When In Doubt, Blow Something Up

My temporary reminder of how many words to write each day.

Time for a NaNoWriMo update. My current word count is 21699, which is 1695 words ahead of schedule. I’ve managed to keep up by adding whatever I can think of to the story. In the last few days, the novel has acquired a writing student with a sex obsession, a playwright who lets slip that Action Man helped him with his new play, a writing “superhero” named Point of View who doesn’t actually help with point of view, and a monkey named Tanguy*. Today I put M.T. through another unpleasant writing class, in which her teacher suggests she should think deeper thoughts and otherwise makes her miserable.

But I still feel like not much is happening, and once again, my ideas are thin on the ground. I’ve been getting the feeling it’s time to shake things up. Make some serious trouble for my main character. Either that, or punt kick this boring story out the window and start over. Experienced NaNoWriMo participants will recognize this as the doldrums of Week 2, where the excitement and new-car smell has worn off and suddenly our shiny new story seems dull and lifeless. Pathetic even.

I mentioned my problem to my writing friend Judy. She gave me her screen-writing teacher’s advice: Blow something up.

I resisted at first. My book is not an explosion sort of book, I thought.

Of course, it’s hardly a refined work. How can it be with characters named Action Man and Dialogue Dog, and, of course, a monkey? The one thing I’ve really done so far with this novel is stick like glue to my plan to Keep It Silly.

Still, I thought that my parody of a world where art is so important that medical professionals encourage their daughter to become a painter instead of following in their footsteps isn’t exactly a car-chase, things-blowing-up sort of world. Until I realized that artnappers, who steal famous art works and hold them for ransom, might need to blow up an especially tricky door to get at a well-protected collection.

For the last day I’ve been wondering how to use that single idea of an artnapping, and today I’ve figured it out. I can make M.T.’s strange roommate who just happened to be very interested in the roof of the building next door an artnapper. She can get caught, giving M.T. two huge problems at once. Not only will M.T. be without a roommate and trying to avoid moving in with her pushy parents, but she will also get saddled with the monkey.

Sounds like trouble to me.

*He’s named after the surrealist Yves Tanguy, and his name is pronounced Tawn-gee.

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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

6 thoughts on “When In Doubt, Blow Something Up”

  1. Haha, not participating in NaNo myself, I’m riveted by how people are dealing with the challenge and the bazaar nature of the books that come out of being in a pressure cooker environment of writing a whole novel in a month. This was very interesting, thank you for sharing your experience.

    -Eliabeth

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  2. Yep. Sounds like a fine idea. Things could also blow up on a *small* scale, with large consequences. I.e., just because you’ve blown up ONE thing doesn’t mean you can’t blow up another. Maybe the monkey blows up a coffee maker? Which sets off a chain reaction that. . . . (Can I add those words to MY count, which is way, way behind?)

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  3. Deb, I say yes! There are many people who believe every word written in November counts towards NaNoWriMo. You can find them in the NaNo Rebels threads in the forums. They are bending the rules a little, but NaNo still welcomes them (which one of the reasons I adore NaNoWriMo).

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