Well, I’m now two-fifths of the way through my National Novel Writing Month project, with the elemental theme of “Fire” under my belt. Let’s see how we did:
- StoryBreakers, a very thinly-veiled
theft ofhomage to MythBusters. In this episode, Alan and Johnny find out what happens when you set off a blast that tears through the fabric of reality to release a very angry Elder God.
- A New Star, part one and part two, a tale of the far, far future where intelligent life huddles around red dwarf stars, the last remaining sources of energy in a dying cosmos.
- A Reason to Burn, a story about a man with the power to control fire, but who uses it to create and protect. What happens when he meets a man who uses the same power to destroy?
- Carl’s Dragon, a story based on Carl Sagan’s famous “Dragon in My Garage” essay. Young Carl Stockman wants to convince his new friend Annie that he has a dragon. She’s skeptical, and for good reason. But perhaps too skeptical…
- The Good Guy Bomber, a story about a man who loves more than anything else to blow things up. People included. Fortunately, he only blows up the bad guys, but it’ll be a little difficult to convince the world that’s what he’s up to this time.
This felt like a harder section to do than Water was. Perhaps it’s because some of that initial momentum wore off, or my own inherent laziness started to creep back in again. Either way, coming up with ideas seemed to take more effort this time around. The seed for The Good Guy Bomber didn’t hit me until very late in the day, and all I had was a picture of an angry older man stripping wires in his basement. It shows in the word count, too – I wrote about 4,000 words less in this section than in Water, and tonight’s story was the first time I came in under that magical 1,667 word count.
Why should this be? I honestly have no idea. I was a little surprised, too, because as the classical elements go, I have the greatest fondness for fire. Not that I’m going to start burning things, but it’s the most interesting to me, and when I was a kid, imagining I had super powers , fire was tops on my list. In fact, one of the first long stories I ever wrote was about a kid who gained the power to control fire. I have no idea where that story is right now, either. I imagine reading it would be a combination of nostalgia, stabbing pain, and gratitude that I have become a better writer since then.
Anyway, there were some parts that I liked about this section. I loved doing Carl’s Dragon, mainly because Carl Sagan is one of my favorite people ever. I like to think he’d read that and get a kick out of it. And while I was really enthralled with the concept behind A New Star, the execution was torturous. Maybe because it was on such a large scale or because it had so many possibilities for exploration in it that I couldn’t really pull the trigger and go all the way. Of all the stories I’ve done for NaNo so far, this is the first that I can really imagine being stretched out to novel-length someday. With a few little changes, of course.
And StoryBreakers was just downright silly. I love MythBusters to death, even if I do think they’ve become a bit too explodey-centric in the last few seasons. Taking the characters of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman and just stretching them out was a lot of fun. Plus, it generate one of my favorite lines of dialogue so far: “Banishing an elder god in ThreeTwoOneGO!”
I can so totally imagine Adam Savage doing that.
In any case, my self-monitoring continues. I’m still trying to get an early start on writing whenever possible, and coming up with as many story ideas as I can so as to keep the creativity flowing. I think one of the things that blocked me a little with Fire was that I kept trying to find Meaning in it. I asked myself what fire Represents, what it Symbolizes, and perhaps that’s what hung me up on some of these stories. Instead of just writing the damn thing, I was trying to process what it Meant.We’ll see how the next section goes: Earth. I doubt I’ll stop trying to overthink things, really. There are some low-hanging fruits there, but I’ll see if I can’t spin out something more symbolic and important-sounding while I’m at it. In any case, right now my NaNo count is 32,854 words, at an average of 2,737 per story. At this rate, I’ll hit 50,000 by the 18th, which is awesome. I’ll keep going though, don’t worry about that…
 Which, of course, I never do nowadays. Of course. Never.