My NaNoWriMo: what I’m writing about and where it’s come from

This year I’m going to attempt NaNoWriMo again. Yay! Why? I like the community of it, the support network, the feeling of being part of something. I like the drive to produce without having the time to go back and endlessly rewrite the first scene over and over. I like the focus on getting something finished, so it can be edited later.I know it has its drawbacks and another year maybe they’ll see me saying “no”, but this year I’ve got something I really want to write and I’ve got the drive to do it.

So what am I writing, and why do I think this is the right story for NaNoWriMo?

The story isn’t titled yet. The folder everything is getting saved into is called “Penal Colony” because that’s the setting – more on which tomorrow. It’s a story I’ve been trying to work out for a long time – years even. Last year’s NaNo attempt was a different version of the same thing. So was 2011’s. But if I really examine what I’ve written over the last few years, if I’m honest with myself, what I was writing in 2009’s NaNo and subsequently battling with right up until May 2011 is part of the same thing, before what I wanted from the story was fully formed. In fact I can trace this story back to 6 March 2008, over five and a half years ago, to a fanfiction I wrote.

The fanfiction, my NaNo 2009 attempt, and a few other stories since including my failed NaNo 2011 and 2012, all had a core theme: the enslavement of a people by those occupying their home, and what justice they may or may not face once the oppressed population regains control. In fact justice is a theme that has cropped up again and again in what I have written, with answers across the spectrum of possibility. I even wrote a story once where an immortal called Justice was a main character, as well as a backstory for how he became the immortal of justice.

I still don’t know what my own answer is for what constitutes justice, and in part this novel is a means of exploring the topic through a character who is just trying to do what’s right in a society that doesn’t have these structures in place already. She’s looking for an answer for when things aren’t clear cut, for times when her emotions get in the way, for situations which are similar but subtley different.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about the setting I’ve developed and how it came about, and then after that I’ll look at each of the characters, what I want from them and what their arcs might look like. That should take me to the end of the month, ready to start writing on 1 November.

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