November is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel in a single month. You may not start wrting the novel itself before November 1st, and you must be done before December 1st.

I’ve had weeks and weeks to prepare something for a novel, and I’ve really done nothing with it. I’ve had a few passing ideas. My first idea was to rewrite Sleeping Beauty.

In Sleeping Beauty, if you recall from the Disney film, Princess Aurora is boen and betrothed to Prince Phillip of the neighboring kingdom. An “evil” witch casts a spell on her because she was not invited to the birth celebration, cursing to prick her finger on a spinning wheel (huh?) and die on her 16th birthday. The good fairies protect Aurora as best they can, and hide her away so that the witch can’t find her to make the curse come true. Certain things happen that cause Prince Phillip to need to save the day.

What I was thinking about was how to translate this into a modern tale. These days people aren’t betrothed to anyone at birth. So it would be difficult to translate. I had some interesting twists to add to the story. What happens during those sixteen years that Briar Rose is stuck in that cottage inteh woods? What does she learn of her destiny?

But I don’t want to rewrite the original in the same setting, so I’ll need another idea.

Something else I was thinking about was writing a kind of action story. I have a couple of characters in mind, but I really don’t have anything for them to do.

One of the suggestions that the NaNoWriMo book gives for coming up with a novel idea is to re-tell another book or movie, since there isn’t anything new under the sun. So in thinking about what action movie I could rewrite and use these characters, I came across a Harrison Ford movie that I liked.

Frantic is a story of a doctor (Harrison Ford’s character) whose wife goes missing while they’re on a trip in France. The mysterious circumstances of her kidnapping lead him to strange places in order to get her back. We teams up with a french girl he doesn’t know (and who has her own problems) to try to find his wife.

I guess my worry with this story is that I wouldn’t write it as well. I mean, I see the advantage of using movies and other stories to build something new, but I’d want to change some stuff enough to make the story mine, and I think I’d ruin it.

I’ve toyed with the idea of combining a couple of stories. For example, combining the Sleeping Beauty idea with the Frantic idea. This makes more sense if I reveal that I had considered using a hooker instead of Aurora, and turned Harrison Ford into an international spy. See? I told you that I’d mess it up.

I keep thinking that I want to avoid the supernatural. Many of the stories I’ve considered “converting” have supernatural elements that don’t really fit the kind of story I thought I’d like to write. But maybe since so many of the stories have supernatural elements, I ought to just embrace that concept.

A great idea might be to continue with my Sundown setting. Sundown, if you’re not up on Asymptomatic history, is a story that I wrote a while back. It’s based in a town called Sundown around a university, and paranormal things happen there. More than a story, it was a game. Every week, people would send “turns” in via email, telling me what their characters would do and how they would act. I would roll all of those turns together and produce prose which became the story, which I sent out to each player.

The trick with Sundown is that it’s always been more about the story. Of the characters in the story, none of them were the “main character”, so it’s hard to choose a single one to focus on. And even if I kept the idea of not having any main character, I still have a troupe of characters to manage, all of whom had typically stayed together in one place before. They didn’t wander off and do their own things like they would in a book.

Really, I think that I’m going to need more than one storyline just to generate enough leads for a 50,000-word book.

Sundown probably provides the best start. We had always talked about doing a “how they met” story, and this seems like a good opportunity to introduce the characters and present a good tale.

I’ll have to come up with some kind of situation to put them in though, so they have something to do. This will involve coming up with the ending first. I’m terrible at endings. I’m oddly good at getting the characters embroiled in some fiasco - playing Twister on a sheet of particle board floating on a vat of boiling acid - but I always seem to fall apart when it comes time to write the end. I would need an outline before I even got started.

Incidentally, a 50,000-word novel will require that I write something twice as long as this post every day for the entire month of November. And with a few distractions interrupting, it’s taken about an hour to write this. Just to give you an idea of the scope.