Write a Novel in 21 Days

Well, not exactly! It took me two days more – 23 days to be precise. But I guess 10% tolerance is acceptable in blog posts. So coming to the point, yes – I completed writing a novel in 23 days. Obviously one does not become a Java Solution Architect by following the book ‘Teach Yourself Java in 21 days’. Nor do I have a publishable manuscript in 23 days that I am going to start spamming publishers with from today afternoon. Far from it! But then around 58,000 words have been written that I fondly hope resembles a story and makes sense at least somewhat remotely. I now have my task cut out to go over it piece by piece, get the plot in line, eliminate all kinds of inconsistencies, decide on the right tone of narrative, create character profiles, fix the dialogues to make them sound more natural, get some background information in place such as the history and geography of the land where the story takes place and make the narrative more interesting and vivid. After that I have to proof read to eliminate all the unnecessary words, get rid of typos and get the grammar right. I foresee this to be a long drawn process spanning over the next 7-8 months at the least. (Of course I will be regaling you all with the gory and excruciating details of the same right here on my blog till you start petitions for Google to take my blog down.)
So what is this story about? I don’t know if any of you will ask, but I am anyways going to tell. Why else would I be writing this blog post? Well – this story is about three Management Consultants. So what is the big deal about management consultants you may ask. It is the same big deal about IITs and IIMs that established the writing career of a certain gentleman who has passed through the portals of these elite institutions established by the founder of our country’s ruling family. For Banks and Management consultants have been the favored hunting grounds of the folk of the aforesaid gentleman’s ilk till he discovered the virgin territory of literature for us to exploit. Another gentleman already beat me to the Banks. And anyways all I know about banks is what my relationship manager and various other miscellaneous callers tell me. I doubt if that would make an interesting story.
Ok – so management consultants it is. But does that make me an equal of this esteemed gentleman? “I have steamy romance sequences. I have tried and tested Bollywood storylines. I have the language that the Indian common man relates to. What do you have?” he may ask me reminiscent of a popular dialogue in one of the Bollywood movies of yester years. My reply is, “I have Harry Potter.” Well, not exactly. Let me clarify before J K Rowling comes after me with a law suit for stealing her franchise. My story has an alternate universe very much like J K Rowling’s world of witches and wizards. Magical monsters, cool weapons that look like a cross between swords and tube lights, dark villains who have made a hobby out of the business of death – I have all that and more in my story.
So that is it about what the novel is about. But why did I have to write it in within a month? It is not like I have signed a deal with a publisher and his blood hounds are snapping away at my heels. Well – that is the whole point. As one English gentleman has postulated centuries back – “Any object in motion will continue in motion and any object at rest will continue at rest unless acted upon by an external force.” So my work on my novel which was at rest would have remained at rest if not for this initiative called National Novel Writing Month which acts as the external force getting hold of people and getting them to write 50,000 words within a month. They have a website, online forums, Facebook groups and pages and volunteers from every part of the world they call Municipal Liaisons, who act as the school teachers driving people to complete their homework.  So, thanks to this initiative, my novel is now in motion and hopefully some external forces at work or home will not act to bring it to rest.
Well - I will close off with a veiled threat that this is not the last you are going to hear about my novel in progress ‘Heroism Consultants.”

The Heroism Consultants

They say everything happens when the right time comes. I have heard of this thing called National Novel Writing Month years back. But somehow I have kept back from participating in the same. This year I reluctantly joined the FB community of the participants – just to participate in interactions related to reading and writing. I guess being in their company gave me the extra push and here I am – participating in the NanoWrimo 2014.
The story is also one that has been waiting long to be written. The original idea for this story was conceived on this very blog more than two years back. Those days I was really into blogger contests. There was this contest organized by Vodafone titled ‘Internet is fun’. I did a mini novella – a series of 14 posts detailing the adventures of a MBA student in ancient Greece. It was a humorously narrated tale, a spoof on the twelve tasks of Hercules where the protagonist uses internet, mobile phone apps and his zany creativity to accomplish the tasks. It was one crazy hell of a tale and one of my friends has been telling me it is a great idea that deserves to be expanded into a full-fledged novel. But it was a very casually written free flowing tale and I was skeptical about how I would expand it into a novel. So I have kept postponing.

Somehow this November brought about the convergence of both these ideas. I decided to do the Singer Series as my novel for NanoWrimo 2014. I remember asking another friend of mine to read the Singer series. He suggested to eliminate the use of internet and mobile phone and to make the fantasy world a bit more serious if I wanted to make a novel out of this. When I heard that from him it seemed as if it would take away the very essence of the tale. But not only have I decided to do precisely that but also eliminate the main character Singer who was based on a friend from my B-School and instead bring in four Management consultants as the protagonists. And thus was born ‘The Heroism Consultants’. I don’t know what else will change as the story evolves. For all I know, absolutely nothing of the original story will remain but will still be inspired by the same. Rather like Ship of Theseus.  
As of now I have completed 15000 words – three quests have completed. The five characters are beginning to come to life as they interact with each other.  A new world is also emerging in a parallel universe with its own history. Hercules feats are getting remodeled to give them a more science fiction feel. Initially my idea was to introduce management consulting frameworks to solve the quests. But then I decided against it as most people would not be familiar with the same and that would restrict the readership. Instead I have chosen to only bring in the generic approach to projects which people in many other knowledge professions and service industries can easily relate to as well – typical boss behavior, various types of people on teams and team dynamics.

I hope I will complete 50,000 words by November end. That will hopefully give me the required momentum to edit, rewrite, rewrite over the next one year and whip it into ship shape with a consistent plot, engaging narrative with a tinge of humor and interesting believable characters. Once I get to that stage then begins the usual debate of approaching traditional publishers versus self-publishing. But then if I begin to think so far, I will probably lose enthusiasm and not even write. So one step at a time is how I have to move. But will be giving updates here as I proceed.
One of the casualties of my new found enthusiasm is going to be this blog. Some of my regular readers, if any, may have seen that my frequency of posting has reduced drastically. This was due to my hectic work schedule over the past few months. In what little time I get, I give priority to my science fiction and fantasy blog where I have committed to bring out one post every Tuesday come sun or rain. This I have been managing thanks to guest posts and cannibalization of some posts from this blog. In the next week or so, work at office is again expected to pick up momentum and with this novel in works, very little is going to be coming up out here.  I also had plans to eventually move to two posts per week on the Fantasy blog and also start a new nostalgic reminiscences blog. Both these plans have been put on the backburner back by this novel.

I will still be trying to keep one blog post per month going out here. The posts are likely to be updates like this one, book reviews on special request or on rare ocassions some nostalgic reminiscence.   People who want to read my fiction or thoughts on my favorite works of fiction can check me out here from now on.

For whom the bell tolls

A book of faces