Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Onwards to Glory!

The year is turning rapidly.  The nights are drawing in, the leaves are turning brown, cereal has been swapped for porridge as the breakfast of choice in the Jones household, it’s getting increasingly tricky to leave a nice warm bed when it’s cold and dark outside, and across the world tens of thousands of writers are gearing up for the start of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

That’s right, once again I will be voluntarily committing myself to write 50,000 words between midnight on the 31st of October and 11:59 on the 30th of November.  My Facebook feed will fill up with word count updates (from many of my friends, as well as myself) and I won’t blame anybody at all if they block me for the duration.

This year’s novel has been entered on the NaNo website under the heading of ‘Fantasy’, but only because, purely for the sake of convenience and to avoid having to do a load of research, I am setting it in a fictional world.  There will be no magic, no elves, no orcs and none of the pseudo-mediaeval trappings that so often come with the genre.

The working title for this year’s opus is ‘The General of Dead Cat Alley’, and the setting is more Regency or Napoleonic than anything else.  It will follow the story of Guil Lucas, a veteran soldier and general in the army of Fleuretia, unjustly blamed for a crushing defeat at the hands of their longstanding enemy Eisenheim.  Disgraced and broken, his estate and fortune seized, he ends up penniless and alone in the crime-ridden slums of the capital city Floriet.

Here Lucas sees an opportunity; the criminal gangs that rule the filthy alleyways are disorganised and inefficient, and would benefit from the military discipline and planning that he can provide. If he cannot serve with honour, he will rule in disgrace. Ruthless and effective, he swiftly begins to gain control of the slums. As his criminal empire grows however, he becomes increasingly aware of the corruption and decadence of the government, and the inequality that keeps so many in the grip of abject poverty. Will he be content with ruling the alleyways and gambling dens, or will he set his sights on the National Assembly led by the new First Minister di Merros, and light the fires of revolution?

Dramatic stuff, yes?  I’m planning on writing it in my accustomed first person perspective.  I’m thinking of perhaps 2 different perspectives; the general himself and a high ranking military officer serving the government and becoming involved in investigating the shadowy new crime boss.  Technology will be more or less Napoleonic, although I’ll have street lights made from luminescent crystal, and in place of gunpowder, piezo-thermic powdered stone, mined in dangerous conditions by convicted prisoners.  There won’t be any steam- or clockwork-powered technology or anything over the top though.

There is a school of thought that suggests that perhaps I ought to work on the first volume in the series I started last year (and the second of which is still only a work in progress), but that theory is nonsense.  I enjoyed (and I’m still enjoying) working on the Zenith stories, but to succeed at NaNo, you really need to be hyper-enthused by a story, and at the moment the above is what I want to work on.  Several key scenes have been written inside my head already.

Fear not though, loyal reader, I will keep you updated as to my progress as the month goes on.  Onwards, to glory!

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