inland towards the coast.

The other unfinished work I read was 2011's Bronya and Morwenna plot.  I had characters worked out in advance but, like The Elf's Prisoner, I hadn't worked out all the details like the main villain or the world in question before I started.  I do know who is behind what's happening and I know why.  I also have a scene in mind that I'm trying to work out how to fit in, and it might not fit at this point.  Work does need to be done before I think about continuing the story, though.

The Devil You Know from 2013 also needs some love, though that one is much closer to the end than the previous two.  The problem I ran into was dangling plot points.  I may also have to add in chapters featuring Gemma, who turned out to have a far larger role than expected, and Jack, who does need some spotlight time.  The climax is outlined in my head and involves rogue angels, rogue and rogue-ish devils, and Ione all dealing with the seamier side of the European underworld, ideally with an explosion.

Subject 13 could use some love again.  While technically the only part of Subject 13 that was a NaNo project was Crossover, the series itself could continue.  I am considering a time skip, bringing Nasty back home and seeing how she fares after her experiences in Rochester as Peregrine.  She did mature, so her dealing with people's expectations of her could be interesting.  I'll also have to introduce the Youth Brigade, via Pixie, to set up Crossover a bit.

Given all that, there is one project that's dead in the water - Digital Magic, which, for some reason, got a lot of hits since it was first posted.  I may salvage pieces from it, recycle some of the ideas for elsewhere, grab characters and scenes for other works, but the story itself isn't working.  It happens.  The big problem was that for a romance heroine, Jackie wasn't all that interested in any of the male characters, or any of the female characters for that matter.  Rewriting it as a straight-up spec fic story might work, but I'll want to revamp the world building before I even try.

Naturally, given that there's plenty of time before NaNo begins, I'll have other ideas come to me when I least expect it.  Having the ideas isn't a problem; I can work out details like setting and characters in advance and see if there are problems.  And a last minute idea, like in 2015, doesn't mean I'm floundering.  NaNo is a good time to experiment, even if the experiment fails.  The goal is to get words written, not written well, and I should be able to do that for each idea above.

* Short version:  Flashbacks must be handled with care.

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