NaNoWriMo 2018

I have been enamored with the idea of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) since I first heard about it. I do not remember the first time I attempted doing it, but it has been going on 6 years that I have made an attempt each year, and hopefully this year will be more successful than in the past.

Part of the reason for my optimism is that I am finally finished with school. It only took 10 years for me to finish my undergrad, but hey, that’s life right? I ultimately learned more from the time I spent working in the industry, but it is a relief to be done in any case.

Another reason that I think this year will be different is because I have been doing a lot of prep for various role-playing games that I have wanted to run. In particular, I have really been digging the setting from Stars Without Number, and so, in order to ease some of the world-building load for this particular novel attempt, I am accepting that I should start off with some pseudo fan fiction. The setting is pretty much perfect for this purpose, since designing a universe for a tabletop roleplaying game needs some implied setting that gets the players on the same level as the game master, but also gives everyone enough creative space to flesh out their own stories within that universe. There is a common joke in the RPG community that many game masters/dungeon masters/masters of ceremony/etc are simply frustrated authors looking for an outlet for their creative energies, so I am going to lean into being the butt of that joke.

While I do not have a ton of novel-specific prep completed at this point, I do have a fairly fleshed out collection of systems and planets with some interesting factions running around and scheming against each other. I have had some significant help from the excellent Sectors Without Number utility which automatically generates a sector using the game’s sector generation tables. Also, the game’s faction turn rules help to keep track of the larger organizations and movements within and between systems, which is great for understanding the motivations of faction members and inspiring some spicy action in the story. If you are unsure what I mean, then perhaps you should check out the streams for RollPlay: Far Verona and the accompanying faction turns.

Additionally, it is amazing how much daydreaming about names can provide the kernel for much larger swaths of the world and how the characters think about their situations. It seems almost silly that something as seemingly inconsequential as a single first name can generate so much creative potential. When I have needed some inspiration, I have been using Behind the Name’s random name generator. Even if I do not always use the names that I happen upon, riffing off of my preconceived notions of particular names in a setting that is quite alien has been a rewarding exercise.

Finally, I think my (albeit infrequent) blogging has started to get me back into the mode of writing more regularly. I really feel guilty when I go for a month without a post, and I need all the motivation that I can get in order to make it to 50,000 words in 30 days. I will say that my writing workflow is now a bit more… refined? than perhaps the first few times that I tried. In particular, I am becoming much more efficient at writing in markdown, and as always I have a deep affection for vim. Perhaps someday I will actually properly tackle Colemak. The Napervile NaNoWriMo Wiki has a great guide for using vim as a novel writing tool, and since I spend a good 75% of my day job in vim, it seems like a logical choice for me.

Well, that is enough rambling for this evening/early morning. Look forward to more novel updates. Or maybe me finally fixing my Hugo template. Someday.