It’s time once again to prepare for a NaNo… so the Writer, her Muse, and assorted new fictives are banding together to hash out a world and a story!
This MuseFic romp is used to brainstorm and outline for the July Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) event. As with past prequels, the story and settings dreamed up here may fall apart on Day 1… but someday I’ll make it from Pantser to Planner! 😉
The faux-living room was starting to look almost civilized as the Writer scurried about getting things set up for the coming Camp NaNoWriMo.
She’d cleaned the endless whiteboard, dusted off the comfy chairs and the semi-sentient interdimensional sofa, and was in the process of straightening up the writing desk. It was a small hurricane of imaginary spring cleaning and good intentions.
Half the fun of NaNo was clearing out the old and printing out the new! Checklists, coloring pages, word sprint goal charts… the resulting bullet journal pages were messy, but colorful.
The plot dragon had relocated his plot bunny hoard to under a newly created coffee table and was grumpily eyeing his old nest under the desk. The bunnies were less annoyed by the move, having the attention span of drunken hamsters, and kept wandering off to explore.
This vexed the dragon.
“Hey!” the Writer objected as he toasted her ankles. “Look, you can move back in a minute, I just need to get all this stuff out of the way.” She scooped another armload of old story notes off the desk.
“Ah, so we’re starting fresh? Again?” The Muse wandered into the living room with a few formless fictives following her. “I found these guys out in the mists so I had a feeling that’s where we were headed.”
The fictives were still only shadows of characters without enough personality or purpose to take any solid form. Still, they were polite enough wave hello as they explored the room and played with the plot bunnies.
“Yup, something urban fantasy this time, I’m itching for a less complicated than any of the current settings.” The Writer stepped back from the cleaned writing desk with a happy sigh. “And there, now I have a clean desk to go with a clean world!”
“So if we’re urban fantasy, does that mean like Supernatural or Buffy?” asked the most transparent of the new ficitives. “Or something more superhero-themed?”
“Or more of an alternate reality, like steampunk– which I guess would make it spellpunk?” Another fictive was playing with one of the more sparkly bunnies. “One where magic isn’t hidden away, but out in the open.”
“And if it’s not a murder-of-the-week sort of thing, what sort of plots do we get?” The last fictive was eyeing a tussle of rather violent bunnies with annoyance. “I want something less… stressful than dragons or river monsters.”
“Well, we’re aiming for something along the size of a long short story again,” said the Writer. “So it just has to be a single event in someone’s life. What are good non-violent things?”
“Big life events are births, deaths, graduations,” said the first fictive thoughtfully. “Heck, you could just pick off the list of ‘significant life events’ list from the stress lists.” There was a pause. “Just pick nice ones.”
“Marriage is the highest on the list,” noted the Muse, who was already getting out the whiteboard markers. “So we could do a short story about a wedding day.”
“Only with magic!” The second fictive held up the sparkling plot bunny hopefully.
“So we have a wedding with something going wrong, because it’s not a story otherwise,” said the last fictive who was beginning to solidify into a more analytical character. “If we’re going with fantasy than that aspect has to have some integral to do with it– otherwise there’s no point in using the genre.”
“Let’s set the POV as someone outside the main wedding group,” said the Writer. “So a friend, close-ish relative, maybe someone that’s part of organizing things?”
“I call childhood friend!” said the second fictive, who solidified into someone whose family had been friends with the bride or groom, but who had personally had grown apart a little over the years.
“Cousin,” said the analytical fictive as he borrowed a whiteboard pen from the Muse and they started sketching out all the things that could go wrong.
“Some sort of warm-body employee,” said the first fictive. He was turning into one of the few retail people who actually enjoyed their job and interacting with the public, but with a bit of a surfer bro feel. “I really want to have this happening at a zoo or something, I love animals.”
“It could always be a barn wedding, barns are trendy, right?” The childhood friend was starting to collect a small pack of magical bunnies. She was trying out all the various powers they offered, but nothing seemed a good match. “But it’s magic, right? So should we be out in a forest or at the beach? Someplace closer to nature?”
“It could be an orchard or a vineyard, or it could be a smaller sheep or goat farm,” offered the Writer. “Something small, but slightly out of the way. Picturesque for weddings, but still a viable business in the off-season.”
“They could be breeding magic herding dogs,” the Muse said as she doodled low mountain views. “The Fae have magic hunting dogs, so why not herding?”
There was a pause as they all considered what kind of livestock would require magical herd dogs.
A long pause.
“Magic aside, let’s outline the story beats,” said the cousin-fictive as the story mists started to churn menacingly around them. He waved his whiteboard marker at the friend-fictive and her pile of plot bunnies. “If we want our story to be one of the few that actually gets finished… we need to plan.”
“So, we start in the middle of the wedding when things are already going wrong.” He drew a line angled sharply upwards that turned around and abruptly plunged down, but not all the way. “The something massive goes wrong that could ruin the whole wedding. We prevent it and the wedding is successful. All three actions should be related to each other, so there’s nothing out of left field. I hate twists.” He gave the Writer a stern look.
“So let’s say we have five posts in the story, each one about a thousand words long,” the Writer decided. “It looks like 5k is a decent length for most markets. Not that this will ever see traditional publication since I’m posting everything to the blog.”
“Yup, that it totally the reason,” the Muse agreed, rolling her eyes. She marked out the posts along the line the cousin-fictive had drawn. “So, posts 1-3 are the build up, 4 is the climax, and 5 is the resolution? Or build up until 5 and then down.”
“Up until 5,” said the employee-fictive, “the resolution is the boring bits, we don’t need to see it.”
“So we start out with things getting bad and then we go down the rabbit hole a bit further each time.” The Writer eyed the board. “That means we need at least four bad things that can lead into each other and a bunch of solutions that just really make the problem worse.”
“And to figure that out,we’re going to need to worldbuild…” She rolled up her sleeves and they all got to work.