Novel Ideas: The Story of My Second NaNoWriMo Novel

Ever wondered where ideas for stories and novels come from? In this post, I delve into the beginnings of the idea behind my NaNoWriMo 2015 novel Kitty Hero Chronicles.


Blue Lagoon Ecosystems Journal
Kitty Hero Chronicles cover

Excerpted from my lagoon blue “Ecosystems” journal on October 22, 2015.

Going the Distance

I can’t think of a better way to (nearly) end this journal than with the news that I’ve officially declared my entry as a NaNoWriMo 2015 participant! I’ve got some finishing touches to put on the related blog post, but it’s official.

The way I figure, what better way to cap off a year of becoming an official fiction author than by going the distance and participating in the ultimate writing challenge: NaNoWriMo! The great thing is, even if I don’t make it to 50,000 words [the required amount of writing before you’re considered a winner of the contest]—which I’ll do my best to make happen—[the organization hosts] another contest in April and July every year called “Camp NaNoWriMo,” which is sort of like the “Just Write It” challenges from Wattpad.

Even though there’s a lot going on in November already…

  • Deer hunting season opens for muzzleloader and big gun
  • Thanksgiving
  • Preaching and singing appointments
  • Private guitar lessons
  • and more—including my 2009 NaNo novel edits 

…this is no different from any other month, really. Besides, back in 2009, the list was longer (and way more stressful) than all this other stuff put together, and I still made it to just over 50,000 words. I just have to pace myself, be realistic about my commitments, and keep going no matter what. By the way, not everything is a commitment!

Not everything is a commitment.

- me

The Beginnings of a Story

So, what’s my new NaNoNovel going to be about? Oddly enough, it’s not a sequel to the 2009 novel, even though I’ve been chewing on that idea for a while. It’s also not a separate story I’ve been kicking around, already have a rough outline  for and mind map of, and has continuously kept me curious to find out what happens.

[Author’s Note: This alternate story is still way on the back burner. I may never get to writing it, but I still have the documents I created for it in case I need to refresh my memory.]

In short, what I have to go on so far is this:

new novel synopsis

It’s a story about a Russian Blue cat, Java (so named after our own cat), who discovers she has superpowers and must use them to save her town from a mad, evil lab rat.

That’s what I wrote as the synopsis of the novel on my NaNoWriMo profile.

The Birth of a Story Idea

It all started when Melissa and I were having a playful discussion that began with a single question: “What if our cat, Java, had superpowers?” From there, a whole world of possibilities opened up to me as I saw other pets in my extended family as cast members—a laid-back Toy Poodle and a nervous Chihuahua in particular. This was on the last day of our Fall Creek Falls vacation. [I still remember when we were discussing it—we had stopped at the park’s general store for a bite of ice cream.]

Even though the other story I mentioned has stuck with me for around two months, the characters in this new story idea came alive for me. Since I already knew three of them, including Java, I felt like I could write a story about them based on pure instinct; the same instinct that gave me all those great ideas when Melissa and I were brainstorming about it on our vacation.

We talked about potential superpowers—like a supersonic purr for Java and a twitchy disposition for the Chihuahua. I even sat down a couple days ago and sketched out some story notes to have something to go by when I actually started writing it. The closer it gets to NaNoWriMo—only ten days and counting—the more I feel in my gut that this is the story that needs to be told.

And even if it turns out to be novella-length instead of 50,000 words, I can continue working toward the winning word count by beginning my alternate story; what better time to do so!

Strategies for Staying on Track

I just have to keep telling myself to keep my nose to the grindstone and, most importantly, have fun! No more keeping up with notes and timelines. I’ve realized that’s what edits are for. I have to keep writing til I reach “The End.” Don’t worry about fixing anything until that point comes.

Here’s a gold nugget of a thought. Since I’ll simultaneously be working on the edits for my 2009 novel, If I feel my inner critic struggling to go into “edit mode” [on the new novel], I can redirect it toward my previous novel to appease it while [sneakily] moving forward in my current WIP (work in progress).

Considering this, it may be best to have at least two projects going on at the same time.

So as I leave the final page of this journal for some creative stats (blog post on this coming soon) regarding this particular notebook, I go forward in the pursuit of that which eluded me all those years ago in 2009: a complete novel/story the first time around, regardless of the final word count.

[Author’s Note: To clarify this last statement, I had, in fact, reached 50,000 words for the 2009 novel, so I technically won. I did not, however, finish the story by the time the contest was over. It took an extra 20,000 words—written around three years later—to do that. But that’s a story for another time.]

P.S. To see the result of my entry, read this blog post.

P.P.S. Or, if you’re eager to read the entire novel, visit this link.

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