Four Ways To Develop An Idea: A NaNoWriMo Prompt

I didn’t like the actual prompt for developing an idea for four ways, unsurprisingly enough so I decided to adapt the prompt to ponder some of the thought experiments I am doing for my upcoming novel plan for this November. I have the basic idea and some of the details (and even some of the dialogue) in mind for the novel already, but as always there is a lot of thinking about how the novel is to be framed and how the story is going to be told, and what the story includes. So what I would like to do is discuss four aspects of the book and what sort of questions are shaping how it is that I plan on reaching 50,000 words this November in an enjoyable but also typically Nathanish story.

  • Where To Start

The first of those aspects of story development that I pondered is where to begin this story. As is rather common in my writings, when I think about it, I am starting at the inciting incident and not including any of the leading information to the story. My main character, in particular, has a somewhat long backstory that is quite interesting and may be explored in later volumes (see the last part of this discussion), but this particular story begins with his arrival back home in North Yorkshire after the close of the American Revolution. His arrival home begins a cascading series of issues, including, but not limited, to his desire to find a wife, his taking up of the running of an estate and the title of viscount, neither of which he was raised for, and political issues relating to the fact that he is in charge of a rotten borough that he must distribute to some worthy candidate, to say nothing of the issue of his family connections being almost exclusively limited to his mother’s merchant side and not his father’s recent noble side, all of which leads to the usual complications. I could have chosen to begin the novel earlier and explore why it is that he delays his arrival in England to take care of the tail end of evacuating freed slaves in the American south as part of the British colonial effort, but if I cover that material (see third bullet point), I will do so in flashbacks or letters or something else of that nature.

  • What Perspective(s) To Include

One of the questions I am still pondering is how to organize the story. Most of the story I have in mind comes from the point of view of the somewhat Nathanish main character, which is easy enough to understand because it is fairly easy to get inside the head of a Nathanish character and figure out how he would work through the problems of his existence. Intellectually working through the problems of existence is not something, after all, that one is unfamiliar with. The question is, do I want to limit the story to this or do I want to include, at least partially, things that the main character would not be aware of. The question here is more of what limits I want to place on what material can be covered. I have pondered the use of a somewhat shifting free indirect perspective that slides from one character into another to portray their thoughts and perspective in a somewhat subtle way, but I have not fully decided on how many people will be included in that. If such things are included, then I will need to work out which characters need to be included in that, which brings us to….

  • What Subplots To Include

For a short novel, I have in mind at least a somewhat substantial amount of plot detail to work on. The main character is involved in a lot of interconnected issues, with health problems, family drama on his mother’s side, political and social issues relating to his own title and holdings, and his own longings and motivations and his desire to fulfill them all. Even the bare outline of this plot is somewhat complicated by the main character’s general lack of knowledge of what has been going on in England because of his absence from there for more than twenty years while he was growing up and spending his young adulthood as part of the British colonial administration in the American South. It is my opinion, at least, that this basic plot as I have thought it out so far offers sufficient complexity that no further subplots are really necessary, although quite a few of the potential subplots leave room for questions about…

  • Where To End/Prequels/Sequels

At least as I have thought about it, I plan on ending at the inevitable happy ending for the main character. This happy ending is set in a somewhat dangerous time, and the main character is certainly not immune to his concerns about the long term viability of his happiness (this character is Nathanish, after all). Even so, the sprawling nature of the story as I have thought about it leaves room for plenty of prequels and sequels, including a look back on the marriage between the character’s parents and their later departure from England to the colonial American south somewhere in the 1750’s or so, or the main character’s mother’s remarriage after the death of his father from apoplexy during the American Revolution, or the story of how it was that the main character got connected with helping runaway slaves escape to their liberty from liberty-loving Southern slaveowners, to a look at the future in a few decades for both the main character’s cousin/adopted daughter (one of the family drama aspects of the story), and potentially his future widow. Depending on how fun this story is to write, in other words, this may be the start of a lengthy and interesting series of stories relating to a family whose rise into nobility is tied to the rise of England as a trading and imperial superpower, with all of the questions as to the legitimacy of the global trade in tea, sugar, cotton, and to the administration of colonies and to one’s own household. I’m not sure how large the scope of this story is, but it is potentially very large if it interests me enough to write about the larger tale, including how it was that the Viscounts Lipton (as I have named them, somewhat tongue in cheek) rose in the first place.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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