Every year, I seem to worry about whether I’ve done enough to prepare for NaNoWriMo. This time, I feel reasonably confident that I’ve got enough outline and historical information to work with – I certainly have just as much as I did last year.
After finishing Caught in the Revolution by Helen Rappaport, I then read Runaway Russia, an account by the American journalist Florence MacLeod Harper, one of the central figures in Rappaport’s book. The Internet can give me the dry facts of how the Russian Revolution proceeded, but I feel these books have given me a good sense of what it was like on the street. There can be no doubt that it was a crazy and difficult time: the more I learn about Petrograd in 1917, the more guilty I feel for sending my protagonist there. It’s not like I haven’t put her through enough already: when I first wrote about her, I killed off her father and brother, and she came pretty close to death herself in last year’s project.
Compared to my other historical fiction projects, I wasn’t as familiar with the Russian Revolution going in as I was with the Titanic and the Lusitania. This has made it difficult to judge how much research is enough, something that Sarah Zama talks about in this blog post. It was certainly easy to get carried away, but based on my rough outline and what I know right now about the characters, I feel I have the right amount of background notes. Any further research will depend on how the story develops. While the history will unavoidably influence the direction of the story at certain points, and has been useful in helping to build my outline, I mainly want it to serve as a backdrop, hence why I’ve given the protagonist her own little quest rather than simply dropping her into the Revolution and having her deal with whatever conflict that generates. I would probably find it difficult to maintain enthusiasm for that story.
Meanwhile, I’ve also made three YouTube videos on NaNoWriMo which I hope people may find helpful. First, explaining the concept for newcomers:
My tips on how to generate ideas and prepare for November:
And my tips on how to keep going through the month:
Good luck, everyone!