Writing Wednesday: A NaNoWriMo preview — 2014

November is coming up soon and that means NaNoWriMo is upon us once again.   I have been participating in NaNoWriMo for years now, though only once have I actually managed to write 50,000 words in the thirty days.   Still, the purpose of NaNoWriMo, for me, is to keep writing.   It is less about writing good content or completing any project or finishing any novel, but the emphasis is all on getting the words written.   It is all about doing the necessary writing with a looming deadline to encourage the accomplishment of what seems like an impossible task.   There is time later to revise, rewrite, and edit.  There is time later to add new scenes and chapters and cut whole sections completely.

For the last couple of years I have taken each November to write the same story.   I have been working on this Mormon Steampunk novel idea for a long time, and never actually take the time to write until November rolls along.  Throughout the year I plan, take notes, contemplate the characters and ponder the plot points, but I do not write.   I should probably fix that.   But, this leaves me in the position that I have come to view NaNoWriMo as a time during which I pull out my novel again and try once more to write it.

So, with November approaching I am again thinking of this novel, but I am also considering that I might like to try writing something completely different.

There have been a few other ideas floating around in my mind, and I know I need to take some more time to flesh out some of these ideas and plan the plot and characters more in depth before I start writing.

I have long been fascinated with the story of Martin Luther and the Reformation having long loved Germany and German history.   And I am a tech geek, working tech support for universities for about five years now.  As such, I have been, at least casually, following the story of Edward Snowden who released documentation about secret government programs and then fled the country.  I see that there could be a parallel drawn between a Snowden-like figure and Martin Luther.   It might be fun to explore the idea of a modern-day Luther, but instead of posting 95 theses on a church door in Wittenberg detailing aspects of the Catholic Church that have strayed from the Bible, this techie would, of course, post 95 theses online to a forum like Reddit detailing how the government has strayed from its founding document, the Constitution.    I would like to follow the Luther story pretty closely, with the user also sending a letter directly to the President, as Luther sent his letter to the Pope.   And the letter would not be accusing the President of any wrongdoing, but pointing out to the President what he was seeing going on in his intelligence agency – just as Luther was not originally accusing the Pope of anything, but sought to inform the Pope of what he saw priests in Germany doing that he felt was not in line with Biblical teachings.   Luther originally wanted to help the Pope clean up the Church, and so this user would originally seek to help the President clean up the intelligence agencies, getting them back on track with the Constitution.   But, of course, the movement grows online, millions of people get behind him and start a revolution.   Many go too far, attacking and destroying government buildings (just as the Peasant Revolt in Germany, though this was mostly just using Luther’s ideas of a new German Church instead of the Roman Catholic Church as an excuse to plunder and attack rich nobility) and the user is forced to come out of hiding to quell these violent acts and establish the proper ideals of government.

It may be a little preachy, I’ll try to tone it down and make it more of an interesting story than a sermon on privacy rights and the proper role of government.   I’d like to explore the idea of Martin Luther as a man, his personal character and how his firm beliefs inspired others to action.   And also address the fact that many misinterpreted his words and sought to use them to exact vengeance or ‘justice’ on the noble classes.   I see this as being just as feasible a story today with the internet.   It is not unlikely that a man with inside information on how the government functions, being just an ordinary “monk”, but well versed in the “bible” sees what is going on and posts about everything that is wrong.   And it is not inconceivable that, once posted to the internet, it takes on a new life of its own, growing to a massive movement, people seeking to abandon the incorrect practices of the government and re-establish or “reform” a new government.   Though, probably, since they will be all hearkening back to the core document of government, the Constitution, they will have to organize a political party and seek election to office before enacting any major changes.

I think this could be a fun little novel, paralleling the Martin Luther story with an Edward Snowden-type figure, and probably drawing on some elements of Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, a book I highly recommend.  He, too, writes about what the effects of such an over-reaching government program would be like if exposed to the people, and how the people would react.  This should be a fun little project, an interesting novel showing that history does repeat itself, at least in archetypes and broad, general strokes.  The story of humanity is almost always, when viewed in the long term, about man’s inhumanity to man, and about the common people rising up, gathering together when they feel that something is not correct, and moving to change it.  Perhaps I can work in a little parallelism to the Berlin Wall? With thousands of people simply gathering and demanding to be let through, overwhelming the guards by sheer numbers until it just falls.  I love the Berlin Wall story and how it mostly fell by accident and when enough people believed there was a chance to get through that they all gathered in overwhelming numbers.  And I love a little news clip I remember seeing, of a border guard standing with his weapon drawn at a border crossing with thousands and thousands of people arriving. He looks to his supervisor and asks, “What? Should I shoot them all?”  And, to me, that is how the Wall fell, it was just too many people coming together to affect a change they all wanted.  Too many people that the government had to relent.
The more I think about this novel idea, the more the ideas flesh themselves out and the more I am getting excited.  This should be fun.  I will, of course, spend the next month outlining and detailing characters and settings and plot points and working on the framework of the novel.  Let’s hope I can actually sit down during November and get to 50,000 words!

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