It’s Week 1 of October, and what I’ve got listed as the first order of business for this week is to finalize the world-building aspect of this year’s project. That means having a solid understanding of the culture, environment, class-systems, and general geography and history of this story’s world. I still have a few lingering to-do list objectives, such as also finalizing the core cast, and I found that difficult to do without having a more solid idea of the story’s general world as a guide.
This came as a surprise, because normally I would start with characters earlier on, and then built other aspects of the story around them, and I think I still do that to an extent. But I’m forgetting that when it comes to the finer details, like how these characters interact with their own world, that requires having an understanding of that world in the first place – the standards, rules, expectations, and available loop holes. Sometimes new character ideas spawn directly from having an understanding of the solidified world and what interesting things I can do with it.
As some of you know by now, my theme for these NaNoWriMo projects is Horror Vs. Fantasy, which has now become the official name of the series. Each project is something horror-themed verses something fantasy-themed.
As I address the fantasy side of this story, I’m going back over notes I had made years ago for my general fantasy world that eventually became Vel Ardon of The Final Power: Chronomancer, which I’ve been using as a template for future fantasy writing. But not all races and cultures were discussed in detail in that novel, and so not everything had been updated from working-version to official-version. Part of that updating means changing names, because back when I started I was still using Tolkien’s elvish languages for a lot of name generation. I had produced my own languages (or at least base words) for anything included in Chronomancer, but some things were left on the drawing board, so to speak.
Before I can finalize certain details in this NaNoWriMo project, I’ll have to finalize background information on a few cultures in my Vel Ardon files first.
Another central thing I’m learning to do, and this is a pretty practical approach to any of my projects, is I’m learning to ask myself, “What are the things that can only be done in this project? – Characters, environments, weapons, combat styles – What can I do here that I can’t do anywhere else?” And I’m making sure to include and emphasize those aspects. Make sure that what is unique about the project is what stands out.
It goes without saying that these NaNo projects are unusual in their concept. That’s intentional. I expect my audience to have seen instances of vampires fighting dragons, or goblins fighting werewolves, in portions of other stories, but never as the focal point of the story, and rarely if ever in a post-apocalyptic setting. There are opportunities inherent in these stories that are not inherent anywhere else. I need to take what is unique about them and run with those. It’s a big part of why the goblin culture in Orcs Vs. Wolves ended up the way it did. I took what I knew about orc mentality and applied it to a post-apocalyptic scenario, with very interesting results. For Vampires Vs. Dragons I had to build a whole class-system for vampires to hunt and take down dragons successfully, and that resulted in a whole new version of vampire combat tactics. There are unique opportunities in this year’s project as well. I need to keep an eye out for them, seize them, and emphasize them.
Have you started your NaNo prep yet? Let me know how you’re doing in the comments below! 🙂