Novel. That is the current title of the word file I have been working on. It currently contains 1380 words and I’m not sure I like any of them. But I refuse to delete them for now. I want to keep something on paper, even virtual paper, to remind myself to keep going. I’m making a concerted effort to participate in the National Novel Writing Month challenge. The idea is to write a 55,000 word novel during the month of November. I’m only having a few problems so far: 1. I’m not sure I like my characters and I don’t have enough of them. 2. I have no real plot to speak of. 3. What I have so far is a bunch of really pretentious dialogue with no real long-term goals. I’m good other than that…. I know I should outline, but don’t I have to have some idea of what I want to have happen before that becomes useful? Maybe not. I am very afraid that I’m going to just end up with a category romance novel. Those don’t have much plot in many cases: Conflict: She loves him; will he discover he is in love with her too? Rising action: They fight about ridiculous things for about 50 pages. Climax: The conflict gets to be too much and they kiss in a mad fit of passion. It’s the best kiss ever. Falling action: All her myriad problems are solved because he is so rich and powerful. Denouement: They get married, have 2 perfect children and live happily ever after. (This is a very tame romance novel.) I’ve read that kind of book. They are a quick trip to beach on a cold and rainy afternoon. The characters are often fun, the settings are suitably foreign and the happily ever afters are sweet and make my heart get all melty. For about a minute. Then I get up, do what I have to do and promptly forget the whole things. Because it’s literary cotton candy. I read those sometimes…but I don’t want to write them. If I put my name on something, I want it to be at least as likeable (to me) as books I would quote and talk about individually. I don’t want to be example 87,954,211B of a common romantic theme. (The theme in question would be “best friends discovering that they’ve been in love with each other all along,” for anyone who might care about that kind of thing.) That kind of plotting is all I have so far. I want more. I don’t know if I want mystery or action or urban fantasy or what, but I know I haven’t stumbled on it yet. But please don’t feel the need to tell me what my plot should be. I need to find it. At least this first time, I need it to be my idea. I don’t exactly have writers block – the words are coming just fine – I have thinkers block, and I have to get over it or this novel won’t really be mine, and that is precisely what the experiment is about. I need something to be mine. It may end up an initial failure. I may decide this isn’t for me, and I can handle that. I’m not worried, yet, that no one else will like my novel. I want to like it. I want to think it’s worth reading. If I don’t, no one else will even get a chance to read it. So for now, I’m just going to write and think and see what happens. Bug me about it so I don’t give up….