We’re finishing up the first weekend of NaNoWriMo! I was lucky to have a fairly quiet couple of days, so I’ve been able to get a nice jump on my word count–even though I also went to my writing group on Friday. 🙂 Right now I’m about 2,000 words ahead of the goal, which is very good because I know I’ll have a couple of days next week with very little time to write.
So far I’m enjoying the pace, especially the way the process moves so much faster when I write like this. Inspiration has been coming at a rapid rate so far, and those lightning bolt “oh, that’s how it should work!” moments are among my favorite parts of writing. I don’t know if I could sustain this long-term, but it seems to work for a month–or at least four days so far…
My biggest lightning bolt up to now has helped me (I think) work out one of my biggest plot problems previously. You see, my premise got me into a very particular corner. The whole concept of the book started when I was reading fairy tales and somehow sparked off this idea about an imprisoned hero who has no actual ability to fight the monster, but keeps standing up to defend the heroine anyway. The villain finds that funny, and backs off–until the next day. And so it keeps repeating day after day.
I loved the dynamic of that interaction, and I think I’ve been able to write it to really work for the hero. The trouble was, it didn’t work at all for Maggie, my heroine. For the dynamic to work, Michael can’t have an actual chance when he stands up to the evil king, which means that there’s really no place here for Maggie to do anything.
I can’t stand passive heroines, and there I was in a corner with a heroine who had to be passive, at least for the first section of the book. This was probably the biggest thing that got me stuck the first time I tried to write this book. But, on about November 2nd, lightning inspiration hit me. I’m frustrated by this–and Maggie can be frustrated too. I don’t have to have a passive heroine–I can have an active heroine who’s being forced by circumstances to be passive, and she damn well doesn’t have to like it!
It was a really helpful breakthrough for the character, and for the feel of this part of the novel. And I’ve come up with a few things Maggie can do or at least try to do, around the fringes of this focus-point conflict.
There are more plot holes farther down the line, both things don’t make sense and sections I just don’t know what to do with yet…but with any luck lightning will continue striking! For tonight, here’s an excerpt.
Maggie woke up the next morning to find that she was still here. The idea was somehow even more oppressive the second day than it had been the first. She lay in the ridiculously large bed, stared up at the canopy, and tried not to roll over onto her stomach and cry into the pillow. If she managed to resist that impulse, then maybe she could muster enough will to get up.
It might not have been as bad if she didn’t feel so aimless. She wanted to do something, and she was at a loss to know what. It was entirely possible that this current situation, exactly as it was, was going to go on for days or even weeks. If the last two days were any indication, she could stay in this sort of limbo, not quite slipping into further hells, for the foreseeable future. At least until Michael developed a stronger sense of self-preservation or, as seemed vastly more likely, King Maurus decided to stop being amused.
So she had some space. And it made her want to claw the walls that she couldn’t think of anything to do with it. Escape plans and exploring were all well and good in theory and no doubt would be just the thing in a story, but the fact of the matter was she had no real direction and no clear ideas, and wandering around this castle, well…how likely was it really that she was going to find a secret tunnel, or a magic sword, or…anything, really.
She had always been the instigator. She had always been the one who made things happen if there wasn’t enough going on. It was a byword in Beaumont, that she and Lina always got into some kind of enormous trouble in February. One year it was nearly drowning trying to skate on a frozen pond; another year all the hunting dogs around the castle became decidedly drunk when their water was not-too-mysteriously spiked; and then there was the time she and Lina actually snuck along on a hunt and then got lost and…it was really just as well that no one knew about the time she’d dared Lina to climb out on the roof of the highest tower, and then of course she had to do it herself too. If they had slipped, that would have been a story to top them all, one they probably wouldn’t have lived to tell.
Things happened in February because winters were quiet and by February Maggie got tired of waiting for someone else to make things happen.
Now here she was in the most awful February of them all, metaphorically speaking, and found her hands completely tied. She wanted to do something besides stand there silently while King Maurus smirked and Michael went all noble. She wished she knew how to do magic, or even how to fight. Sure, one February she had tried to get one of the guards to teach her and Lina swordplay, but that had been stopped long before March. A talent for instigating mischief seemed hardly likely to help her here.
She didn’t cry, and she did eventually muster up the willpower to drag herself out of bed. She pulled on the first dress her hand touched in the wardrobe, some frothy blue concoction, obviously not designed for anyone who actually did anything. Fine. It was perfectly suitable, then.