I’ve now put my finger on “what could possibly be a big distraction and keep me from writing in November” and that would be the damned election occurring in the US. I purposely try to keep my overt political views out of this blog, but I also don’t want to disguise the fact that I expect stupid levels of shenanigans to take place between now and until the end of November (at the least), perpetuated by the clown in orange and his cohorts.
At least I’ll see the distraction coming this time around. Ugh. I’ll plan accordingly.
So, I’m trying to come up with a couple of premises to work on for NaNo (the event name shortened for convenience sake). Some of it is revival of ideas that I never took anywhere and combined to make something slightly different. Keep in mind, this is a brainstorm post to gauge reaction (probably mostly crickets, is my guess). I encourage folks to speak up if they see something superduper or terribad in this early stage idea fest.
In thinking about what I’d like to write, I’ve got a couple of past pieces I think I might pull from for ideas. Their original names of the false starts were “Gloamfell” (my aborted NaNo2019 effort), “Mechwolf” and “Drifter”.
I don’t want to rehash all of the larger ideas here, but I’ll go on and identify which concepts are borrowed from those sources when I can and it is applicable.
I think that the environment will be borrowed from the Mechwolf piece I started and didn’t see to completion. In that story, I wanted to play around with the idea of a post-WWI Central/Eastern European feel with, as the name suggests, mecha, Jakub Różalski style (see below for one example). Mecha/mechs are often presented as giant robots or machines controlled by people, if that is not part of your experience.
The appeal of using that region as a template is driven by my own heritage in the Carpathian Mountains (a goodly chunk of my DNA is ethnic Lemko-Rusyn). My great-grandfather immigrated from that area just before all hell broke loose in the events leading up to WWI because he wanted to avoid conscription. Sabers were being rattled in the area and he apparently saw what was soon to come.
While I want to use this as a template for my “world”, I don’t want to delve into alternate histories or get too wrapped up in politics, so it will be a fictional place inspired by history and influenced by games like the board game Scythe and video game series, Valkyria Chronicles.
Also associated with the region, of course, are werewolves and vampires (as well as a bunch of other lesser-known hobgoblins from the region’s folklore). I haven’t decided if I should employ those nasties yet, but it is tempting. Mechwolf was based on that folklore. I imagine you can guess which creature played a prominent role in the planned story by the name.
For now, I think it’ll be just a region inspired by these images and references.
Other Draft Elements
The matter of scenery put behind me, I’ll move on to the What and who of the matter. But first, let me explain the next inspiration, which was the driver for the last NaNo attempt, Gloamfell.
I saw the following picture while I was surfing the net for ideas at the time and it instantly grabbed me.
There are other pieces on the same theme by the artist, but it was this image that got me thinking at the time. I imagined a young girl wandering through a harsh, unforgiving world — one that underestimated just how dangerous she could be. And how those with malign intent might really regret messing with her, thinking she was more defenseless than she was.
In Gloamfell, I had this whole post-apocalyptic thing going on: EMP or solar event knocking out electronics combined with a world-wide pandemic that went from bad to worse as the governments tried to use emergency powers (whoa, this was before Covid-19, interesting…), and it didn’t help that the pandemic made some people lose their marbles and go feral (when they didn’t die outright). Yeah, it was a case of “my zombies are different than your zombies”, but I didn’t want shufflers — I wanted something more along the lines of Firefly reavers; not mindless, only frenzied and violent.
The girl (“Red”) was a “savior” type in the original plot outline. Not so in this iteration, but she will have a significant role in changing the overarching events with whatever bad-ass-ness I give her. Because I definitely imagine she’ll be a bad-ass little twerp.
I think she’ll have a companion, as she did before. A cat named “Wolf”. He talks and chastises her, but only she can hear it. And he kind of blends in with the shadows, so most people can’t see him either. In fact, they think she is imagining her cat companion.
And, I think, I’ll pull in a woman named “Winter” (conceptual image below, unknown artist), another character from the aborted Gloamfell piece from NaNo2019. She’ll think she’s important to keeping “Red” safe, but will find out that the girl in red has a lot more going for her than appearances would suggest.
And now I think I might have found my main character… Winter.
I see the time has slipped through my fingers, so I’ll leave it at this for now and start toying around with plot elements in my next post.