November 1 is finally upon us, and with it marks my 5th year participating in NaNoWriMo. Last year, I went big and bold with a brand new (and highly ambitious) project called Infinite, which I would still say was a success despite not getting anywhere near that 50,000 word mark.
This year, though, I’ve decided to scale back my ambitions a bit. Between grad school and a host of volunteer activities (not to mention work), I just don’t foresee myself getting very far if I try to build something from scratch. Thus, I decided that this year I would focus on shooting for 50,000 words of an in-progress work instead. (I mean, 50,000 words isn’t even half of what I’ve been producing in recent years).
I had several options to choose from this year, but after a careful consideration of the structure I already have in place for each story, I finally settled on the rewrite of book 2 of the Star Trilogy, The Secret of Erris. I think it will offer a good combination of challenge and ease, considering that the world is already mostly built but the changes in the first book have made the original plot nearly obsolete.
That being said, here is a little about my 2016 NaNo project.
A year has passed since the defeat of the Gauls at Altis Pass, and all of Livania has come together in the elvin citadel of Rinba to celebrate that victory. With the celebration, however, comes some shocking news: Cael, one of the original four Stars and Gavin’s father, may still be alive, trapped somewhere in the heart of Erris, a deserted, monster-infested swampland to the south of Livania.
Teaming up with the forest elf prince, Shea, the Ardenian princess, Lina, and Razi’s father, Delwynn, the four young Stars set out on a mission to save the missing hero. What they don’t know, however, is that Erris is not merely a deserted swamp. And as they search for clues to Cael’s whereabouts, they discover that they are not alone in this region, either.
A dancing fire crackled in the fireplace of an immense library, its lively flames casting a warm glow against the white marble hearth. The light of the blaze sent flickering shadows across tall bookshelves – all filled to the brim with a wide array of ancient volumes and scrolls – that stretched out along the length of the expansive room. Ancient tapestries hung from the dark stone walls that encompassed the room, their gold-thread tassels dangling above statues wrought of various metals, set with precious stones, and covered with a fine layer of dust. To one side of the white marble hearth stood an ornate bronze desk, its polished surface glinting in the firelight, and on the opposite side sat a plush red silk armchair trimmed in gold thread.
And there, settled down in the armchair, was Radek, his long golden hair pulled back in an ornate metal clasp as he bent his head forward, his bright blue eyes scanning the worn, stained pages of a stack of papers that had been recovered from the Battle of Altis Pass roughly one year earlier.
A sigh escaped the mountain elf’s lips, and briefly he closed his eyes, rubbing the tension out of them. He had lost track of the hours he had spent here in his library, sifting through the massive collection of material he had acquired over the thousands of years that he had been alive. Some of the tomes were new, written even within the last century, while others were ancient, their ages unknown even to him. These he had inherited from his father, who had inherited them from his own father before that. At one point in time, Radek had found the tomes to be mere entertainment. Now, though, he thought of them in a much different light.
The papers that had been recovered from the Gauls at Altis Pass were strange, written in ancient elvish but in a manner that was highly unfamiliar even to Radek. At first, the documents had been left to the Livanians, but when the code proved too difficult even for Delwynn, who had served under King Ceallach, Radek had taken it upon himself to sort out the mystery.
How long had it been since he had first started this project? Two months? Three? He couldn’t remember. And so far, he had managed to understand very little of it.
That the documents all pertained to Harzia was no surprise to Radek. After all, Harzia was where the Star Spell was located. It stood to reason, then, that it would also be a place of interest to the Gauls, who had been hunting the Star power since the dawn of the mountain kingdom. What didn’t make sense to him, however, were the constant references to words and names that even Radek himself had never heard of. Sometimes, the writing was poetic; other times, it seemed to be little more than gibberish. Most likely, Radek supposed, it was some sort of code system, possibly intermixed with the Gaulian dialect. He was surprised that any of the Gauls would know ancient elvish, but he wouldn’t put it past them, he supposed, considering their long history with Harzia. Now if only he could get into their minds long enough to understand the meaning behind the words. Just that long, though. Frankly, he had no desire to get into their minds beyond that.
Quietly Radek reached down to the papers resting in his lap, flipping one over to examine the next page. Oh well. Since mind-reading was out of the question, he would just have to continue doing things the usual way instead.
He was just getting to the end of the page when, suddenly, his eyes landed on a particular passage. There was a message here, one that actually seemed to make some measure of sense, and in it was a reference to an ancient elvin book.
“Strange,” Radek muttered to himself, standing and making his way toward the back of the library. “How would a Gaul know of this book?”
His sharp blue eyes scanned the bound volumes that sat on the aged shelves. To a visitor, finding anything in this library would probably appear all but impossible. But to Radek, it was simple. Very little had changed about it in the past thousand years, and he had read everything in his collection at least once.
At last he found what he was looking for, drew the book off the shelf, and returned to his seat. He laid the tome on his lap and stared at the title for a short time. It was a large book, possibly containing a thousand pages or more, and obviously old. The leather cover was cracked, the pages stiff and yellowed with age. Every now and again one could see an insert tucked in between the pages, each containing hand-sketched images of monsters, heroes, temples, and all manner of mysteries and glories of days long since past.
Radek’s eyes narrowed slightly as he stared down at the ancient text. He hadn’t read this book since he was a boy. How long had it been? 2000 years, perhaps?
Quietly he flipped to the title page of the book, running his fingers over the faded ink scrawled in delicate writing from top to bottom. Then, almost in reverent awe, he muttered aloud, “Legends of Erris.”
I’ve already got a total of about 3,000 words from previous work on this manuscript, so I won’t be starting directly at the beginning. Still, this year’s NaNoWriMo might give me the push I need to sort through all those plot and character changes and get this series rolling again. And to all of you who are planning on participating this year as well, I wish you all the best.
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
― Louis L’Amour