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votes are in and names are up

Wow, thanks for everyone who voted on the NaNo novel! The numbers are in and it stands as this:

Option 1 (comic urban fantasy): III

Option 2 (children’s adventure): IIII

Option 3 (literary fiction): IIII I

So it looks as if I’ll be attempting some literary fiction. That’s a new one for me and I have to tell you, I’m a little intimidated by it, but in the end, challenges are good, aren’t they? Help us to rise above ourselves? Make us better and stronger people?

… alright, it did sound more convincing in my head…

Okay, I’ll be serious. Serious about planning, that is. Since it’s already the 18th (!!! gahhhhh! how did that happen?!?!?) and there is lots and lots to plot and plan. Some things I already know though. The names. I don’t how how you guys deal with names, but for me, it’s pretty much one of the first things I know about a character. Not always. Sometimes I know who he or she is and then find a name that fits them. But usually, the name and the character of the person come to me in a bundle. And then, once they have that name, that’s it. There’s nothing I can do about it. I might want to change it later on, because maybe the name has to sound different or maybe it conveys a ‘wrong’ cultural background or two names in one story sound too much alike, but in that case, it’s just bad luck. Nothing I can do about it.

I mean, just imagine if you took it into your head that you really didn’t like your own name that much and you decided to go by another. Maybe you have a second name, maybe you’ll change your surname to something else… but underneath, in your own head, wouldn’t you still think of yourself by your original name?

I can see how a change of name would help if you wanted to become a different person. Just like clothes, I guess: you put them on and you just feel different. They allow you to leave your personality and pretend, for a little while, that you are more fun or more quiet, more outspoken or more professional, more this or that or anything else that you can think of than you usually are. That’s one reason why people dress up for job interviews or for dates or for festive occasions – it’s an outward signal to themselves and it bucks them up to be professional or at their most charming or in their best festive mood. It helps. It’s certainly part of why I only really use make-up and fancy jewelry at certain times (like interviews and exams and parties and so on). In the end though, you’re still yourself when you take the clothes off.

A change of name, of course, is more permanent than clothes and I’m sure it would help you change, just by always reminding you to be different and act as a sort of guide to the new you. But that’s exactly my point with characters: once they have a name, that is them. I cannot change the name without changing the personality. And the other way round, if I think that that secondary character (or even, in one case, the main character herself) really has to be different to fit in the story, then I need to do them from scratch: new personality, new name, new character. The old ones gets put in a back corner of my head, where they sulks for a while, crossing their arms in front of their chests, huffing and kicking at the dusty furniture and pretending not to be hurt, until they snatch up a random particle of inspiration and hold it up above their heads, its light reflecting back on their faces and lighting it up with a wild hope and glee and they shout at me: “That’s my story, right there! All mine! My story! Do something about it! Move, come on!”

(I don’t know if your characters sulk or are hurt or angry at you or shout at you and order you about, but I fervently hope they do, because if they don’t, it might mean I’m crazy after all.)

So, yeah, names are IMPORTANT. They define people. They define characters in novels. And I have the names for my next book, and attached to that, the personalities of the characters. That’s a good start, right?

All the writers out there: do you find names as important as well? Are you able to change them in the middle of the story or is that utterly unthinkable for you?

please choose my NaNo novel!

As October is sprinting on, a new challenge is starting to loom on the horizon for all write-minded people.

Yep, NaNoWriMo is upon us once more.

I didn’t realize this until a got an official e-mail last week, reminding me of the fact. For some reason, it’s the same with NaNo as with Christmas – both happen so suddenly. Just – bam! – and there is November and the madness of writing a minimum of 50,000 words worth of story. And straight after receiving the mail, I also noticed that the writing-oriented blogosphere was buzzing with NaNo, with everybody writing about their preparations, their fears, their motivation and so I decided it was high time I did the same. Just so I don’t feel left out.

The first time I attempted NaNo was last year, and I crashed and burned quite soon into the proceedings. Then I attempted the June version of it, which calls itself Camp NaNo and managed to be a glorious winner! Alright, I haven’t even finished editing that draft yet, but since I made that experience of sprinting over the finishing line with my whole system buzzing from caffeine and five minutes to spare, I have been game to try it again, so November is coming just at the right time! (well, it usually does, which is, right after October, but I guess you know what I mean…)

So for preparation so far I have done the amazing amount of nothing. I haven’t even decided yet on which story I should use. And since I can’t decide, I’d thought I’d get your opinions. If anybody out there is interested in playing fate, feel free and tell me your choice. (Just keep in mind that I suck at titles and I haven’t really got the plots for any of these figured out beyond the basics!)

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OPTION 1

Working title: Demon School

Genre: Urban Fantasy with lots of comedy thrown in and a chick-lit-kinda romance

Story (very roughly): A young woman from a small town, with a healthy dose of curiosity and the ability to put her foot in it whatever the situtation, takes a job as secretary at a London school on the recommendation of an old neighbour and discovers that the school educates all kinds of magical and fantastical youngsters, from vampires to ghosts and to dwarves and to banshees. General mayhem is the natural state of affairs at this school, but when first things and then kids go missing, she decides to play sleuth and thereby crosses the path of some dangerous people who are less than pleased at her knack of finding things out…

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OPTION 2

Working title: The Treasure in the Dunes

Genre: Children’s novel, Adventure

Story (very roughly): When Dan and his older sister are shipped off to their aunt in the wilds of Norfolk for the summer holidays because their parents need “time to sort things out” between them, he’s sure that it can’t get much worse. That is, until he meets his cousins, who run wild in the dunes and the forests and who despise him because he has glasses and comes from the city and is a pampered baby. When Dan discovers an ancient document, however, all four kids need to work together to find the treasure that has been hidden for so long.

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OPTION 3

Working title: Four Couples [this is the lamest title ever, but it’s all I can do right now]

Genre: Literary Fiction (???)

Story (very roughly): Eight people, four couples: one in a long-standing relationship, one that has just fallen in love, one that develops a love-hate relationship at first sight and one where fear stands in the way of love. Each person defines love differently and each has different expectations. Over the course of [a certain time] their relationships as couples, as family, as friends develop and happy ends are not always what they seem.

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So, which one’s the story of your choice? (I’m depending on you guys!)

Reading is dangerous

Beware of reading novels.

You get eaten alive. Your thoughts are not your own. Your dreams are being taken over. Your waking moments are haunted by others’ thoughts. Your language changes. Your outlook changes. Your perception of the world changes. Your priorities most definitely change. (I’ll just finish this one chapter, and then, then I can finally sleep, like I wanted to at the beginning of each of the last five chapters.) You are out of your own control.

And not always, upon finishing a book, are you richer for the experience. Often, a bit of yourself stays in that story. It calls you back and makes you remember long-forgotten passages or characters or pictures from a book you read many years ago and have not thought of since and that you cannot recall and that passage will haunt you for days and weeks like a ghost at the back of your mind and not let go and everything you see will remind you of what you loved and then lost and then forgot and then remembered and lost again – that world that you lived in for a few days and cannot go back to, and you will feel poorer for it.

Camp report no. 1

So the NaNo fun has started… I went into the game with slightly over 3000 words, none of which I’m particularly pleased with, but they needed to be put on paper. I’ve been doing other things the whole day, hoping to get every urge to procrastinate out of my system by dinner time. I work best at night.

My main character, Meg, has arrived in the village, had an almost-fight with her Mom and has made the acquaintance of some of her future friends. In the middle of writing I changed the sex of one of these friends – I felt there were too many girls. 🙂

Also, I’m so happy to have the support system of my cabin – hurrah for fellow writers!