In November, I’m participating in a writing project called National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to start writing on November 1st and to just let the words flow. And flow and flow, hopefully reaching 50,000 words by the end of the month. There are almost no rules, but the important guidelines are that you don’t edit yourself- no revisions- and that you start fresh on November 1st. Plot outlining and research, however, are happily encouraged. Which is where you, my wonderful and intelligent readers, come into the picture.
What You Need to Know
I’m writing a post-apocalyptic story. An outbreak (viral or bacterial) wipes out most of the country/world’s population in a matter of days. Infrastructure is basically destroyed almost immediately. A small group of survivors set up a community on a large farm. They face numerous challenges and must protect themselves against marauders and what’s left of the government.
•Woman: mid-late 20s. The farm was her family’s property. She had been living in a city on the other side of the country with her boyfriend but had returned for a visit, and to tell her parents she was pregnant, when the outbreak hit. Her parents were infected and died, leaving her as the only surviving family member. Her boyfriend was sick when she last spoke to him but she has no idea what happened to him after the phones stopped working.
•Man: mid-late 20s. He lived on a nearby farm and grew up with the girl. They were very close but never romantically involved. They are the only survivors from their town. His family property was sold years before and he had been working in a factory a few towns away.
•Boyfriend: late 20s.
Government Assigned Refugees:
•Student: A young woman, late teens- early 20s. She had been a college student studying political science.
•Girl and Boy: A girl, 16 or 17, and her young brother. Orphaned by the outbreak.
•Soldier: A man, late 30s-40s. Former career military, dishonorably discharged for being gay. Very tough exterior but a gentle man inside.
•Nurse: A woman, early-mid 30s.
•Teacher: A man, 30s-early 40s. A high school history teacher.
•Professor: A woman, early 60s. She had been a distinguished Anthropology professor. Found living in a library in the city, she decides to come back to live at the farm.
•Acting Head of the Government. Formerly the Secretary of Agriculture, he is the highest ranking government official who survived the outbreak. Very conservative, pro big ag. Widely disliked during his term. Now working to make all remaining agriculture government-owned and controlled.
•Representative: Woman, 40s. Very bureaucratic and difficult.
So, what I need are some scenarios. They are going to have cows, goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, ducks, the whole shebang. The farm they will be running will be around 400-600 acres, plus access to the surrounding smaller farms that are now abandoned.
I don’t want the story to be all doom and gloom. I want to look at the resilience of people to overcome these kinds of emotional upheavals and hardships and to find the joy in life after disaster. I want to explore what it really means to create a family. I want there to be moments of hilarity and joy mixed in with the soul-searching and societal rebuilding.
I’ve already got about 10 pages of plot notes and character sketches, but I’m really just hitting the high points so far. I’m looking for more small moments that connect the big moments and highlight what everyday life would actually be like.
And….. go! 😉