Hi, Dear Reader. It is now 8:10 PM Eastern in New Hometown, Florida, and it is 62 degrees F (17 degrees C) under mostly clear skies on a definitely fall-like night. The forecast for tonight calls for similar conditions with a low temperature of 57 degrees F (14 degrees C). Definitely stay-in-the-house weather for me!
Well, after a slow and frustrating start to my writing day, I managed to write the first chapter of my novel, The Tonic of Their Victory, for the NaNoWriMo 2020 challenge. I have no idea if it is a good first chapter; the purpose of the contest isn’t to write a polished manuscript that is ready for publication (either through the traditional publishing industry or self-publishing), but rather to write a 50,000-word draft in 30 days, using any literary style and/or genre. It could be written in prose or as an Icelandic saga; to the NaNoWriMo folks, it doesn’t matter what type of story or genre you do; ’tis the word count that is important here.
Anyway, I am rambling a bit; I tend to do that when I’m tired and my brain is a bit scrambled after trying to conjure up a story out of – literally – thin air. And I know that you have better things to do than to put up with a rambling blogger, so I’ll cut to the chase.
To reach the minimum goal of 50,000 words by November 30, each writer must produce 1,676 words every day from the start of the challenge to the finish. Yesterday I only wrote 1,402 words, which is 274 words short of the desired number.
Today I did better; Chapter One – which took me three separate writing sessions to complete – ended up having 1,631 words, or 45 less than the target of 1,676.
As I have mentioned in previous posts about NaNoWriMo 2020, I am essentially making up this story as I go. I don’t have an outline, no storyboards, no complete list of characters, and no preconceived ending, other than the fact that I don’t plan on doing an alternative history a la Harry Turtledove. The Allies don’t lose the Battle of Normandy in The Tonic of Their Victory, that much I know. But I have no clue as to which of the few characters that I list in my incomplete Dramatis Personae lives, and who dies.
As for how well-written this manuscript is, your guess is as good as mine. Here is how Chapter One starts:
Sergeant Charles Moore moved stealthily down a narrow, muddy country lane between two hedgerows as he led a squad of infantrymen across the Norman countryside just south of a small town called Pont-Hébert that lies just over five miles away from the city of Saint-Lô. Holding his M-1 rifle at the ready and walking slowly in a half-crouch, the 24-year-old Baptist minister’s son from Cleveland, Tennessee peered intently ahead, seeking any sign of the enemy that he and his fellow GIs knew was out there, lurking in the fields that lay behind the thick, almost impenetrable vegetation that was one of the defining terrain features of Normandy’s bocage country.
Moore wasn’t sure why his platoon leader had chosen him to lead this patrol. He didn’t have especially keen eyesight, nor was he particularly an outstanding soldier with dreams of returning to the States with a chest full of medals and a command master sergeant’s chevrons on his uniform sleeves. Like many young men in the late years of the Great Depression, Moore had joined the Army in 1940 not out of any desire for battlefield honors or glory – his father had been a chaplain in Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force during the last war and came home after the Armistice convinced that there wasn’t any glory in battle – but for the $30-a-month pay for new enlistees at a time when – even after seven years of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal – good jobs were still hard to find, especially in eastern Tennessee. Even then, Moore never dreamed that he would be sent off to fight in another European war; like many Americans before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, he disliked Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, and he deplored Germany’s war of conquest in the Continent, but he was adamantly opposed to American intervention in a conflict that was 3,000 miles away from his country’s shores.
And yet, here he was, moving with deliberate caution, inching forward so slowly that Moore figured an ambitious snail might get to the objective before he did – a crossroads halfway between Pont-Hébert – now home to the 30th Infantry Division’s command post – and the battered city of Saint-Lô, which had been liberated by the 30th’s sister unit in the XIX Corps, the 29th Infantry Division the previous day.
I am, of course, trying my best to write something readable, but right now I am not the best person to judge the quality of my work, I’ve written a couple of short stories and, of course, I have written or co-written four screenplays, three of which were produced. But I have never done a 50K-word novel before. And because I am doing almost no revisions beyond fixing obvious bloopers, I have no idea whether or not I am writing good material or just putting out Grade-A crap.
Anyway, yeah…I did better in the almighty word count department. I’m just not sure if I am doing well in the storytelling part.
Okay, I’m tired, hungry, and needing to get out from behind my desk, so I’ll close for now. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment of My Adventures as a NaNoWriMo 2020 Participant!