NaNoWriMo Chapter 3 – The Who and Why
The tale of the wandering Nomad won last week’s vote, I said I wanted a challenge and by gods that’s what you’re determined to give me. Alright so let’s see what I can do.
All that’s left to do is to populate our stage with a cast of characters: The Nomad is our focal character, in order to maintain mystery of his or her origins and methods of survival it’s important that the narrative not be told from their perspective. So the protagonist is therefore an Observer, someone who witnesses the actions of the Nomad, and whose life is shaped by them.
The Observer comes from a community of survivors. The leaders of the community, and the ways they have found to survive will inform the way the Observer interacts with and interprets the deeds of the Nomad, but they will also help bring detail to the world.
Who am I writing about…
Master & Student
How did I not consider Wuxia in my genre mixes?
The Master is a wise and patient wanderer, unwilling to share his learnings with those who he deems likely to use it recklessly. His patience has led him through a dangerous world without a scratch, it’s almost as though he’s invisible to the deadly monsters that hunt and kill those caught outside, alone every day. A fated encounter brings him together with a would-be protégé from a community that revile the mysterious stranger. In order to learn, she must leave behind everything.
The people of this place would be xenophobic and would fear an upset of the balance, and would obey a routine with zeal. The presence of a stranger, and the idea that that stranger might be having an influence on one of their own would create panic and fear. The town of Ba Sing Se in Avatar, or the City of Ember make for excellent inspiration material, worlds where survival depends on cooperation and doing as you are told.
If you walk without burdens your tread shall be softer. A world so full of hardships is equally full of lessons that can be learned by those who are open to them.
The is somebody out there, wandering the endless expanse of sand, and only one amongst the intrepid foraging team saw them. In the heat blasted world where the horizon shifts daily there’s no shame in seeing things from time to time, but following that mirage for days convinced that it’s real will get you killed, and the rest of your team right along with you. More interestingly if the Nomad is simply a hallucination, can anyone be entirely sure that there’s a gigantic monster out there?
This story would be about the hunt, something of a Moby Dick story but in this case the quarry would be representative of hope, and the endless pursuit of it no matter how the world seems to work against you. The obsession would drive the Observer mad, and the team at his back would be the ones endlessly trying to drag him back, despite the fact that they are all hopelessly lost.
How can you believe their senses when the very ground shifts and changes? Our scavengers are heroes amongst their people, but if they’re led astray by one mad party member then the people lose an essential lifeline.
A Killer Amongst Us
I sincerely did not think of Riddick before I came up with this idea.
A stranger is brought in from the desert. He seems to be suffering some kind of shock, and sits in silence while others speculate over how he made it this far, tending to him. On his arrival however, people start dying, and everyone “knows” who’s to blame. Only one person stays stalwartly on the side of the Nomad, our Observer, perhaps the one who helped nurse the stranger, or the one who took him in. She will pursue her own investigation, no matter the danger it presents.
This narrative would follow the concept of trust, particularly as it pertains to it’s necessity in a world with so few people left. I’d try and steer away from the crime and investigation elements to emphasise the delicacy of the predicament, and how the actions of a few people could severely jeopardise their safety. In this story, our monster becomes a secondary threat, or possibly a catalyst to the plots eventual climax, the reveal of the real killer.
How could anyone trust a stranger over the people she has known and cared for? What leaves our protagonist so certain of the mysterious wanderer’s innocence, and who could the real killer be? More importantly who would kill someone when human life is made especially precious?
As our Observer follows the Nomad, he observes her preternatural fortune. As she occupies herself with activities around the refugee’s sanctuary, it seems as though every misfortune she encounters is somehow mysteriously circumvented, despite the monsters that hunt the wastes, despite the harsh environment, and despite the lunatics who live lives of strength and bloody sacrifice. She seems to possess no special power that keeps her safe, and yet she goes on.
Though others speculate at the strange winds that seem to spring around her, or at her apparent age despite her choice to wander, our Observer is far more fascinated with her intention. She seems to pass by regularly, but never approaches. A madwoman? Perhaps, but then how so agèd? What is her destination, and her purpose?
This story is driven by the mystery, and constant doubt. It may never be truly revealed whether the Nomad is out to help, to destroy, or simply to wander (yes, I’ve already decided). The only answer she gives is that in truth she is never alone…
So far your choices have crafted my novel, selected the genre, and the overall narrative, now I put it to you to select one of these groups to fill my world. Your decision will shape my NaNoWriMo entry, so vote away…
With only another week or so left until NaNoWriMo begins in earnest there is very little left to settle on before I have enough to work with. I freely admit, this is not how I saw this idea going, but if it was what I expected I’d probably struggle hard when it comes to actually writing the full thing.
Thank you all for your participation so far.