One Week Later

This is more of an update post than anything else…

First things first. I’ve switched NaNo novels.

Now, I know I said in my ‘NaNo Tips’ post that you shouldn’t switch ideas. And, of course, like all great writers (great is a general adjective in this case), I broke that rule.


There were a few factors that went into the decision:

  1. I hit 42,891 words in The Handkerchief (the old story), and was still eager to write it… just maybe in a different way. With a better thought-out setting. And the elements of the story that came into my head. And maybe with more rest. In any case… I knew I was going to write the story at some point.
  2. The ‘new’ story, Settling the Accounts, is not a new story.
  3. I made a commitment to myself to finish The Handkerchief in one way or another (hit 50k, at least, and type THE END), by the end of November.

Because Settling the Accounts is kind of my pet project at the moment… I’m going to tell you a little bit about it.

In late 2008 or early 2009, soon after my first NaNoWriMo, I was looking through our house’s collection of National Geographic magazines. Now, these magazines are still there, from I-don’t-know-what-year to the most current magazine that was delivered to our house before we left (that’s about October 2011). I haven’t read all of them, but the May 2005 issue caught my eye on this particular day.

A tarantula was on the front. Now the cover story was Poison: 12 Toxic TalesFascinating, right? Maybe for someone who likes reading about poisons. I didn’t, and I don’t. But the most interesting part of this entire article was this phrase right here:

Because it is colorless, tasteless, and odorless, arsenic was the poison of choice for […] Hieronyma Spara, a 17th-century Roman entrepreneur who ran a school that taught wealthy young wives how to dispatch their husbands and become wealthy young widows.

What could possibly be more fascinating than a man who finds out his beautiful young wife wants to poison him? Of course, me being a romantic (and newly-14), what if the man was so in love with his wife that he, instead of behaving like a rational human being and having his wife carted off for intended-homicide, tried to make her fall in love with him so she wouldn’t want to poison him?

It gets better, trust me.

This October, I suddenly realized that I had the missing piece of this puzzle. Why, after all, would anyone want to murder a perfectly nice guy (of course, the hero of a story has to be a perfectly nice guy)? Of course the heroine can’t be a power-hungry mercenary, because that wouldn’t make a nice character! (I am a firm believer in the idea that everyone is nice if you get to know them better. Unfortunately, this means all my villains turn out to be perfectly normal people who don’t get along with other people.) What if, the guy she was marrying was supposed to be a very rich man, but is actually a miser? And he wants to marry her, to throw his creditors off the track? (By the way, in this version, she’s penniless too.)

It gets better, trust me.

I actually tried writing that version.

It didn’t work. For one thing, something went wrong with the story in my head. For another thing, I got about 10k into that version and realized that, if I hated the last 8000 words, it was probably time to step back and reconsider my options.

And it does get better.

On about November 3rd, I came up with the best part.

Warlocks and witches.

And towers. And lots of cats (cats show up often in my novels, though I’ve never had one).

And, why does she want to poison him? So he doesn’t steal her magic. And why does he marry her? Because he thinks she’s rich. And why do they fall in love in the first place?

Because… well, I haven’t figured that out yet.

At any rate, when he finds out she wants to poison him, he doesn’t love her yet. In fact, at that point, he probably hates her, and laughs at what a good joke it’s going to be when she finds out she’s a billion dollars in debt.

It’s still in the working stages, but I’m sure it’s going to be comedic.

Here are a few scenes (veeery rough draft), in case you’re interested:

The Proposal Scene

“If— if we were married—”

“Now you’re getting the picture.” He said with a smile.

“If we were married,” she said, her voice gathering strength as her cheeks became redder, “if we were married,” she said for the third time, “I’d— I’d poison your tea!”

He frowned, then his expression cleared. He gathered her up into his arms and brought her too close for comfort, then lowered his head until she stiffened.

Eloise wondered wildly if he could feel any magic, and if so, was it more safe to back away or to blast him with a fire ball? He lowered his head to her ear, and she tried to draw away, but he was just a bit too strong for her, and she couldn’t. Instead, she tried to push herself away, but that didn’t work either.

“‘If we were married,'” he said in an undertone, “I like to hear you say that, by the way.” Then he smiled wider, and she could hear it in his voice, “If we were married,” he said, “I’d drink it.”

She froze. “That’s—”

“But only if you really wanted me to.” He said.

And, the Wedding Night Scene

He raised his eyebrows and shrugged off the shirt, hanging it up on the footboard.

He turned away and took off his pants. Eloise plucked at the bedspread a bit more.

He turned around.

Eloise screamed.

Ten minutes later, Arthur exited the room looking thoroughly disgruntled. “Don’t smirk.” He told Damad. [the cat]

“Can I help it if I find it funny?” Damad asked, smirking.

“Yes,” Arthur said, stamping viciously across the peach sitting room, nearly knocking over a dainty wooden table, “you can.”

“Don’t worry.” Hannah [another cat] said, jumping onto one of the lace-covered armchairs and then onto Arthur’s right shoulder, “She’ll get over it.”

“I don’t think so.” Arthur said, “You didn’t see her face.”

“Was it excited?” Ana asked.

Arthur shot the orange tabby a disgusted look. “No,” he said, wrenching the door open, “it was not excited.”

“How would you describe it?” Ana asked, ever-curious.

Arthur reached up a hand to scratch Hannah’s neck. “Scared stiff.” He said, “Like she’d seen a ghost.”


To end this ridiculously long post (and I apologize– it won’t happen again for at least a week).

If you want to start a new NaNo story,

  • Make sure this is not just a fad.
  • Don’t start a third new story.
  • Write like mad.

What are your experiences with your NaNovels so far?


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