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Plunging into National Novel Writing Month

November 2, 2011

From Chapter One of my new work-in-progress for NaNoWriMo 2011, Fragments:

Land loomed up from below: not another island larger than the rest, but real land that stretched out towards something like a horizon. Other islands were dropping down around them, locking together with the edges of the land or settling into gaps like pieces of a puzzle. While they did not break apart against each other, it looked like a rough landing.

“Look.” She pointed with her free hand. “I think we’ll land there, next to that water.”

He nodded slowly and looked her in the eye. “Go together?”

She squeezed his hand tighter. “As soon as we get close.”

The ground was flying up to meet them. She could make out the shapes of individual leaves on trees that had already landed. The wind rushed up and whipped their hair behind them. She took a deep breath and heard the boy do the same.


They stepped forward and leapt together.

The leap that my two main characters, Mei and Rufen, take at the very beginning of the story is a lot like the leap that many writers, both aspiring and professional, make at the beginning of each November. Granted, National Novel Writing Month doesn’t usually hold quite the physical danger of jumping from a flying island on a collision course with the ground, but this first day of writing a new novel—especially during NaNoWriMo—still gives me a thrill even after eight years of participation.

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, stop now and go here. When you’ve finished reading that, if you have any interest in writing fiction, head on over here to join in! Even if you don’t have a plot ready and waiting for the opportunity to escape your brain, it’s not too late to get started and see what you can come up with.

This year, I’m finally tackling a story that’s been sitting in my head for many years. It’s one of those stories that started with a dream, but it has moved so far beyond the original concept that only a few pieces are still recognizable. I posted briefly about it in Current Projects, but here’s a longer synopsis from my profile on the NaNoWriMo website:

Three worlds have been destroyed, and the remnants float in a void. Some of these pieces hold the survivors of the old worlds, people who have clung to tiny rocks in the darkness and now get to witness the first dawn of a new world formed from what’s left of the old.

One group of survivors works together to create a new life for themselves, including a young girl who has lost her memory of her previous life and world. Others are beginning to lose their memories as well, and Mei decides that if she can’t remember her own life, she’ll record and guard the most important memories of everyone else.

But the world is becoming more and more unstable, threatening to break apart again. While her friends attempt to defend the home they have built against a group of marauders, Mei must discover the truth behind a mysterious woman and find a way to hold their new world together permanently.

Through the course of this month, I’ll be making occasional updates on the progress of the novel and what it’s taking to get there. This may involve copious chocolate and caffeine, frantic late-night plotting sessions, and plenty of write-ins. (If you’re a local San Francisco Bay Area participant, especially if you reside in the East Bay, make sure to check your regional forums for write-ins! You might see me at some of them.) Friday Freewrites in November will be NaNo dares for those of you who are participating this year.

Good luck and happy noveling!

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