It’s almost April and that means it’s time for the first Camp NaNoWriMo of the year! If you’re not familiar with Camp NaNoWriMo, it’s a more flexible version of November’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) event, running in April and July, where you can work on any written project of any length and set a goal in words, lines, pages, hours or minutes.
Rather than starting a new project in April, I’m continuing work on an existing one. For NaNoWriMo 2017, I wrote the first draft of this project with the title 22 Cards. The working description was Inspired by the concepts and symbolism in tarot’s major arcana, 22 Cards weaves a winding path through five lives connected by the delicate threads of chance and possibility.
The outline was tight. It was purposeful, intentional, precise. The whole thing was planned down to the last detail. But. BUT.
I took a break after NaNo to let it sit for a while before I started editing, but the characters didn’t want to take a break. They started asking things.
What if I did this instead of that?
What if my story ended differently?
What if everything was SO MUCH DARKER?
I kept telling them to shut up. We were working to an incredibly detailed plan, right? We’d spent so long figuring all this out. We don’t get to just start throwing what-ifs around, do we?
So maybe we do. If they want to go darker, maybe they should be allowed to. Maybe these fictional people deserve to choose their own weird path. If they want their stories to take a different direction, maybe I should say yes to that.
Camp NaNoWriMo April 2018 is me saying yes. It’s my exploration, my free rein, my throw-the-plan-out-the-window, my no-pressure-just-create. I’ve kept a copy of the book exactly as it was, so if I end up hating the new direction I can easily return to the original. But I have a feeling that won’t be happening.
Rather than setting a word goal, I’ve set a goal of 50 hours for the month. I feel like I’ll probably spend a lot more time working on this book during April but I also know that I need to deal with that annoying tendency to refuse to take breaks even when my eyes stop working, so a comparatively low goal allows me to do that without getting anxious.
I’d like to introduce you to the characters but instead of posting straight-up profiles, I can share excerpts because I’m going into this with parts already written. It’s not easy to find a few lines in an entire book that sum up each character, but these lines pretty much do it. Enjoy, or whatever the appropriate word is.
(Male. 33. Does things with computers but can’t really talk about it)
He lifted a hand to my throat, thumb pressing in just the right place for just long enough. His other hand found my hip, gripping hard enough that my heart pounded in anticipation of bruises to come. There was a sudden stutter to my breathing, which did not escape his attention.
(Female. 27. Musician, collector of knives and cannabis connoisseur)
What it comes down to is that I don’t know anymore if I want you back or if I want you gone forever. All I know is that I want you to feel what you did to me. I want you to be lost in the deepest of chaos and I want it to hurt.
(Female. 35. More chauffeur than getaway driver, but never say never)
Two junkie-looking streaks of piss in matching grey tracksuits shuffled past and one of them muttered, “Dyke,” under his breath. I didn’t move but I lifted my sunglasses and stared at him, getting a good look at his face, giving him a good look at mine. He looked like he wished he hadn’t said anything.
(Male. 43. Retired contract killer having a caffeine-fuelled mid-life crisis)
I walked swiftly behind him, avoiding the blood. I didn’t want any stains on my coat. I wrapped an arm around his neck and leaned down, lips close to his ear. “The difference between us,” I whispered, “is the sound of screaming doesn’t get me hard.”
(Male. 31. Military veteran and accidental purveyor of prophetic wisdom)
After a while, dying’s all the same, no matter who’s doing it. And where do you go after that? How do you start looking for god when you’ve been wearing the face of a monster? Who are you when no-one says your name out loud anymore?
Are you taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo? Leave a link to your project in a comment so I can check it out!