NaNoWriMo 2021 officially begins one week from today on November 1st. For those of us who love a challenge, that will be the day we set the pen to paper and begin the actual writing of our projects.
So, what do we need to have in place during the next seven days before the big event?
One: We need to have characters.
Two: Our characters need an environment to live in, a world to inhabit.
Three: Our characters need some sort of backstory, so we know who they are when we begin writing.
Four: We need a plot or at least an inciting incident. We should have some idea of that moment when our frogs leap from the frying pan into the fire.
Five: You should try to identify your subject and unifying theme. We’ll talk about those things further on in this post.
How does my storyboard look right now?
Characters: This will be Ivan’s second book, so I have his backstory and don’t need to worry too much about that. Ivan is a fire-mage, an armorsmith, and a shaman. He is a father, a husband to his life partner, Kai. Kai is an earth-mage and a mason. The two share four children with another lashei couple, Avis and Venna. The children live with Ivan and Kai, as Avis and Venna are traveling dye traders.
Environment: Ivan and Kai live in Weiland, Tribe Weila’s riverport and mining center. Ivan’s extended family has five rowhouses at the upper end of High Street. It’s a steep but easy walk to the market for his grandfather, who lives next door and watches the children while Ivan and Kai work. I drew a little map for my notes, so I know the layout of where everything is in regard to their home and businesses. It could change, but I have something to start with.
His brother, Aldric, and his wife, Marta, have three children. They live at the other end of the row of houses. Ivan’s father, Aengus, and mentor, Jan, have their homes there too. Behind the rowhouses are a walled shared garden and orchard and the family’s barn. Ivan and Jan’s armory is a short walk through the back garden, and beyond that is Kai’s quarry.
The backstory: is already established for this book, as book one is currently being edited.
The inciting incident: At this point, the inciting incident is the arrival of news that a neighboring town has been attacked by tribeless raiders. It’s suspected the raiders are led by a rogue mage. Ivan and Kai must go and deal with that, a simple-sounding thing that becomes complicated. Aldric and Marta join them, leaving the children in the care of the three grandfathers.
What I hope to achieve by the last paragraph of this book: Ivan will be forced to grow in his role as a shaman and mage. Kai will be challenged when an old acquaintance is discovered in the rogue mage’s entourage. Aldric’s and Marta’s skills with weapons will be critical, and the blade that Ivan made for Marta when they were young will be the key to resolving the final encounter. Each character will be tempered steel, able to do what must be done, and still remain compassionate.
Subject and Theme: So, what is a theme? It’s different from the subject of a work. An example that most people are familiar with is the Star Wars series and franchise. The subject is “the battle for control of the galaxy between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance.” The themes are “moral ambiguity” or “the conflict between technology and nature.”
The subject of this book is how the desire for dominance and power corrupts an abused young mage, and the destruction he creates in his attempt to control his life. This book will explore the theme of good vs. evil and the subthemes of comradeship and love of family. The books I am drawn to often feature these themes.
How do you identify your theme? Sometimes it’s difficult unless you start out with one in mind. Here is a short list of some themes for you to consider:
- Coming of age
- Crime and Justice
- Fall from Grace
- General dehumanization of society
- Good vs. Evil
- Humanity in jeopardy
- Nostalgia for the good old days
- Rebellion and revolution
- Religious intolerance
- Separation and reunion
- The hero’s journey
A common theme in fantasy is the juxtaposition of chaos and stability (or order). This subtheme will feature strongly in my novel. Good vs. evil is a trope of the speculative fiction genre. Evil is usually portrayed by taking one or the other of these concepts to an extreme.
Epic fantasy is usually good vs. evil, based on the hero’s journey. The stories detail how events shape the characters.
That is what I am writing in November.
#NANOPREP SERIES TO DATE:
#NaNoPrep: part 1: What’s the Story? (the storyboard)
This Post: #NaNoPrep: Countdown to November, Subject and Theme