Happy November, everyone! The first of November means the start once again of NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month, when thousands of writers set out to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. This will be my sixth year participating. Two of my published novels (The Storyteller and Her Sisters and The Lioness and the Spellspinners) started out as NaNo novels. It’s hard every year, but always a lot of fun too.
This year I’m launching into a new fantasy world. My working title is Not the Chosen One, a story from the point of view of the very smart female friend of the prophesied Chosen One. If it sounds like Harry Potter, yes, I think my fondness for Hermione influenced this idea–but from that germ of an idea I anticipate a more original novel as it grows.
I have a complex magic system to start playing with involving eight different disciplines, including literata, magic involving words. I’ve read several books where word magic was at play…and never liked how it was done! Clearly I should explore this myself. I also decided this world has four sentient species: humans, dragons, jinn and sea serpents. They have not always got on.
My Chosen One’s future is a bit complicated in that he’s fated to defeat great evil, but no one knows quite what that evil is. Just between you and me, I haven’t fully formed that either (the joy of inventing while writing in NaNo! Actually, it really is fun). But since those multiple species are only in an uneasy peace, I think a new leader starts stirring things up–but not everyone agrees on who is good and who is evil and just who the Chosen One is meant to defeat–nor is it entirely clear whether he can do it on his own! Which is where his friends come in.
And so we begin NaNo with some characters, some themes, some shaky worldbuilding and only a smidge of plot…but we’ll see what happens. As usual, I expect to do less of my regularly programmed blogging for the next month, but will be posting with NaNo updates and excerpts.
Let’s start things off with a bit of the story that I actually started writing in the last couple weeks. I won’t count those words for my NaNo total, but it helped to start into the story before day one.
In deep, resonant notes, every gargoyle in the city solemnly intoned the first stroke of fourteen o’clock.
“Rancor and spite,” Agatha muttered, breaking into a run as she crossed the wide plaza. In a pleading tone she added, “Speed, momentum, fleetness.” It didn’t seem to make an appreciable difference.
It wasn’t her fault that her gryphon had developed hacking feather-and-hairballs this morning. Nor was it her fault that some ill-fated student of arithmetica had chosen today to try long division on the short-cut bridge from the north to the south towers, dividing the bridge in two equal halves and utterly disrupting all traffic—or that she’d been up late last night triangulating stars for her prophecy class—or that her glowing alarm crystal had utterly failed to glow this morning and prevent her oversleeping—well, maybe that was her fault, since she’d set its glow to begin with.
But the extenuating circumstances still made it firmly not her fault that she was about to be late to her Ancient Runes and Cryptic Symbols class. This would matter not a whit to Professor Vsshyshh. Dragons never ran late.
The gargoyles were on their seventh tone by the time Alyse reached the edge of the plaza, and on the tenth by the time she was pelting up the stairs towards her fourth-floor classroom. Dragons always held class on the topmost floor and she had never questioned it, but just today this seemed an irrational and unnecessary requirement. She’d be in a first-floor classroom by now.
The tiny winged gargoyle over the doorway was opening his mouth for his fourteenth tone just as she approached. He paused to look at her, winked, and then tolled his final toll a heartbeat behind the rest.
Alyse ducked through the doorway, dodged around three desks and slid into her seat as the final echoes faded.
A moment of silence, save for the whisper of Professor Vsshyshh’s tail scales sliding back and forth over the wooden floor. No one can be quite as silent as a dragon. Maybe it was their size. When a creature who sits three times the height of the average human, with a wingspan two times larger, plus is an almost shockingly vivid green, decides to be silent, you notice it.
Finally Professor Vsshyshh cleared her throat with a rasp like a file on steel and said, “We will resume our discussion of the cryptology of our friends the jinni. We were discussing the local variation on their ancient language.”
Alyse let herself relax in her chair. Close enough to on time. Or maybe, like her friends kept teasing her, Professor Vsshyssh really did like her.