Tuesday, October 7, 2008

You Make the Call!

I need some advice. NaNo starts November 1st and my task this month is to come up with an idea for my novel. We aren't allowed to write anything ahead of time, but you can outline, so that's what I need to do. A week or so ago I got a spark of an idea and wrote about 100 words. Yes, I realize that technically that goes against the rules, but I'll set my bar at 50,100 and call it even.

Following is the passage I wrote, but I'm stuck from that point on and can't decide where it should go. It's possible this is nothing and will never go anywhere, but I'm excited to try writing something completely different - a non-Mexican story, if you will.

What I'm hoping to get from you, my loving readers, is some input on where it could go. I'm thinking a conspiracy of some sort (the clue is the key) but I've never attempted anything like this and I know I'll need an outline to guide me. So please let me know what you think. And have I mentioned how beautiful and/or handsome you look today?


Michael watched the blood run down Ashley's face. Over her eyes that he'd just kissed last night, around her nose that crinkled when she laughed. The blood dripped off her lips, those soft full lips that would haunt him in his dreams.

The hole was tiny. A nine millimeter. With all the blood you almost couldn't see it.

She lay slumped against the wall. Her eyes were glazing over. The splatter was higher up, a dark stain on the white concrete, then streaked along the path where she fell. She still held the key, but her grip loosened as the minutes passed.

Michael rubbed his hand over his face, then turned and looked over his shoulder. "What the hell did you do that for?"


This could use tweaking, I know, but in the spirit on NaNo I don't want to write any more. I can't wait to hear your thoughts.


Janna Qualman said...

Why no, you hadn't yet mentioned my beauty today. *bats eyelashes* Thank you.


Ooooh. Even before I read the blurb, I was going to tell you to try something scary and horror-filled, a la your post at AW. So yes, stick with this and see where it takes you. Yippee!

Turkey Lurkey said...

Looks like a good beginning. I'd run with it too. In terms of an outline... you can keep it very generic. Maybe plot out clues and have an idea about how it will end. Of course, as you write next month.. feel free to stray from your outline. Just keep track of possible clues and twists, and characters who are mentioned that could play an important role later. (Basically, take notes as you write so you can keep the story consistent.) These are only suggestions, each writer has his or her own method.

Good luck with your NANO!

Anonymous said...

I like this opening and think you have something good here. My idea would be the key could be for a safe or a safe deposit box? In my sci-fi / fantasy brain, the shooter and Michael would be time travelers. lol.

WendyCinNYC said...

I'd run with this for NaNo. Maybe set in in an interesting place or time peroid.

Michael said...


Can you tell me what NaNo is. I heard about it about a year ago, but I never did find out what it was all about. Please e-mail me your answer, since I don't come on here every day. Thanks in advance.


Nadine said...

That was great! I'm excited to read more!

Melanie Avila said...

You guys have a lot of cool ideas. Time travel hadn't occurred to me but that would work well here. Hmm, I'll have to keep thinking on that. I don't think I've ever even READ a book with time travel, lol.

I also plan to outline. I didn't for this novel but I did take notes as ideas came to me. Since NaNo is a tighter schedule I think it'd be smart to have a plan going in.

Sara Spock said...

Cool! It sounds intriguing so far, and I'd like to read more. :-) But I do have some advice because I am about to revise my mystery/suspense novel. Outline. Seriously, I don't write with an outline and it totally bit me in the butt on this kind of story. You need to know your details and how you want each character to be perceived if you're going to toss in red herrings, or give the reader a good twist at the end. I didn't do this and now I have a mountain of revisions, just to be sure that each character isn't giving away the murderer, and at the same time providing some intrigue to the plot. *sigh* Learn from my mistakes!

Oh and research! If you want to have a police element at all, be sure to get the language and procedure stuff down. Have fun!!! Yay for new projects.

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Sara. I know I'm starting off over my head so any prep is good. Good luck with your revisions. :)

colbymarshall said...

I agree with others- just keep your outline loose and go with the flow. I know completely where you're coming from because I'm writing in a genre I'm not used to, either, right now. Best of luck!

Allen said...

Sounds like fun. I did NANO a few years back and now have a lovely trunk novel sitting beside my first novel.

BTW, 9mm goes in the size of a pencil, but exits the size of a plum.

Don't forget to outline in the lovable nudist who hangs out on the beach and drinks. You know he is a kind-hearted, novelist fellow, slim and handsome. (Well, I can dream, can't I?)

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Colby!

Allen, thanks for the tip. I'm assuming I'll have a huge mess to clean up starting Dec 1st. And I'll see what I can do about the nudist. :D

Robin said...

Why, I don't think you did mention how beautiful I am, yet today. I'm also quite handsome, I'll have you know.

I feel so silly and unqualified to give advice or input! *blush* I was thinking that if Michael knew the shooter, maybe he and the killer were trying to con Ashley, but Michael fell in love with her. The key was Ashley's evidence of the con. And maybe Ashley's not even really dead! Mwahahaha!

spyscribbler said...

Wow, that sets up all sorts of interesting stuff. Is Michael using his girlfriend but then fell in love? Or was he just using her? What was he using her for? And who's over his shoulder? Why did that person kill Ashley? What is the killer and Michael planning?

So many possibilities!

Melanie Avila said...

Oooooooh! Robin, that's the type of book I want to write!

Melanie Avila said...

Spy, you asked all the right questions. :) I'm worried it's too much all at once, but I like it as an opening.

Stephen Parrish said...

The opening paragraph suggests Michael and Ashley are romantically involved, perhaps seriously. When Ashley is shot Michael would presumably say something more tortured than "What the hell did you do that for?"

The description of the blood on the wall is great.

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Stephen. The contrast between what you expect to be his reaction and what IS his reaction is what I'm going for. I want you to wonder what's going on, why he reacts so casually to the woman he supposedly loves being killing in front of him.

Jenna said...

Pretty cool so far...

It reminds me of a Lost episode with Sayid after he is off the island (episode from 02/14/2008, "The Economist", Season 4, Episode 03)--I had to look it up to read the recap thus all the episode info :).

I like Robin's suggestion...you could go a lot of cool ways with this idea. NaNo is the perfect time to write something different, I think, and let it fly and see what your brain comes up with.

Some outlining and some idea where you're going would be good if you're doing a thriller but I also think there is some benefit in writing what comes to mind, whether it's in order or not. Then spend December piecing it all together.

When I did NaNo I didn't have a lot of time to think too deep so the inner critic/editor/organizer was off and when I look back on what my subconscious came up with I am surprised at some of the cool connecting bits and paths it went with the story that I wouldn't have thought of if I was overthinking it.

Good luck!

Melanie Avila said...

Jenna, now I have to look up that episode! I know I watched it fairly recently.

I agree with you - I want to write an outline but just so I have a general idea which direction to go. If I tried to start writing it today I fear I'd sit and stare blankly at the screen. By coming up with some plot points I should be able to keep moving forward.