The last few years I’ve been working my way through the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance genre. Like every genre there is a standard set of tropes that tend to occur in these novels. There’s always star-crossed lovers and there’s usually some sort of murder/conspiracy that the squabbling duo will investigate. These tropes were best encapsulated in the meme-generator They Fight Crime!
They Fight Crime! was designed to generate ridiculous storylines that wouldn’t be amiss in some of the trashier novels. Some examples:
“He’s an ungodly zombie paranormal investigator who believes he can never love again. She’s a mistrustful extravagant fairy princess from Mars. They fight crime!”
“He’s a superhumanly strong Amish inventor from the Mississippi delta. She’s a provocative psychic college professor living on borrowed time. They fight crime!”
The original They Fight Crime! website was taken down, but a copy of the possible generated storylines were replicated by Paul Makepeace.
During the summer I had a storyline generated that wasn’t terrible involving hellhounds. I latched onto the idea, joking with friends that it would be a ridiculous, but easy, story I could work on when I ran out of ideas. When last year’s story stalled and short stories were failing me, I needed to start writing again so I used that story and started to work on worldbuilding. By the end of September I had a decent plot outline and 20K written. For the first time, finding character voices came easy, plot lines made sense, overall it was an easy story to plan and write.
After spending October in an aimless haze, I roped a friend into agreeing to complete NaNoWriMo with me. We had a planning weekend at the end of October where we talked out plots, characters and generally tried to be as pretentious as possible.
I started November as a NaNo rebel with the first part of my novel already written, at the end of November I had 72K words and a finished first draft.
What made it simple for me to finish the story is that I had no expectations. There were no highbrow themes hidden in the text, no subsequent novels plotted, it was a standalone piece that I didn’t design to freak me out. I didn’t set myself up for failure.
I worked at a slower pace than last year, I never came close to achieving a 7K day like I did previously. The pace was sustainable and I continued it for the rest of the month. Unlike last year, I also had a continuous support system. Almost every night I would log into Skype with my friend and we’d cheer each other on, look up research questions and quickly provide advice.
Now that November is over I’m distancing myself from what I’ve written. I do editing in small bursts, filling out a detailed plot outline as I go so that I make note of side-characters, timelines and exactly what and where needs to be rewritten.
For now I’m setting myself up for a goal to add another 8K to the word count, I tend to write sparsely when I’m in a hurry so many scenes need a little beefing up. I have two beta-readers locked in for January. I’m trying to keep everything as low-key as I can, the last thing I need to do is psych myself out again this year.
What’s my story about? Well, boiled down to the They Fight Crime! format:
- She’s the overly educated sister of a hellhound trainer. He’s a no-nonsense bodyguard in debt to the local gang. They fight crime! (sort of)
I’ll admit it’s a silly premise but sometimes the best thing to do is embrace the silly. And let’s face it, I’ve read sillier.