With October approaching, the time has come for me to begin planning my next NaNoWriMo project. The rules state that you can work our your plot, work out your character descriptions and research all you like, as long as you don’t start actually writing until November 1st at midnight, so I like to spend October in the planning stages. So far, I have one finished novella from NaNoWriMo (The Christmas Wager) and I’m getting close to wrapping up last year’s project, Murderous Requiem. Obviously, NaNoWriMo is a good way for me to force myself to come up with a new novel every year.
I’m tentatively planning another murder mystery, but since Murderous Requiem breaks the rules of traditional murder mysteries — and its popularity may suffer, as a result — I’m digging up a very traditional mystery I plotted out in college, or possibly even as long ago as High School. A magazine — I think it was Woman’s Day, though I can’t say for certain, and I can’t recall how I even came across it — was sponsoring a murder mystery contest, hosted by Mary Higgins Clark (I think). The only rule I can remember was that it had to include a certain number of clues from a list provided in the magazine, and the only clues I can now recall are a red dress, an answering machine message and…actually, those are the only two I can remember.
I diligently plotted out my mystery, creating a number of characters and a complex plot, but it soon became obvious that my mystery, featuring gay characters, wasn’t particularly suited for Woman’s Day (not in the 1980s, anyway), and was going to end up being too long for the contest, anyway. I was also not really up to writing it, at that time. I started it, but didn’t get very far. It would be decades before I learned how to finish writing projects reliably.
I’ve been searching through boxes in the attic, looking for my original notes, but this may be a lost cause. I know they’re kicking around somewhere, because I’ve stumbled across them several times over the years, and every time I did, I thought to myself, “I should really finish this someday.” They might turn up over the next few weeks, but for now, I’m just going to dredge as much up out of my memory as I can. Chances are, I may come up with better ideas now, anyway. I know the basic idea behind the mystery, but it isn’t the greatest mystery ever conceived. With or without my notes, I’ll need to put some effort into reworking the story, if I don’t want the reader to solve it in the first chapter.
But I’m getting excited about it and NaNoWriMo, in general. I keep poking at the website and tweaking my profile. If I recall, they’ll open the site up for people to enter the basic info about their novel projects at the beginning of October.
In the meantime, I’ve finally worked out an ending for Murderous Requiem, and now I just need to write it. Hopefully, I can get that done in the next week or two. It will require a lot of rewriting, I already know, to fix inconsistencies in the plot and possibly to obscure the solution to the mystery a bit more. It seems far too obvious to me, at the moment. But I’ll just finish it and see what the final result looks like. I still think it’s a fun read, and hopefully others will agree.