Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's That Time of Year Again

Well I went ahead once more and signed up:

Come November (next week!!!) I've committed myself to tapping out 1667 words of a novel each and every day for 30 days. Yikes!

It's been a while since I've done a serious chunk of writing and the ideas are flying around in my brain. Using NaNoWriMo as the impetus (cough*excuse*cough) to generate an actual draft of something might be fun.

Then again, in the two years I've done NaNo I've discovered that, for me, the difference between actually constructing something that works vs. nothing more than a series of gags is an outline. Not just a general sense of what I want to do, but something with enough detail so I actually know where it starts and where it ends. I've found that if I have those two things I can dance around all day getting from one to the other.

So here's the plan: My current WIP, 40,000 words strong, is on the back burner, per NaNo rules. If I get around to outlining one of my three main ideas THIS WEEKEND, that's the novel I'll do. If not, I'll do a series of essays on the ridiculousness of life, call them chapters, title it "WTF", self-pub it and sell it to my patients, many of whom bought my first two books and have been asking when my next will be available.

(Here are the three ideas, btw. Feel free to offer feedback, though if my muse doesn't listen to me I have no idea why she'd listen to you:)
  1. "The Phlebotomist": FP whose life falls apart and decides to chuck it all. She throws some clothes and stuff in her car and leaves her life behind, starting over in a small town where she gets a job drawing blood, living simply, hand to mouth. Since she's still a doc even though she doesn't admit it, she's very good and gets offered a job at a local FP group practice, where she falls for the widowed senior partner. They end up together in an O. Henry ending. (Theme: triumphing over materialism.)
  2. "Gunner" (hate the title; needs a better one): Two medical students, one a clean-cut, hunky blond Ivy Leaguer; the other a biker dude in all his full tattoo'd, bearded, stringy-haired glory. One brilliant, understanding, using his strength to protect and nurture; the other the ultimate horse's ass; bright enough only to steal from others and blame his own failings on them. Guess which is which. Told in first person from the POV of others they deal with as they go through med school. (Theme: not judging a book by its cover.)
  3. (no title) Allegory of 9/11 and the Iraq war, an alternate/future history casting the US in the role of Iraq as an intolerant nation (taken over with "Christian Nation" rhetoric) governed by a psychotic demagogue, and the Chinese in the role of the US as the sole global superpower dependent on the US for its food (vs. oil.) Russian terrorists attack China 9/11-style; China blames the US, invades in a pre-emptive war, finds and executes the psychotic demagogue, but ends up inciting civil war. (Only problem with this one is that I can't figure out an ending.)
Wish me luck.


At Sat Oct 27, 03:15:00 PM, Blogger tk said...

Hmmmmm, tough choices . . . I'd go with the 9/11 allegory.

I'm working on my outline as well--I didn't do so well last year. This year I'm committed, but it's going to be a pile of crap because I really don't know what the hell I'm doing. I'm starting the two year novel thing after my next pay period . . .

(damn word verification . . . I am too a human)

At Sat Oct 27, 03:44:00 PM, Blogger Lynn Price said...

First off, Dino, major kudos to you for making a commitment. It's very tough to do. Okay, putting on my editor's hat:
Idea Number 1: I like where this is headed, but it needs tension. Where's your conflict? You've set up a good foundation, but your MC needs to face losing something, and losing it big. That's what keeps us turning the pages. You've already pulled the wind out those sails by already having her ditch her practice for the simpler (and anon life) by being a blood drawer.

Personally, I think you have a very cool story in what happens before this current story; what led up to her leaving her practice in the first place. That's where your tension is. If you wanted to turn it into a series, this current idea could be Book 2. But you need to have something in the plot that creates tension. As written, this feels like a wandering, soul-searching journey. Those can be good, but there needs to be more to this story.

Idea Number 2: I'm not getting a sense of where this story is going. You've outlined your MCs, but there's no plot. Give us a plot.

Idea Number 3: Hooo...biting off a huge chunk here. This requires a ton of research in order to keep the story viable. I see this as a Harry Turtledove type, yes?

Good luck to you with NaNoWriMo!

At Sat Oct 27, 03:55:00 PM, Blogger XE said...

Congrats for signing up! I like your ideas for the first one, but I'm intrigued by the second as well. I love your point of view idea for the second one; it could have tremendous potential. You're right though, it really really needs a different title. I'm not at all in favor of the third one, but hey, it's your book not mine. Good luck!

At Sat Oct 27, 05:57:00 PM, Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

Aw, Lynn: Those were just the barest bones of my ideas. I haven't told you everything; they're much more fleshed out in my head.

The conflict of the first one is does she or doesn't she go back to being a doc? And the circumstances about what destroyed her reputation (making walking away possible, what with all the personal losses she suffered) are parceled out piecemeal through the story. I've been thinking about this one the longest, so I'm not sure forcing it out during NaNo would do it justice.

The tension of the second one is how the good guy finally triumphs over the bad guy, what with everyone always assuming he's the guilty party just because he looks the part. The plot is along the lines of "getting through med school". Why won't the biker dude sleep with any of the women who fall for him once they realize what a gem he is? Will the Ivy scum ever be seen as the pure evil he really is? I've actually got a pretty good handle on the climax of this one, but it's kind of ugly (as in, a rape scene.)

The third one just came to me within the last few weeks. But remember, this is NaNoWriMo. I can make up all kinds of stuff and go back and fix it with research later. But I agree it's biting off the biggest chunk.

At Sat Oct 27, 06:44:00 PM, Blogger Dreaming again said...

TK held a gun to my head and ...oh wait ... TK inspired me with a beautiful Korean Vase and it pushed me over the egde ... and then I signed up. *gulp*

I haven't written fiction in 30 years. I keep reminding myself that a publisher has already bought one book ... I can do this ... yikers!!!

My premise is on my blog and no matter what TK says ... I am NOT SID!

At Sat Oct 27, 07:48:00 PM, Blogger Dreaming again said...

At Sat Oct 27, 08:29:00 PM, Blogger Nurse K said...

I'd never, ever, ever read #3. You're a doctor, and unless you plan on researching warfare tactics and strategy prior to your 30 days, you're going to have a problem. Plus, anything that casts the US as the enemy, especially fundamentalist Christians as equivalent to modern terrorists, is going to turn off a minimum of 60 or 70% of potential readers. The remaining 30% of readers are those that think Michael Moore and Al Gore are the smartest people on Earth.

I like #1 myself. In my hospital, for instance, there was a Ukrainian neurologist who escaped religious persecution and financial problems (his country only gave him $30/week and the mob was active in his city) in his home country to come to the US. He started off as a janitor knowing no English and is now studying for his US boards after a stint in nursing school.

Of course, with your #1, there would, I think, have to be some other reason for her new career other than a disdain for capitalism. Again, most people in our country would find such a person to just be silly or stupid and not care whether she triumphed or not. "Triumph by taking some patients, for Godsakes!"

I think there has to be a more emotional overtone, maybe a severe depression or debilitating feelings of guilt/panic attacks, etc that would otherwise prevent her from working entirely. As she comes out of her depression, she could go back to work but discovers she likes the simplicity of the phlebotomist job enough to just keep doing that.

At Sat Oct 27, 10:16:00 PM, Blogger Nurse K said...

Oh, by the way, since I killed my blog and am starved for a writing forum, I signed up as well!! I am one who can write kick-ass short stories, but anything beyond 20 pages turns into imperfection and frustrates me.

Now to figure out WTF I should write about...

At Sat Oct 27, 11:45:00 PM, Blogger Lynn Price said...

,Those were just the barest bones of my ideas. I haven't told you everything; they're much more fleshed out in my head.

I figured as much, and that's why I said I was wearing my editor's hat. Impossible for me to make any judgment on a story unless I have da facts. I'm a real bore with stuff like that.

At Sun Oct 28, 06:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to read the third one (I'm a sucker for alternate universes) but, wow, that would be really hard to pull off. More power to you if you pick it, though.

I can see the first one being done in a way I'd really enjoy, but it would definitely depend on the personality of the female protagonist.

The second one just seems sorta meh to me. I'm not sure how you'd write it so that it isn't immediately obvious where it's going.

Anyway, have fun writing!

At Mon Oct 29, 02:56:00 PM, Blogger Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...

Wow that is really a committment! I vote for #1.

Can't wait to read whatever it is you end up writing.

At Mon Oct 29, 03:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, as a true cynic I cannot see #1 being readable. I have a love-hate realtionship with "happily ever after" stories. I also hate giving blood samples - but that's neither here nor there.

#2 could be kind of cliche, but told from the off point of view could be interesting (think Chief Broom in One Flew over the Cuckoo's nest).

I would read #3, but you've got a ton of work to do to make the story line technically feasible
and have it flow right. How could you have China blame Russian agression on the US? You need a white supremacy or neo Nazi group instead. You have to somehow deprive the Religious Right of their Nukes. Sounds like a lot of work to get it right....

I would call it "The War on Terrorism"

At Mon Oct 29, 04:51:00 PM, Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

shg: "How could you have China blame Russian aggression on the US? "

How could the US blame Osama bin Laden/al Quaeda/Arab/Pakistani/Afghani aggression on Iraq? That's the whole point. Just to make it perfectly clear:

Real=US : Story=China
Real=Iraq : Story=US
Real=al Quaeda : Story=Russia

Perhaps it's more of an "analogy" than an allegory. Even so, I agree; that story's not going to happen any time soon. (But that's a great title for it.)

At Tue Oct 30, 01:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you do decide to go with #3 (I don't know if I'm projecting, but it feels like you have some passion for that one.) Might I suggest replacing Russia with Mexico (or Canada for a chuckle). I think you’ll have a much easier time.

For inspiration about a plausible near-future fundamentalist Christian rise to power, check out the movie "V for Vendetta." In my opinion it does a good job of building an evil Christian state without coming across as offensive to your average Christian. I’d also suggest the 80’s B-movie “Prayer for the Rollerboys.” Not a great movie. But it paints a wonderfully believable picture of a post economic collapse US and the rise of hate based movement.

At Tue Oct 30, 04:08:00 PM, Blogger BranvanBen said...

idea #3 sounds like it'd be a great story, but far too serious for NaNoWriMo

idea #1 could probably be done well, but I agree with you; NaNo probably wouldn't do it justice

idea #2 does sound a bit cliche, but you could use that to your advantage. I think it has the potential to be funny, even while maintaining a serious message. It probably would be pretty good with 1st person omniscient POV (english teachers hate me when I insist this is possible) What I mean by this is to write each chapter from a different person's POV, and collectively they know everything that goes on. You could even put the climax (and only the climax) in the POV of the good guy telling about what became of the bad guy.

At Tue Oct 30, 04:47:00 PM, Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

Abby (great nom-de-blog, btw): Thanks for the research suggestions.

At Wed Oct 31, 11:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Number 1 is it! Try writing it as a category romance. Idea: Heroine Doc is running from a medical scandal (perhaps she thinks she killed a patient, but it will turn out something else was responsible). She shows up in this small town but says nothing about her past. The widowed senior partner, meanwhile, had a wife who hid something big too -- an affair. Can the two docs open up and trust each other, and heal their past wounds? Will the truth about the mysterious death come out? Title idea: "Bleeding Hearts," or the like. Good luck!

At Wed Nov 07, 09:01:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the Phlebotomist idea best, seems like it has the most appealing characters, and the longer I'm in this biz (two published novels and 1 movie) the more I realize they are key to building a dedicated audience. One word of advice though -- fiction is about conflict, and I think you miss an opportunity by having the love interest be a widower. Why not have your Phleb's marriage fall apart because of another woman; then she moves to this small town and finds herself in a situation where *she's* the other woman. Even if her love interest's marriage is awful and a sham and we the readers know our heroine is a better fit for him, she'd still have deep misgivings about breaking up a marriage, etc. etc. etc. Out of such difficult decisions are great fiction made! You might consider throwing in a third love interest (or potential) to build a triangle, with the obstacle being ethical -- he's a patient. Anyhow, good luck, it's a really winning idea and a good vehicle for your voice & musings. (As well as stealth delivery system for your essays....)

At Wed Nov 07, 12:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for turning me on to NaNoWriMo. I read it about it too late last year to participate, but I did hack out about 30 pages of an attempt later in the winter, only to abandon it when nice weather arrived. Now I am a full fledged NaNo newbie. My word count is a little behind schedule but my brain is brimming with ideas.


Post a Comment

<< Home