Hi, dear bookworms and writers 🙂 Today is the first day of our NaNoWriMo encounter.
Now, few disclaimer notes: no, I’m not actually doing NaNo in the strict sense. But I would love to get this month as an occasion to share my writing, talk about other stuffs I love, discuss in general. Also, a way to research.
Yes, as I wrote I’ll not write, but instead I’ll research. I’ve been lacking and slacking on that side. I don’t know how much I’ll do, but I’m trying. Sometimes I need my time to just relax, to clear my mind, and I’m trying to get the bright side of focusing on concepts and researching, instead of writing.
ME IN THIS NANOWRIMO SESSION, NOT ACTUALLY WRITING
A HISTORY OF WIP
My WIP has a long history of re-writing. During the first month of this year, I was sure to be done. I let some time pass, started to think again, analyze. I looked up at the representation of my characters and realized that I absolutely needed more research.
During this time in which I decided to stop writing, I also took some important decisions. I decided to stop going through the document or I would have passed my time writing down and deleting and re-adjusting things over things. Such choice made room for the questions of being published: doin it in my country or writing in English and research for an agent?
This question is not simply, and not just on terms of passion and dreams. Italy is not a good place for publishing, mostly because… submitting to an agent is not free. And not because they are scammer. It’s just how it’s in my country.
Language played a part, because the more I read in English, the more I realized I found Italian to be a boring heavy language. English was much more direct for me and also made me think of writing phrases in a different way, trying out new way to express myself.
MY MIND AWKARDLY PARTYING UPON REALIZING THINGS
Another important step was getting that heavy cast is probably my thing, but such heavy cast was getting overboard. Creating characters boards helped me to see how some characters were totally undeveloped. Deleting some of them wasn’t as painful as i thought it could have been. It was actually a very good choice, because it helped me to work and fuse some character together, writing them as more completed individuals. It also gave me ideas about their roles, ideas that I found to be great.
Now, its actual history time. First time I wrote down this WIP, I was thirteen. And it was ugly. For a lot of time it remained in a corner, taking dust. Slowly with time, around my sixteen year, I started to re-work on it. And re-work. Again and again. I’ve no idea what I wrote. I don’t remember anymore. But I did it to the point that the WIP had four or three re-writing sessions.
Even the whole world and characters shifted around and around. It started as a half urban fantasy destined to become a fantasy that moved between our world and an invented one. I went on and on working on such concepts, refusing to go to a completely fantasy world because:
- I really liked the contrast of Earth protagonist, designate to face a completely different world
- I was sure I could not write fantasy
Reality? I may be super pedantic and picky on how I write, never good on how I advance. A fellow writer friend jokes on me because she’s says I re-write too much and care about representation too much. Also, writing complete fantasy is my jam. It comes natural to me. I finally feel serene at writing, not like I was advancing into water, or some dense jelly.
Result? Everytime I wrote a different book, also in terms of plots. Finally I found what I was searching for. I know that some authors around will come at me with “maybe this is a sign to drop”. And a part of me agree that this WIP has been a huge dragging around. The other part knows that all I’ve put in this deserve a light.
Yeah, this sounds incredibly narcissist and in pure style of “too much secure arrogant writer”, but I still, I need to see mine. I think that it’s worth giving it at max one another big shot. Nothing stops from writing down another WIP in the meantime, or work on a new concept. So, yes, I guess this my biggest try. Because, if I want to be totally honest, the WIP that is now is totally different WIP from the one of ages ago. Everything is diffrent.
AN INTRODUCTION TO MY WORLD AND ITS THEMES
While the world I built-in my WIP is much more large, this first book is set in single nation, more precisely in a single city inspired by Rome. And no, there’s no Colosseum and no gladiators. Rome is much more that Ancient Rome. I guess is probably a thing only someone who lived in Rome can write down. And the rest of Italy. People usually tend to remember just two or three periods and just three cities: Rome, Florence and Venice.
HELLO STEREOTYPE GIF
So, while I plan to write all my series based in the same planet (and notice I’m not stating nation or a random piece of earth that I can call world) but in different location and times, I think this WIP will be the core and the path to develop the rest of my other project. If I’m ever going to write those. But even if I don’t, is still a good start or a solo lifetime project.
I’m planning to divide this series in two narrative cycles. For sure I’m planning to write down three books, as a first cycle. Then exploring a second part of what will probably be made of two books. I fear I will become some kind of old writer that can’t detach from her character and recycle over and over the same stuff. Time will tell.
Anyway, now the more inspirational facts. As I wrote, the first novel is supposedly set in a single city inspired by Rome. As someone who currently live there and lived the city, I’ve made some particular choices.
First one is that: I’m not going to be inspired by a style set of a precise historical period. What I’m choosing to do, is to make Italian actual reality in a fantasy. Something will be a direct call to what is currently existing, something else to what existed, and many other thing will be shaped directly out of my mind. More than inspiring myself with Italy’s history (Ancient Rome, Medieval times, Renaissance, Risorgimento…) I’m going to write about this Italy and the italian. Especially their “italianity”.
There’s something particular in the street of Rome I doubt I can describe with talking. A mix of light and dark, where stating that things are grey… never solved a thing. If possible, it made it more dark and corrupted, allowing many to go on with their crimes and death of innocent people. As much as the oppression of others.
I’m probably gonna paint a dark place. I will not write down about how much Italian screams, use their hands, kiss with passion. That’s not Italy. Well, okay, it also is but the true core of Italy is much more dark, twisted, ignorant and hateful.
In the end, I’ll let my own memory, what I heard and saw, to shape this fantasy Rome. I’ll let my own experience as an Italian girl to talk. A plain in sight and perfectly hidden Italian girl.
Many places are authobiographical. Some experience too. The WIP’s themes, especially religion, are dear to me. I need to say that I do not paint religion in a good way. More exactly, I will never write down a praise, but I’ll focus on its use, done by great institution (*coff* the Vatican *coff*) and how it’s fused with the greatest problems of Italy. Many and many things get sugar-coated and passed as good, despite the… massive load of shit caused by it.
PERFECT GIF FOR THE OCCASION
WHAT I’M CURRENTLY RESEARCHING
After a bit I noticed how many of my characters needed further research. So I listed down everything related to them: gender, orientation, race… I started to narrow down what was already okay and what needed of further information.
So, I reached the point in which I needed to explore more the cultural background of one character. This led to the creation of a nation, something I’m still doing right now. Since this nation is taking a huge place inside my mind, I’m planning to set there at least one entire book of the second cycle.
For now this is my main research. On the other side, staying away from my novel made me realize what it was missing and need to include more:
- Food || I need to add much more food, both from Lazio and Tuscany. In fact I even added a first new chapter so I can feature more food. This also gave me the way to show a bit more the bond between religious festivities and neighbours.
- Outfits || I definitely need to focus more on people everyday outfits. I’ve chosen to try out a mix between a modern touch, without going away from past era. There’s not much to say, aside from the fact that I definitely tend to go towards an autumn-winter aesthetic. Alexander McQueen outfits, along with Dolce and Gabbana and Valentino works were a great inspiration
- Bones of the saints || Italy has a good number of religious relics and in some places, especially by communities, we have a strong celebration of them. Every year, those supposed relics even have some supposed miracles, like a saint’s blood turning liquid again instead or remaining dust. While I don’t want to focus on this (to be honest I don’t know if I can bother with the creation of saints) for sure I want to add a more macabre tones to my WIP’s churches
- Architecture || I need to work more on the architecture, describing what can be seen inside power’s base, how the fountain are, what to keep and what to let remain. I’ll also use as the interesting fact that we have plenty of magic and mythological reference in our italian buildings, but as soon as we speak of such… be sure some priest will be run around screaming we’re satanic.
- Shallow power || I don’t know how much I’ll work on this, but for sure I want to explore a bit the emptiness of the upper classes in Italy, in a mix of fake culture or too much culture, that for sure is not created to help to poor. At most, it creates a barrier. And a huge mass of decadence.
- Consequence of history || Italian people don’t have short memory, but prefer to feel the victim of everything. They consider themself as the oppressed category against marginalized people, they think that a certain oppressive dictatorship was actually good. They trying to bring it back. Actually, is already here. And I’ve nothing more to say. Just that: that time never left.
THE FIRST THREE CHARACTERS
It’s to show some characters from my WIP. I’ll keep the majority of the details hidden, not because I think that showing their identity is spoiler, but because I want to protect them as my own characters. I’m really reserved because I don’t want to randomly find around some character that really looks like mines, share a really similar name and… oh! Same gender, orientation and much more!
So, yeah, the picture in the board are not at all 100% representative of my own characters, but they may kind be like them.
Second note! All of these three characters are based on real life people. One of them took a path that bring her a bit far away from the person she was inspired from. Another one is a total ownvoices character and the one that remains is strongly based on a real life person I’m close with, and also share some common identities (but not everything), written down in collaboration.
- E. She’s one of the characters that probably came out. I admit that she’s, maybe, one of my greatest fault. For many reasons. At the same time she was my way to represent something that still I’ve to see written down. I think that with her I’ll also tell a lot on how, without an official diagnosis and a society that shame mental condition, everything she feel will be suspended between bein certain and not sure at the same, validate and invalidated. prey of doubts. Also, I think I’ll deal with many other issue. Oh, I was forgetting: she one of those unlikable girls, that if she was an allosexual cisgender man, everyone would love.
- N. Or probably the only ray of light in this trio. I always thought of her as a positive force, where E. was much more dark and R. much more confused and uncertain. And let me be honest, I’m not sure how to define her. One beta of mine says she’s my best characters, a really human and emotional one. I want to trust her on that. That’s probably way she’s right. With time I discovered that with my best characters I never felt the need to talk much. I feel like people are going to like her a lot. I’m working on making her story more her own, and how despite the possibility to escape what was coming, she decided to get into it because of her friends. She will probably be a woman out in the world, searching for peace and protect what she loves, also discovering herself and fully embrace her identity, celebrating it.
- R. She passed from a dear friend to a complete bookish makeover. She’s not anymore the character she wa before. Yet, I’ve decided to keep in her the failure, the pressure, the expectations, the lies of putting on a mask and denying her identity. She’s not a positive character that is bright and shiny. One main word for her would be: fear. She’s a victim of her own world that does bad choices and will have to face consequences. She that kind of daughter shaped too much for her parents and not for herself, living with a constant need of being more and more… but more what?
I got a couple of interesting question by some other bloggers. Those are not related to the WIP, but writing in general. If you have a question about writing or about what you read in this post, I really want you to ask 🙂
I don’t bite and I’ll try to answer as much as I can.
From DB @DB’s Guiden to the Galaxy: Do you outline as you go along or outline fully before you start writing?
In the past I didn’t. But I’m not 100% sure that we have the same concept of outline. I’ve seen some writer listing down as dialogue what would roughly happens, or use a set or references or piece of their chapter.
Instead I prefer to write a mini resume of the events, just for the sake of organizing. Such list may vary from what I actually write. That’s because I let my character take the road on and i really like to write dialogues.
And from Rebecca @A Tale of Two Pages: Writing styles, and of course, where they get their ideas. I get the most random ideas at the most random times. Do you plan your outline, or do you write and see where the plot takes you, then cut and move pieces as needed for the story to fit
Well, I kind answered to a part of this one. On the other one, about inspiration, I’m going to be honest: I’m not one of those writer that see some character in their head and feel the need to write it. My main push is about the world building. I love writing worlds.
Another thing is that I get a massive inspiration, thanks to visuals. I wrote an entire post about how I get inspired by character and environments designs, with How do I create my own characters?
Art but also random pitch I see around work as inspiration. I always think: this concept i really interesting. I think of the element is composed of and sometimes I work on such concepts and see how it could fuse with a story, who this characters are. I tend to write mini individual stories for them and then link all together for building the word and so their stories.
Marianne @November Words asked: Do you make moodboards for your characters?
Well, if you’ve read all this post, you surely noticed I do. At first, I didn’t. I couldn’t see why I should and I wasn’t even that friendly with Pinterest. Maybe indifferent is the right word. Then, one day, I started doing it because seeing all those amazing boards… well, I was envy. Trying it out, I realized how much creating boards can be really useful way to work on what your story is currently lacking, which character is less developed. While you add images, you can also realize that you’re not that invested in such character and it’s the start for figuring a way around it.
ARE DOING THE CLASSIC NANOWRIMO OR TRYING OUT YOUR OWN MADE VERSION? DO YOU THINK NANO MAY NEEDS SOME MORE NICHES FOR PEOPLE WO ARE STILL WORKING ON THEIR NOVEL?
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS WIP? IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE LEAVE THOSE BELOW! I’LL ANSWER THEM IN THE NEXT NANOWRIMO POST