Cariad Eccleston

Just a gin-filled dork.

Preptober 2017: Day 5/31

05 October 2017

Alrighty! I’ve had a couple of days to think on my dilemma, and I’ve made my decision.


I’m putting My Challenges as a Queer Female Time Traveller on hold for a couple of months while I take part in NaNoWriMo.

My reasons basically boil down to:

  • I need a break from My Challenges as a Queer Female Time Traveller. I’m utterly stuck in the third act, and some fresh air will help.
  • Actually finishing something will help me to believe that I can do this, and I can finish NaNoWriMo before I can finish My Challenges.
  • I can take advantage of NaNoWriMo motivational messages shared on Twitter, YouTube and blogs.
  • My ego likes me to be a part of something.

Finding my NaNoWriMo story

If there’s one thing I demonstrably suck at, it’s picking writing projects I can handle.

A challenge is great, but every idea I touch just gets bigger and bigger and more complicated and needs more research and more and more and more and shit.

I had a think about genres I could write in without needing to read up on engineering principles or scientific theory.

Romance. There we go. I can do that. I’ll write a romance novel.

Queer romance. Obviously.

But it still needed a dash of secret sauce. What could I do to make it weird?

I made a list of the types of characters you’d find in my prime genre: science-fiction. Time-travellers, astronauts, aliens, and so on.

None of them did anything for me.

So then I tried out some paranormal ideas. A werewolf romance? Nah. Vampires? Not for me. Ghosts? Meh.

Of all of them, I gravitated towards ghost romance. It felt weird enough to be interesting, and there were a few avenues to go down.

So then I started thinking about the least-obvious places to find a ghost. Y’know, to make it weird.

The first location I wrote down was “The International Space Station”. It was the only location I wrote down. Too perfect!

So, there’s the story seed: A queer romance between an astronaut and a ghost on the International Space Station.

But where’s the story? I started listing out the questions I’d need to answer:

  • How does a ghost get aboard the International Space Station?
  • Can I do this without going down the morbid path of killing an astronaut?
  • How would you keep a romance with a ghost a secret within a tribe as tight-knit as the crew of the International Space Station?
  • What non-obvious conflict could drive the romance?
  • How can I make this as light-hearted as it obviously needs to be?

Well folks, I don’t want to give too much away, but – holy cow! – those questions lead me down some awesome paths, and I’ve got a top-to-tail summary which I adore.

Here’s the spoiler-free synopsis I’m working on so far:

After a burial in space goes wrong, a scientist aboard the International Space Station is visited by the ghost of the deceased.

She tries — and fails — to keep her encounter a secret from the rest of the crew. When the truth is revealed, it leads to the unveiling of a world she never knew existed, and risks the end of the world that she does.

Obviously, it needs to be re-written to focus more on the romance than the danger or thriller aspects, but that’s the snippet I’m sharing right now.

And the working title for the novel is “Astromagi”, but it ain’t gonna stick.

The Plan for Preptober

With a bit of lenient rounding, there are three weeks left until NaNoWriMo kicks off. That gives me three weeks to get a handle on the characters and outline the plot.

Oh, and to the folks who say outlining before November is cheating: we’re never going to agree on that. By that same logic, I imagine you’d expect the novel to be proof-read, edited and publishable all within November too? Nah, mate. Nah. November is about word count, plain and simple, It’s about getting the first draft out of your head and onto paper; nothing more, nothing less. But don’t just take my word for it:

“Outlines, character sketches, and other planning steps are encouraged.” NaNoWriMo FAQs: “Do I have to start my novel from scratch on the first of the month? Can I use an outline?”

So, I need to plan for writing 50,000 words in November, I’m going to guesstimate 1,000 words per scene, so I’m going for an outline with 50 scenes. 12 scenes in the first act, 25 scenes in the second, and 13 scenes in the third.

Outlining 50 scenes in 3 weeks doesn’t divide nicely at all, so I’ll include the remainder of this week and go for a Preptober plan like this:

  • By Sunday 8th October: 2 scenes outlined and ready for first draft.
  • By Sunday 15th October: 18 scenes outlined and ready for first draft.
  • By Sunday 22nd October: 34 scenes outlined and ready for first draft.
  • By Sunday 29th October: 50 scenes outlined and ready for first draft.

If I can stick to this plan, I’ll be ready to start hammering out words on November 1st!