Alternative Plots I Considered (Briefly) For NaNoWriMo

Despite my earlier pride, this time at having succeeded in keeping up with the word count for NaNoWriMo for the first two weeks, it seems I have once again celebrated too soon. Thirty thousand words for NaNoWriMo sounds like a lot, but I’m supposed to have thirty five thousand finished by the end of the day, and after my first full day at work in about a year (very enjoyable, and I don’t think I could ask to work alongside nicer people), I do not believe I have the stamina or mental energy to complete them. This will probably place me somewhere between two and three days behind in word count, or else possessed of a word count which has temporarily been inflated by means of a special type of suction pump, but in which all the vessels have been irreversibly damaged so that over time it will go all knobbly and permanently limp and floppy.

Image of a courgette.

You are more than welcome for this mental image.

So with my progress, or rather lack of it, constantly on my mind, I had no alternative but to find a venting place for all the unproductive thinking about writing I was doing. Luckily, I came across my notebook from day one, which was full of all of the alternative plots I considered for NaNoWriMo, that I presumably kept as evidence of what a pretentious arse I can be, and also as evidence of how irredeemably stupid I can be at times. Since they were quickly conceived of and quickly dismissed, they’re a bit more honestly about the kinds of things which I find interesting. Which can be a trifle odd, sometimes, or about things I know nothing about, at other times.

  • A policeman believes his cups to be magic, despite no evidence for this being available. Eventually he goes mad. (underneath this, underscored several times, is written “or doesn’t go mad…hmm?” — god, I irritate myself sometimes)
  • Two Italian American brothers, in the nineteen-sixties, find themselves on divergent paths. One joins the army, while the other gets sucked into a violent life of crime. Potential problem: I know nothing about Italian American culture, the army, or violent lives of crime. Note: is The Godfather based on real events? (I also realised I knew nothing about the sixties, looking back over this)
  • In a future world where certain individuals have acquired the ability, through intense deprivation and training, to manipulate the quantum world with their mind…(this trails off, presumably as I realised that talking about quantum physics in this way would enrage every scientist with half a clue within a fifty mile radius).
  • Goldilocks goes on an adventure with one of the three bears. Note: Which one? Baby bear would be crap, while “Daddy bear” carries uncomfortable sexual overtones. Mummy bear is a bit cutesy-sounding, but will have to do. Goldilocks has a shotgun and is chased by pterodactyls trilobites underwater robots other bears for some reason raisins. Bears love porridge embellishments, y’see?
  • A middle class family in the suburbs is torn apart by the mother’s Note: father’s? refusal to stop smearing his/herself in faeces and wandering about near the shops in the middle of the night. Eventually, in a quest for meaningless symbolism, she is crucified upside down. Meanwhile, unnoticed by the family, wizards do battle in the background throughout the novel.
  • A sentient jet-ski develops the ability to love, but does not develop the ability to recognise when it is tearing through human flesh. Hilarity/tragedy Note: perspective-dependent ensues. Hiladgedy! (I later realised that Hiladgedy would probably not be as good a word for this as several other words that already existed) The jet-ski is eventually hunted down and exploded with extreme prejudice. Its last words are “I oooonly waaaanted to looooove.”
  • A sexy pirate hermaphrodite finds themselves transported through time and space to the twenty-first century, where they learn the ways of modern warfare and become a proficient marksman and soldier of fortune. There are thirty four pages detailing the intimate workings of every gun and explosive in the book, in honour of Andy McNab’s inimitable style. Note: Is it inimitable if I’m imitating it? (The answer is no, but I was being a snidy bastard on paper, which is one of my favourite things to do)
  • A smart, successful career woman finds herself lost without a man in her life. Any men. Because they were all wiped out by a bizarrely specific apocalypse. As were all the other women, who might otherwise have helped her. Also children. Also the career woman was dead all along — classic Shyamalan! Not a ghost, either, just dead.
  • A writer who cannot come up with any good ideas for a novel bludgeons himself to death with a frozen chicken kiev.

Fortunately (both for me, and my housemate’s supply of chicken kievs), mere seconds after writing this I decided on the plot of my novel. It would be a plot I had already wanted to write years in advance, based around Michael Moorcock-style ideas of chaos and law in an urban/post-apocalyptic setting, incorporating the imagery of tarot cards and the Epic of Gilgamesh. If that sounds worse or more boring or especially more pretentious to read than any of the options I tried out briefly first, then, well, you may have a point.

It’s a much more enjoyable novel to actually sit down and write, though. And writing this post helped me remember that. Got to go now…this novel won’t write itself. Or, in the style the word count for NaNoWriMo keeps pushing me to write in, “I must beg permission to leave quite soon, but not literally immediately if I am being honest. I paused for a while, considering my options. They were many, and sparkly, like a tear drop on a sad clown’s wiffle stick. The novel was difficult, to be sure, but it would not complete itself without my aid, on its own, it could not grow arms and use a pen to write a novel, which is to say itself. No, surely not. I would have to roll up my sleeves and write it myself.”

That last bit actually sounds a bit like a stupid and modernised version of Charles Dickens. Which, given that he was churning out sentimental pap for magazines to deadlines and attempting to make inconsequential events last an eternity in order to get the most buck for his severely limited bang, is probably not all that surprising.

You can run to the sea…

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