The nanowrimo.org website is ready for 2013, so click that link and go sign up for it, already! That’s what I did this morning, and once that was done, it was time to click on the old “Create My Novel” button. And that’s where my problems began.
The creating a novel screen has a sections for Title, Synopsis & Excerpt (though if you have an excerpt before November 1st, you’re cheating. You rebel) and a Dropdown box labeled with the innocuous looking word “Genre.” I’m supposed to know all that stuff already? Before November hits, I tend to flit between ideas over and over so my title & synopsis tend to vary quite a bit. Both are already on their third iteration. It’s genre that tends to be the one that trips me up.
On the surface it seems like a pretty obvious thing to know about your story before it begins, and this year, it kind of is as I’ve decided I’m going to develop one of the stories I mentioned in my 35 days blog entry, specifically this one:
“A dissolute knight is possessed by a century-old sacrificial victim to overthrow a cruel god.”
Looking at the list of genres in the NaNoWriMo drop-down box:
- Chick Lit
- Erotic Fiction
- Historical Fiction
- Horror & Supernatural
- Literary Fiction
- Mainstream Fiction
- Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
- Religious, Spiritual & New Age
- Satire, Humor & Parody
- Science Fiction
- Young Adult & Youth
It seems abundantly clear to me that my story, such as it is, would be considered fantasy. Though I could argue it’s an Adventure story and depending on how heavy I wanted to lean on the possession, sacrifice and evil god parts it could easily lean over into Horror & Supernatural. I’m not exactly sure what the boundaries between the categories are, or what makes something Mainstream Fiction or not.
My non-NaNoWriMo writing seems to run the gamut of many different genres depending on my whims, but I’m never sure what I’m going to write about until I start. The old writer’s maxim is “write what you know” and I guess that makes some sense, but most of what I know and personal experiences aren’t exactly the stuff of awe inspiring legend. I mean, the most exciting thing I did today was get a second slice of pizza and no one’s going to read “The man who didn’t diet: high carbs in low places.” Equally, I don’t think many science fiction or fantasy writers have Narnia style portals to other realms hiding in their closets. (If I’m wrong about that, let me know in the comments.) I guess an addendum is to “write what you read,” by which I’m not advocating plagiarism, just the fairly obvious observation that if you enjoy reading science fiction you will probably enjoy writing it to. There are exceptions to that. For example, I enjoy writing alternate history stories (even if it does mean a lot of research) but I don’t think I’ve really read one since The Two Georges by Richard Dreyfuss & Harry Turtledove which I remember checking out of a library in the mid-1990’s. It’s an odd disconnect.
So why is this year’s entry likely to be fantasy?
A few reasons. Firstly, I really enjoy world-building (I imagine at least one blog entry will touch on that before November…) and fantasy is almost custom built for that. I have a rough skein of story already sketched out that I know can get me beyond 50,000 words relatively easily (I’m thinking of a higher goal this year, but we shall see) and, perhaps most importantly, if I’m making up an entire world from scratch, I don’t have to do as much research and fact checking, which means more of November can be spent cranking out word count without having to check if the college I name checked is in the town I say it is, or the NBA game I’m using as the backdrop to a flashback was played on that date and which teams are involved to name a couple of examples from last year’s superhero conspiracy NaNo novel.
Let me end with the traditional questions:
Why haven’t you signed up for NaNoWriMo yet?
What genre do you prefer to read? Do you prefer to write that genre?
Do you find strict genre delineations stifling?
What genres do you loathe?
And what else should I blog about in this series? I’ve twenty-something entries to fill…