Morning, y'all! I had an amazingly productive unplugged week, but it's great to be back. I've got my yet-again-untitled-work-in-progress completely plotted and I think I've only got another 5-7k words left to go, so the timing is perfect to finish before NaNo.
Sadly, as you may have surmised, I'm back to hating my title. Frustrating to be so close to the end, yet still not see my finished work as a whole. It's like finishing a jigsaw puzzle only to discover that the picture you've completed has vanished from sight.
I'm holding out the hope that as I think more critically about my revisions, a title will make itself apparent. Not something I really want hanging over my head during NaNo, though, so I've been looking for inspiration in old French ballads and poems. I heard that Margaret Mitchell got the title for Gone With the Wind from a poem, so I thought I'd try that route. Of course, the translations lose something of the passion of the originals, so it hasn't been very forthcoming.
Hans and Greta have been in my thoughts this past week, as well. I even talked about it with my husband, who asked me why I decided to go with the traditional Wilhelm Grimm story when I could take it in any direction: A modernization in Eastern Europe where the step-mother sells them into the sex trade, or some rural American setting where the witch is really a cannibalistic serial killer. (Seriously, these were his ideas, not mine)
The easy answer was that the time frame-- one month-- would be too short to research like I'd want to (the rituals of serial killers and cannibals, or the truth about the sex trade). Hence, the appeal of a Grimm's fairy tale. I've read every version of Wilhelm Grimm's rendition, which is enough research for me to plow through a first draft in 30 days. I'm writing it as if the Grimms heard the story from an elderly Hans and Greta. And I was actually born in Hessen, the story's region of origin.
There are a lot of reasons-- including my love for the story-- that I chose to write an extended version of the Grimm fairy tale, but I realized that the long answer is similar to what Davin Malasarn wrote in a recent Literary Lab post:
"I'm hoping, through this experiment on non-experimentation, to pick up some good story-telling habits. I'm also hoping to direct my creativity into other areas of the storytelling process. By fixing certain elements, like structure, my creative energy will flow into other avenues, like scene building and character traits, that will force me to think in a different way."
Like Davin, I'm hoping that this exercise will help me direct my creativity into characterization and motivation, instead of plot twists. That it will help me devote more time to craft and style and whatever I tend to sacrifice while I'm writing for the sake of the story. Hansel and Gretel is pretty much all about the characters anyway. Motivation is the key, as I've said before.
As we read the children's story, we don't question why the father decides to give up his children. We don't question Hansel's devotion to his sister, or the witch's desire for fresh meat. In an extended narrative, defining the motivations of the characters is necessary to make the reader believe the story is real.
So there's the long answer. I'm not using NaNo as an excuse to crank out another mediocre novel like all the others I've written. It's an exercise to improve my writing skills, to stretch the writing muscles I hardly use.
Why will you NaNo? For practice? To let a WiP sit for a while? Or just for fun?