Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Beautiful Books: NaNoWriMo Plotting Questionare

I came across this...thing (eloquent, I know) while perusing some blogs of fellow writers. Check out what the "thing" is here. Quick summary so you can understand what the rest of this post is about: the blog I linked to above is going to post a list of questions once a month for three months. Each list of questions relates to NaNoWriMo. The first list of questions relates to planning (October); the second, writing (November itself); the third, editing (for December). The object is to get other bloggers to answer the questions and post them, so that the bloggers can get a good handle on their NaNo novels. After posting their answers, the bloggers "link up" on the main page.
So mostly because I couldn't think of much else to post today it will help me with my novel, I decided to participate.

Question #1: What came first: characters or plot idea? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
First off, I am most definitely a plotter. This doesn't seem to be the normal modus operandi of most writers on the internet, but it's how I like it. Second, what do you mean? Character and plots are separable? Usually it comes to me in a package: abnormal main character along with an issue (the start of a plot).

Question #2: Do you have a title and/or a "back cover blurb"?
Yes! I can't seem to get myself to start plotting out an entire novel before I have a title. I need something to call my project apart from "the second book" or "the-one-with-the-villain-main-character-and-the-magicky-world." And I wrote out a synopsis and excerpt-style blurb for my NaNo novel page (which can be found both on my Projects page on this blog or on my NaNo site, which has a button somewhere in the right sidebar).

Question #3: What wordcount are you aiming for when your novel is finished?
Well, I counted my planned chapters and then multiplied that by my average wordcount per chapter for my last novel, Taken (You didn't believe me when I said I'm a planner, did you? Do you believe me now?). I came up with the estimate of 77,000 words. So I suppose that is my goal, though if how things went last time the rough draft will end up quite a bit longer than my estimate.

Question #4: Sum up your novel in three sentences.
First off, let me just point out that that wasn't technically a question (I'm an INTJ, can you tell?). Still, I shall oblige.
A girl is born Destined to murder, and is ostracized for it, but she plows through high school regardless in the hopes that she can beat her Destiny. Her twin brother reveals that he doesn't believe in her; she is subsequently deemed a sorceress for using magic illegally and she runs away from home. Her life spirals into chaos as she tries to get revenge on her brother.

Question #5: Sum up your characters in one word each.
Again, not a question! But this should be an interesting exercise nevertheless.
Mara Harrod: Driven.
Julian "Ace" Harrod: Learning.
Tempe Donoghue: Vengeful.
Gabriel Young: Encouraging.

Question #6: Which character are you most excited to write? Tell us about him!
Well, boy...I don't know. I love all my major characters, because they each have good traits and bad traits and issues. I think they'll all be interesting.
I'll answer Tempe, though. Her character is so darkly intense.

As far as character summary, I'll start by telling you her Myers-Briggs type: ENTJ. Same as me, but extroverted. Honestly, I think that ENTJs have the scariest personality stereotype, but that's just me - other people would probably say INTJ (we do have most of the movie villains).
Tempe is poisoned, I think you could say. She started out at a good spot in life, but when she was sidelined by the Mage League (sort of like a magical law enforcement that deals solely with magical criminals) she grew resentful. Then she fell in love with a sorcerer (someone who uses magic illegally) and was persuaded to betray the Mage League and become a sorceress herself.
As I said before, she is intense. Whatever goal she has in mind is sure to be big, and she'll have a step-by-step plan for getting there, too. She doesn't care what she has to do to achieve her ambitions, and she enjoys exerting control over other people. She'll use her appearance, magic, words - whatever tools are at her disposal. She is an extrovert, though, so she does enjoy being with people. This doesn't necessarily mean she has to be on good relations with those people, though. She'll gain energy arguing with someone while magic flies. However, I will point out that she was genuinely pleased to meet Mara and persuade Mara to illegally learn to use magic. She enjoys the companionship.
Tempe enjoys dramatics, especially in regards to appearance. She's a tall woman, but she emphasizes her height even more by wearing stiletto heel goth boots.She'll swap her outfits between goth ball gowns and bomber jackets with leggings. I presume she enjoys shopping in costume stores.
Last fact about her: she carries a black scorpion that she tamed with magic on her shoulder.

Question #7: What about your villain? Who is he, and what is his goal?
Okay, this is where this project is interesting. My villain is my MC, Mara. Yeah, a villain protagonist. It took me a while to work out the kinks that causes as far as character arc advise.
Mara starts out in the first act as a girl who the world has wronged. However, she is virtuous and idealistic. See, her situation was this; she was born Destined to murder. But she believes that she can ignore her Destiny and live life without ever fulfilling her Destiny, something that the rest of society believes is utter nonsense. Everyone around her either fears her or treats her like dirt. But she holds fast to her beliefs despite the naysayers all around. She even stands up for her twin brother, Julian, who has an awesome Destiny but gets the usual jealousy taunts.

She ends up meeting a disguised Tempe, who persuades her to start learning magic illegally. Eventually Mara grows more and more bitter to the world as she spends more and more time in Tempe's company, everything culminating when Ace (his birth name is Julian, but he prefers to be called Ace - it confuses me since I switch back and forth) reveals that he can be lumped in with the rest of the naysayers. Mara runs away and vows to get revenge on Ace and basically everyone else.

Question #8: What is your protagonist's goal? And what stands in the way?
Okay, remember I said things could get confusing with a villain protagonist? This question is an example. I'll sub out "protagonist" for "hero," since. . .well, you get it. My hero, in my topsy-turvy plot, is my antagonist, Julian "Ace" Harrod, Mara's twin brother.

Basically he comes to the realization that he played a huge part in sending Mara off to villainy-world, and feels guilty about all that since she begins wreaking havoc and mayhem all over the place. Partly because of the guilt, and partly because Mara is after him specifically, Julian (told you I swap around) makes it his personal mission to stop Mara's rampage. Some difficulties he faces in this include the death of...ehem, someone close to him; inferior magical skill compared to Mara herself; inability to locate Mara and Tempe's hideout; and his own arrogance.

Question #9: What inciting incident begins your protagonist's journey?
Another question's meaning twisted by my strange set up of character roles. This time I will take "protagonist" literally, so: Mara.
Inciting incident. Hmm. I suppose it is when Mara truly begins spending a lot of time with Tempe, when she accepts Tempe's offer of learning magic. Tempe begins to influence Mara in some decidedly not good ways, and Mara begins to experiment with using the fear her Destiny creates to get what she wants. All of which lead up to the midpoint, when Mara swears to get revenge on Ace.

Question #10: Where is your novel set?
A tiny fictional town in western Virginia (state subject to change - perhaps to somewhere in the North East) called Creektown (title subject to change). Very small population, very remote location either in or beside the Appalachian mountains. The novel starts in September and moves right up to Christmas, so the weather goes from fall to winter.
Some other settings include the Creektown high school, the Appalachian mountains, and the Harrod household.

Question #11: What are the three big scenes in your novel that change the game completely?
First plot point: Mara agrees to begin illegally learning magic under Tempe's tutelage.
Second plot point: Mara gets into an argument with Ace, accidentally shows off her newly acquired magical talents, swears revenge on Ace, and runs away from home with Tempe.
Third plot point: Mara's bskjdfnorngvgverlgiunevonevsobeoivnesdfn. Can't tell you. Major spoilers. Let's just say it sends Mara into a tailspin.

Question #12: What is the most dynamic relationship your character has? Who else do they come into contact with or become close to during the story?
I presume you mean my main character. *raised eyebrow*
Dynamic? Hmm. Difficult. I don't know about dynamic, but certainly the most crucial relationship Mara has at the beginning of the book is her relationship with her only friend, Gabriel. They met when they were still very young, young enough that Gabriel didn't fully understand the circumstances surrounding Mara's life. Then when he figured everything out, he didn't abandon her like she feared. Instead he showed up at her house with a bar of chocolate and a handful of wildflowers tied with a yellow ribbon (her favorite color) to prove that he had no intentions of going anywhere. Through the years, he has defended her from anyone and everyone, while simultaneously listening to her secret doubts and fears and encouraging her to keep going. Honestly, this sums it all up:

I won't deny that I ship the two of them so. darn. hard. And I'm not usually a sap for romance.
As far as people she grows closer to, the obvious one is Tempe. That woman just about took over the role Gabriel played in Mara's life, except she was a dark influence instead of a light one. Another character I feel like I should mention is the Harrods' golden retriever, Lancelot. Over the course of the story he is separated from Mara and then reunited with her, and she can open up to him like she can to no one else besides Gabriel (we all know we can do that with our pets). But he is also a symbol of changing loyalty throughout the book, which I find interesting. He sort of just nuzzled his way in.

Question #13: How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
Again I'll sub out "protagonist" for "hero," since I already covered Mara pretty thoroughly on this point.
Let me explain this first: Ace is the name I tend to use when I think of his personality in the first portion of the book, while Julian is the name I associate with his personality towards the end of the book. This is partially because as he changes for the better, he starts using his birth name and acting more responsibly in general.
So, I'll talk about the Ace version first.
Ace is arrogant, superior, popular, over-confident, and vain. Not very likable at all. He's the one who sent Mara downhill, the one who is largely responsible for the chaos that ensued.
Julian is who Ace becomes as he works to stop Mara and comes to understand his own role in events. Julian still retains the popularity, but the arrogance changes to confidence, the superiority changes to humility and respect. Essentially, he matures. He accepts that he wasn't a good person and he walks around bearing a lot of guilt for what went down between himself and Mara, and for what happened to a lot of people in the process.
In a more physical sense, Ace/Julian changes from a Apprentice Mage and high school student to a graduated Mage leading his own team in a quest for justice. Pretty sweet.

Question #14: Do you have an ending in mind, or do you plan to see what happens?
I'm an INTJ plotter. What do you think?
I'll admit it took me a while to decide on an ending, but eventually I settled on a version of events that will allow me to write a sequel, which I have a vague idea of plot for but as of yet, no outline. That will come soon enough. ^ ^

Question #15: What are your hopes and dreams for your book? What impressions are you hoping this novel will leave on readers and yourself?
The impression this story idea has made on me is the same one I want it to have on readers. I want this novel to make people realize that, in the words of C. S. Lewis, "Suspicion often creates what it suspects." I hope that Mara's story will make people realize that everything we say and do to others can have a huge impact. People often aren't totally in control of their own lives, both their circumstances and their reactions. Outside influences are a heavy part of how we behave. I want people to realize that we all need to show love and kindness to everyone we meet, no matter how undesirable or unlovable those people may be, because if we're not, we could be a catalyst for something terrible. I don't think many people want to be that; I just hope that reading this will make them realize the importance of how we treat others.


  1. I feel bad for Mara! I hope she gets a happy ending. :) And I wish you success with NaNo!

    1. I know I'm on the right track with Mara, then. :) Thanks!

  2. A villain-ish character as the MC! *hyperventiles*

    This looks awesome :-) Also, Tempe seems super intriguing. I'm a fan already.


    1. Before you know it, everyone will be writing villain MCs and suddenly this will seem cliche. xD But thanks! I'm absolutely dying to write it up.