15 Questions About Preparing for NaNoWriMo

Okay, so I found out about this really cool thing called Beautiful Books, and I figured I’d give it a shot. If you aren’t already aware of Beautiful Books, you can check them out through the awesome button they provided above. Pretty much, it boils down to a questionnaire that revolves around NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is this event in November where you’re challenged to write 50,000 words in 30 days. If you’ve been following my blog, you know full well that I’ve spent a lot of time preparing for the start of the event, November 1st. Pretty much, Beautiful Books is going to be set up as a series of three questionnaires: one for prepping in October, one for writing during November, and another one for revising in December. I figured this would be a good way for me to talk about Brave Albion with a little more focus, since I tend to have a habit of rambling about my process. I know, I know, I’m working on it. Also, thanks goes to Allie for making me aware of Beautiful Books through her blog, Little Birdie Books. Be sure to give her website a look and see what book she has planned for NaNoWriMo this year. Here’s a hint: it’s got ghosts.

The Questions

What came first: characters or plot idea? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

That’s a really good question, because the answer is a little hazy. Sometimes I’m a plotter, sometimes I’m not. I know, I know, that doesn’t help very much. As far as character or plots, I guess you can say both. I had a basic idea of who I wanted for a character from the beginning. It started with these two words that I developed into my character, Áine. And since I knew that Áine’s great struggle was the fact that she loved to read, but had to keep it a secret, I knew a little bit about the plot. I like to have a general outline, but most of my planning is just character development. I figure that if the character is strong enough, they’ll let me know where the plot should go. We’ll see if I know my characters well enough starting in November.

Do you have a title and/or a “back-cover-blurb”?

Yes, I do have a title. I’m always referring to the story as the world of “Brave Albion” (thus my username & the name of this blog), but the first book is going to be titled Brave Historia. And I do have a back-cover-blurb, but it’ll probably change a few dozen times before I release the first novel. Here’s what I have so far:

Áine loves to read. Her remarkable memory has allowed her to remember every word she’s ever read. But it’s dangerous to love books in a world where only the nobility are allowed to own them and any other literate person is forced to become a Librarian: bookhunters tasked with tracking down the rarest novels known as historias. As the daughter of a Librarian, she knows full well the dangers of someone finding out that she can read.

But one day, as her father delivers a strange, untitled historia on what appears to be a routine assignment, she suddenly loses hours of her time in an instant. All just after reading the book’s first few lines.Áine’s curiosity sets her on a path of secrets and riddles, shady allegiances and ancient stories. A path where nothing is as it seems. With the help of her kleptomaniac brother she’ll set out to discover the truth: of the book, the nature of magic, and herself.

What wordcount are you aiming for when your novel is finished?

50,000 words isn’t too much of a challenge, and considering the relatively small size of novels with that many words, I’m aiming for close to 100,000. Give or take a few thousand. The story will be finished when it wants to be finished. It may be 80,000 words; it may be 150,000 words (please god, no). We’ll just have to see when it’s finished, now won’t we?

Sum up your novel in 3 sentences.

Girl who loves to read is forbidden by the nobility.

Girl starts having weird things happen after reading an old book.

Girl gets in a lot of trouble and tries to fix everything.

Sum up your characters in one word each.

Áine ~ curious

Devlin ~ kleptomaniac

Allister ~ enigmatic

Lord Caladon ~ gracious

Lord Remington ~ intelligent

Mar ~ determined

Aislin ~ liar

Which character are you most excited to write? Tell us about them!

It’s Áine, of course! I’ve spent the last month trying to get to know this girl, and trust me, it wasn’t easy. It was a week before I could even get to the point where I could hear her talk. To me, she’s become the very representation of bravery. She’s a dreamer, which is a dangerous thing in a world like her own. She lives in a world where the ability to read is a crime in and of itself. Where you have to earn the right to literacy. And as if in anticipation of this, in knowing how precious each word truly was, she has the uncanny ability to remember everything she’s ever read. Like a mental library, she can browse all the books she’s ever laid eyes on. This mental library is her safe haven; it’s the place where she can dream and question without fear of losing her freedom. But what is freedom if you can’t dream and question?

What about your villain? Who is he, what is his goal?

The villain is a little more complicated; in the beginning she’s her own villain. Sure, the system that makes the nobility the only people allowed to own books is a villain. The empire who enforces it may seem the villain. But the first book isn’t about any of that. It’s about who she is, and about taking responsibility for your actions. She is her own worse enemy, and if she can’t conquer her own fears, she has no hope of conquering any terrible villain. Not that she won’t have some people to act as antagonists. Lord Remington is one of those antagonists, but I wouldn’t necessarily call him a villain.

What is your protagonist’s goal? And what stands in the way?

Her goal – at least, her greatest desire – is to write her own novel. Her own great tale, worthy of the historias all around her. Of course, the very  nature of the world stands against her. If she reveals the fact that she can write (and by default, that she can read), then she risks being pulled away from her family and thrown into a dangerous world with no one to help her. And without the love of those she cares for. Having lost her mother at a young age, she knows all too well the void that is left in the wake of a loved one who can never return. So, in a way, her greatest fear and her greatest desire are in constant struggle with each other.

What inciting incident begins your protagonist’s journey?

Áine has the ability to memorize every word she has ever read. This only seems to work for written words, and not for other things. She doesn’t remember every conversation or every event. Just books. But that all changes the day she reads a particular book her father is delivering to Lord Caladon. Not only can she not remember a single word from the book, but soon after strange things start occurring in her life. She quickly makes a decision that she needs to see that book once more. There’s only one problem: it’s locked away in the well guarded library of Lord Caladon’s manor.

Where is your novel set?

It’s set in the fictional world of Libris. The country is ruled by an Emperor, who keeps the many noble families from destroying each other thanks to his elite Archivists and the system of laws that he developed. In this world there are thousands of ancient, dangerous ruins scattered across the landscape. These ruins are the remnants of a long destroyed Library. A library that had once spanned the area of an entire country. The authors of these ancient books are forgotten, but their stories live on. However, the ability to read is a closely guarded talent; most of the common folk are illiterate, and over the centuries have developed their own myths and legends concerning the nature of these books.

What are three big scenes in your novel that change the game completely?

Girl reads book, but wakes up with no memory of it.

Girl attempts to steal book.

Girl fixes the mess she’s made.

What is the most dynamic relationship your character has? Who else do they come in contact with or become close to during the story?

Well, I’d have to say that there are three really important relationships in the first novel. I can’t vouch for the second one, I haven’t gotten that far. The first important relationship would be the one with her brother. He’s stated as being a bit of a klepto, but he’s a really good kid and Áine’s best friend. Though, they do have their disagreements. Family is family, though. The second one would be the relationship she has with her father. The nature of his job has always been something she’s disliked. He’s the very thing that he is constantly trying to protect her from becoming: a Librarian. In this world Librarians track down books for the nobility, and are usually assigned to a specific House. They got lucky with her father being assigned to Lord Caladon, who is a very kind-hearted man. Her father, Allister, usually just oversees book trades between Lord Caladon and other nobles, traveling far away to pick up whatever historia the noble has purchased. On these trips, he often takes his children with him, so they can have the opportunity to read the book during the trip, before turning it in to Lord Caladon. But, he’s also had to fight to protect some of these books, and has even turned people in for owning them when they shouldn’t. He’s confiscated forgeries from Peddlers and detained people who were found to have a true historia (which is luckily very rare, as most people simply have forged copies, which are useless and not as bad of a crime). Later on in the story, the nature of her father’s work becomes a sore point in their relationship. The third relationship that is important doesn’t come around until midway through the first book. This is Lord Remington. I don’t want to reveal too much about that relationship, but he is the main “antagonist” of the first novel, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy or a villain. That’s all I can say.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

She becomes more sure of herself, more confident in her own abilities and in who she really is. The transformation isn’t anywhere near complete, though. She still has a lot to learn by the end of the first novel, which is why the story will take place over several more.

Do you have an ending in mind, or do you plan to see what happens?

I have an ending in mind. Sort of. At least, I have one in mind for the first novel. The rest of it is still a little up in the air.

What are your hopes and dreams for your book? What impressions are you hoping this novel will leave on your readers and yourself?

I’m hoping that I can get this novel into as many hands as possible. My goal is that through it, I can show people the value of reading; not just in our personal lives, but in our culture. I want to draw young readers towards some of the classics that might otherwise intimidate them, as well.

And, of course, I’d love for this book to sell so I can focus more time and energy on writing the sequels. If someone walks away from this story feeling like their life is richer for it, than I will be pleased.

Alrighty! That’s the basics of it. And with far less rambling than usual. I bet you’re all very proud of me. ^_^ Feel free to drop a message in the comments, contact me through twitter, or whatever. I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on it. And thanks again, Allie, for making me aware of Beautiful Books!