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So it’s October, and I’m already seeing people around me start getting excited about pumpkins and candy and costumes. I’ve never really been all that into Halloween, though, so for me October is all about NaNoWriMo prep!

This year I’m going to be working on a project that I started and then dropped about five years ago. It’s been simmering ever since then, and last week a bunch of things clicked in the shower, and I’m now super excited to see what I can do with two months of hard work. Of course, the writing doesn’t start until November, but that means I’ve got a month to get my foundation laid.

Which means that in the next 30 days (because apparently the 1st was yesterday, even though I thought it was today!) I need to figure out the following:

  • Setting: the bulk of the story is going to be taking place inside of a massive, city-sized library inspired a little bit by Garth Nix’s Library of the Clayr. In addition to the physical layout, I also need to figure out the organizational structure, finances, factions, living accommodations, social classes, legal system, recreation, and foreign relations. Probably a bunch of other things I haven’t thought of, as well. I’m planning for the library to be its own sovereign state and home to thousands of people, so it will have most of the challenges of a standard Fantasy city-state, but it’s also an institution in its own right which will come with its own set of problems to overcome. Why do I think that this is a good idea?
  • Magic System: I write Fantasy, so this one’s kind of inevitable. I’m planning on using a form of magic that’s rooted in calligraphy and song – the intersection between language and art – but I’m not quite sure what I actually mean by that. What can this magic accomplish and what are its limitations? Can anyone be a practitioner, or is there some kind of genetic component? Is there a difference in what can be done with calligraphic magic vs sung magic, and if so, why and what and how? Is magic viewed as helpful or dangerous, mysterious or commonplace, or something else? Do different cultures practice it different ways, and do those different practices translate into different practical applications or are they just a question of aesthetics? Also, what am I going to call this magic and the people who practice it? Do the written and sung forms have different names?
  • Characters: Right now I’ve got four main characters sort of loosely floating around in my head. They all need names, personalities, families, and histories. I also need to figure out the support characters … and probably also a villain. Villains are useful, especially if they don’t know that they’re villains. And because this is how I work, I’m also going to need to find someone to use as a visual reference for each character … which is my favourite part, so I should probably use that as a reward for myself later on.
  • Plot: Hahaha. Hah. This is the part I always struggle with the most. I know who my characters are (mostly) and I know where they are (sort of) and what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis (kinda) and I know what themes I want to explore, but … what actually happens? How do I get from the beginning to the end? I’m always admiring how other authors can come up with this intricate web of trials and triumphs that take their characters from their starting points through to the climax. Whenever I try to think about it, it seems impossible – but that kind of mindset doesn’t get you anywhere, so I’ve got a month to break past that!

And there’s probably a bunch of other stuff I’m going to need to do as well (like religion, for one) but I think this is intimidating enough as it is, so I’m going to leave it there for now.

Has anyone else started preparing for their NaNoWriMo project? I’d love to be inspired (and distracted) by other people’s ideas, and I’m always looking to make new NaNo buddies, so feel free to drop me a link to your page in the comments or add me!