The Real Thing

I am preparing for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a 30 day challenge to write a 50K word novella. It's too short a time to write anything good, nothing more than a first draft, but I suppose agents and publishers will want to know that I can crank out a lot of words under a tight deadline. It can't hurt.

The story I have in mind is a continuation of a recent sci-fi short story which has not yet been published (or even sent out for consideration). Set in a distant future, it's an interesting world and I'm not yet done with it; the ramifications of events in the short story need to be told. So now, I'm developing characters and creating an outline to follow multiple sub-plots; a science fiction love story with freedom, oppression … and submarines. All I need is inspiration.

Do you ever look to movies for inspiration? My NaNoWriMo novella will deal with themes of coming of age, loss of innocence, changing times, and of course, love. I re-watched The Big Chill. Got little from it. I re-watched St. Elmo's Fire. Garbage. I didn't like it then and I still don't; none of the characters are likable. I turned to a Tom Stoppard play, one I saw years ago, The Real Thing. Watching videos of interviews with Stoppard and lectures about the play, I made copious notes on the nature of love as ideas came to me; in particular, love in a virtual reality world in conflict with love in the real world. Each of my main characters will have a different take on the nature of love, as well as a different take on the events of the preceding short story and the benevolence of the A.I. controlling their undersea paradise.

NaNoWriMo will be a grueling ordeal, but the story is worth it.


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