Monday, June 4, 2007

Novel Writing Challenge, My Gothic Delight

I have been threatening to tell you all about the novel writing challenge my friends Charlyn and Kay are launching ourselves upon-- so mentally prepare yourselves for all things exciting and novel and I will launch right into that.

It began at the Borders at Colombus Circle where K and I were killing time before a theatrical event. (Perhaps Dying City at the Lincoln Center? My memory is faulty.) We were walking through the romance section, and I was saying, in the snotty, self-delusional and self-important manner I sometimes have looking at the shorter-form Harlequin romances:

"We could write these! I bet you make $3,000 a pop. These wouldn't be difficult to write-- the Harlequin site gives you topics to write on, like pirates or school teachers and crap. That's so easy! We could do this!"

K, wisely, did not point out that I have no evidence to support my claims of potential romance novel-writing brilliance, having never finished any of the ten or so sci fi/fantasy/romance novels I have started (well, I finished two novellas, but they are best forgotten). Instead we focused on the catagories harlequin assigns writers, and from there came up with an idea for a challenge. We set up catagories and different ideas, to be drawn out of a hat, to force ourselves to write tongue-in-cheek romance novels. We have no great dreams of publication and world-wide acclaim (well, I do-- but K and C are more sensible people by far.) But we do expect to entertain ourselves excessively this summer.

So, in case any of you arm-chair enthusists wants to participate along with us, here are the categories and ideas we drew our topics from. Feel free, also, to suggest ideas! We would love that. And we are going to continue drawing complications as we write, so your ideas may get used in one of our later chapters.

GENRE
Arabian Nights
Thriller/MurderMystery
Treasure hunting adventure
Western
Sci fi/Fantasy
Gothic
Stolen artwork (jewelry, sports memorabilia, ...)
Time-travel
Travelogue/diary
Film Noir

SETTINGS
A cruise ship/ocean liner
New York in a blackout
Deserted island
Pillsbury Bake-Off
International Cat Show
A Train
Miss Teen Arkansas Pageant
Desert oasis
Space station
Bizarre candy factory

COMPLICATION FOR THE HERO
Disfigured
Circus performer
Running from the law
A hidden identity
Is an Egyptian mummy
Mutant powers
One armed
Addicted to Internet porn and American Idol reruns
A famous literary figure (Sherlock Holmes, Mr. Darcy. Etc)
Painful history as an evil sultana’s harem boy

COMPLICATION FOR THE HEROINE
Cursed by an evil dwarf
Must avenge her father’s death
Owns a failing cherry orchard
Numerous bastard children
Has created a deadly invention
Linked to organized crime
Speaks to animals
“No holds barred” extreme cage fighter
Cyborg chip implanted in her brain
Princess in disguise

RANDOM COMPLICATION
Hurricane
War
Plague
Thieving in-laws
A lost colony/civilization is discovered
Herod’s slaughter of the innocents
Forest fire
Heavy taxation without representation
Someone is plotting to take over the world and must be defeated
A long journey on horseback

FORMATTING COMPLICATIONS
Includes extensive footnotes
Quotes fictional news articles
One character speaks in rhyming couplets
Liberal use of foreign accents
Chapters must be prefaced with appropriate biblical quotations
Chapters must be prefaced with relevant recipes and/or quotes from Julia Child
Quotes throughout from the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on “Grenada”
Includes transcripts of famous or fictional courtroom trials
Novel purports to be “factual” and contains appropriate notes on the manuscript’s discovery and origins
Hero or heroine’s original poetry is quoted in every chapter

NOVEL MAKES LIBERAL USE OF THIS ITEM/PROP
Machine gun
Dinosaur bones
Frozen mammoth
Suit of armor
Meat cleaver
Magician’s cabinet
Magic wardrobe that is gateway to another realm
English to Pakistani dictionary
Spray starch
Flamethrower

Our 'rules' allow us to abandon an idea after the first chapter if it is not working out. K and I held our drawing on Thursday of last week and this is the prompt I got for my novel:

Johnna's Novel
GENRE: Gothic
SETTING: New York in a blackout
COMPLICATION FOR THE HERO: A famous literary figure
COMPLICATION FOR THE HEROINE: Speaks to animals
RANDOM COMPLICATION: A lost colony/civilization is discovered
FORMATTING COMPLICATIONS: Novel purports to be “factual” and contains appropriate notes on the manuscript’s discovery and origins
NOVEL MAKES LIBERAL USE OF THIS ITEM/PROP: Magic wardrobe that is gateway to another realm

I have finished the first chapter of my novel already (She said smugly.) I may post the preface, or set up a separate blog to serialize the novel (and K and C's if they are interested). Still thinking. I am sure I can get at least a few chapters done on this idea-- although that wretched formatting complication (my idea, so I can't complain too loudly) is a huge pain in the tuckus.

3 comments:

Michael said...

I just have to say that I think this is a fabulous idea, and it's awesome you're doing this. Congratulations, good luck, and have fun! Keep us appraised of your progress.

~ nytheatre mike

Johnna Adams said...

I will keep you so posted you will get sick of me most likely! Don't worry! ;-)

Mookxi said...

roflmao ! That hilarious. Good job guys on the ideas list.