I have just completed my third NaNoWriMo novel in three years. Clocking in at 50,172 words, the fantasty novel that needs a better title than what I have now is done. One of the greatest revelations about NaNoWriMo… I’ve always wanted to write but never had any ideas I liked. Now my head (and Evernote) is filled with them. A few times a week I bark out an idea or two as an audio note on my iPhone into Evernote where they get typed up and categorized and they sit for when I can realize them. But this year I went a different direction. I used to play a lot of Dungeons and Dragons in Junior High through college and a bit afterwards. I played most recently about two years ago and then not again since.
My son is almost old enough to play and I’ve also wanted to get a gaming group together for a once-a-month lose-yourself-for-a-day game. And I got a crazy idea for a campaign I could run while walking Jack to school one day and explaining D&D to him. Out came the iPhone and I recorded the idea and now, 50K words later, I have a rough plot of the story I want to tell. It’s a campaign like nothing I’ve ever seen played before taking traditional fantasy story elements and twisting them a bit. Whether it makes a good novel I do not know. I always think that what I have written us utter crap when I finish it. I only recently went back and looked at last year’s novel and was surprised at how much I liked it. But while I hope to revisit last year’s novel (certainly not 2007’s!) and try to fix it into something I might consider doing something with, this year’s novel is just me fleshing out my campaign idea.
Now in December I will take what I have written, fix the story to make for a better gaming experience (add places for more random encounters, more chances for the players to figure out what is going on, open it up so it can handle them making choices different from those my characters made in the story I wrote) and draw the maps, roll up the big bads, and create the character sheets. “What?!” I hear you say. “Roll characters for your players? That’s blasphemy!” Ah, this is true. But the idea of this story is that our five heroes wake up on the side of a mountain with no idea who they are, no memories whatsoever. Part of the story is their journey of discovery into who they are (and the very nature of what makes an identity in the first place). As such, I create the characters and dole bits of information out to them as they discover their abilities as they go. I hope the gaming group will be willing to let me take them on this ride and that my idea actually works. It could be an epic fail. Or it could be a lot of fun. If nothing else, I really like the story I wrote and even though it was never intended to become an actual novel, it could easily be cleaned up and made into one. Oh, see? I’m already starting to move past that, “I hate this!” stage of my writing. That’s good. Thanks, you helped there by asking all those questions.
Anyway, I’m done and for a few days I will not think about this again as I get back to my real life and do something I have not had time to do in 29 days: pick up a book and read.