This year for National Novel Writing Month, I'm resurrecting an old concept that I dreamed about some years ago, a character called Charlie Curmudgeon... not his real name, naturally, but his screen name on social media and message boards. He's a recluse, prematurely old, more depressed than grumpy but he thinks of himself as an old curmudgeon. He's basically me but without family or close friends, enough money to live comfortably without working, and owns his own house in San Francisco.
Friday, October 30, 2020
NaNoWriMo 2020 - #0
I'd originally intended to have him involved in a murder mystery, with a vague idea that it would be connected to him trying to diversify his life by joining a gym and then all hell breaking loose on his quiet, orderly existence. But now I want to do it as a supernatural romance, to do with wish-fulfillment... I immediately envisioned a beautiful boy moving into the house next door, with his parents or one parent or a person who seemed to be a parent, and Charlie falls in infatuation with him, watching his comings and goings; eventually the boy notices Charlie watching him and approaches him, offering friendship and eventually becoming a regular visitor and part of Charlie's life.
I don't know what the boy will be, some kind of magical person but what kind? At first I thought a genie, or a djinn, but that's a very ethnically specific sort of thing and they don't tend to have parents; then I thought a fairy, but fairies don't tend to be drawn to cities; perhaps a wizard or witch in the Harry Potter mold, they would definitely be in a city, but would have insufficient magic for what I had in mind in the wish-fulfillment department, as well as lack the 'secret sadness' that I envision for the boy (and by boy I mean late teens, early twenties, not a small child). But then I thought... and this thought was directly inspired by Anne Hathaway in the new version of The Witches.. maybe he could be a witch's familiar, an enslaved fairy or sprite or some kind of magical being, who is immensely powerful but subservient, beaten down by a dominating magic or personality.
The wishes will come when the boy (I need to name him, I just can't think of a good name) wants a romantic relationship with Charlie, but Charlie doesn't want to because he's so fat and old and ugly. He's repulsed by the idea of touching the boy with his ugliness. At first he says, if only I wasn't so fat... and a few days later he loses all the excess weight. I don't know if it should happen overnight, or if there is a potion involved, or what. But he's still repulsed by his old body, saggy skin and tags and old man smell, and says if only I was young again. He wakes up to find himself exactly like he was in his mid-twenties, and is absolutely delighted, he goes out shopping for new clothes with the boy and has a lovely time just being young again. But the revulsion is still there when it comes time to go to bed with the boy, he realizes that he'd always hated his own body, that even though he's not fat or old he's still ugly. And so he wishes to be beautiful as well. And it happens, but I don't know where to go with the story after that. It'll come to me as I write, I hope.
There needs to be some kind of conflict, and I'm sort of simmering that on a back burner. The most obvious is that eventually Charlie would have to fight the witch for the boy's freedom, or simply fight off her hostility toward him for taking up so much of her familiar's time and magic. I'm also thinking maybe the wishes come with a horrible cost, maybe a cost he doesn't know about at first but must start to take part in as the magic becomes bigger with each wish... maybe there has to be a human sacrifice for the wishes, the first two the boy carries out on his own but the third Charlie has to do the murder; or else he has to give up something of himself, at first things he won't miss but later on things that are important to him... but I can't think of what those things might be. Maybe his financial security, or his memories, or a body-part?
I've got the house in mind, and have been researching floor plans and locations, as well as constructing a brief history of Charlie's life... that his mother committed suicide, his father died shortly thereafter, and he was raised by his Grandmother from his early teens onward. His mother will have been a vague distant presence, deeply depressed and emotionally unavailable; his father will have been abusive, a rage-infested alcoholic, a lawyer or corporate executive in some high-pressure sector; the grandmother will be very kindly and gentle but deeply religious, a longtime widow with no interest in romance (maybe asexual). I haven't decided if the grandmother is the father's mother or the mother's, but I envision her as an old southern belle, refined and glamorous in a very self-effacing ladylike way.
When the grandmother died, Charlie was 45, had been living with her since he was 12, and he decided he would live the life he'd always fantasized about... living in San Francisco, in or near the Castro, with a lovely house and he'd make lots of friends and find a lover and have everything he thought he'd missed out on by staying with his grandmother. But once he bought the house and moved in, he discovered that it wasn't his grandmother holding him back, or his geography, it was himself, and he was too afraid of people to make friends in a new city. I'm not sure where he used to live, I should think somewhere further away than Oakland or Piedmont as I'd originally thought, but still in Northern California? And so he lives his life online, lots of message boards, SL and WoW perhaps, and Facebook, but no in-person socializing. Maybe he has social anxiety disorder, or maybe it's just pathological shyness.
Anyway, I don't want to get too detailed in his backstory, just enough for his behaviors and attitudes to make sense. And I need to decided what the boy is, fairy or genie or what, and what his name is, and the witch's name, and Charlie's real last name, and decide if he lives in Noe Valley or Duboce Triangle or Lower Haight... I'm not going to do an outline, just wing the plot as I go and trusting to inspiration. And setting aside a specific time to write.
I was worried about being able to actually put words together, as this entry is the most words I've written all at once in a really long time... but I've written these words and it wasn't too hard, so I am feeling a little more optimistic about being able to write 50k words in thirty days. I'll be posting my daily output here, though I think I'll write it in Word and copy it over. Wish me luck!
Oooh and add me as a buddy if you're also NaNoWriMoing! https://nanowrimo.org/participants/robertmanners