NaNoWriMo 2007: Oh, crap, my protagonist is smarter than I am.


I attended the first official Lake County NaNoWriMo Write-In last night at the Morley Library in Painesville, Ohio. There were seven people there, including myself, and everyone seemed to be having a good time and at least making an effort to get some writing done. And there were snacks: pretzels and tortilla chips and those rectangular wafer cookies with the frosting…yum.

Every year, I see at least one person writing their novel longhand with pen and paper, and sure enough two of the people at the write-in were busy writing in their notebooks when I arrived. On one hand, if they’re planning to upload their novel for official verification at the end of the month, this means they’ve essentially got to write it twice: once on paper and then a second time when they transcribe it to electronic format. That’s a lot of work. On the other hand, I’ve never seen a pad of paper run out of battery power after only about an hour of writing, and I doubt very much that anyone has ever spent twenty fruitless minutes (or more) trying to get their spiral-bound notebook to connect to a library’s wifi. The pen and paper may not be the most high-tech of noveling tools, but it’s very reliable and far more portable than even my laptop.

I did manage a meager 442 words before my laptop battery died (and me without a power supply), and would likely have gotten a lot more done had I not written myself into a bit of a sticky spot.

Chief Inspector Timothy Remington, Sergeant Michael Shaughnessey, Bannister Proulx and Emma Caldwell are all at the house on Ridgebury Lane. Emma, whose knowledge of human anatomy far surpasses that of Bannister Proulx, has finished her preliminary examination of the two murdered women. In reporting her findings to the Chief Inspector, Emma makes a fairly obvious observation: if the women were killed elsewhere in the house, the killer must have been strong enough to carry them to the bedroom. Chief Inspector Remington notes that it would be a simple matter for a strong man to do so and an even simpler matter for multiple men, at which point Bannister Proulx states that the murders are the work of a single person, acting alone. Remington, quite naturally, asks Proulx how he could possibly know this, especially since the detective had earlier suggested that the killings were done as ritual sacrifices, and rituals are often performed by groups of people.

That’s all well and good. Bannister is certainly correct: there is only one killer. The problem is that I don’t know how he knows. I’m sure he has some terribly logical explanation based on observations he has made since entering the house, but I don’t know what that explanation is.

So I finished typing the question, closed the quote, pressed Enter twice, opened a new quote…and stopped. I haven’t the faintest clue how Bannister knows what he knows, but I’m pretty sure he does. If he doesn’t…well, I’m not in editing mode, so there are no takebacks right now. Perhaps if I decide he doesn’t, I’ll have him explain his reasoning and then have Remington or Caldwell or, worse, Shaughnessey, point out the flaw in his logic. Wouldn’t that just get his goat?

But Bannister cannot know just because I know. I mean, I’m pretty sure he’s not writing the story…yet.

2 responses to “NaNoWriMo 2007: Oh, crap, my protagonist is smarter than I am.”

  1. Rob Avatar

    I could give you a few interesting options as to how Proulx knows the killer acted alone but that would be no fun. Especially as I’m interested to see how YOU handle it.

    Just for the fun of it (of course, I don’t know how your plot goes), if you really want Proulx to throw the others into a tizzy, you have him say something dramatic like this: “How do I know she acted alone? I just know.” See? That “she” is going to wreak all kinds of havoc, ha ha. Probably on your plot.

  2. KJToo Avatar

    Actually, Laura suggested something to me that I may use: Bannister doesn’t have to explain how he knows these things to prove that he’s smarter (or more observant or what have you) than the other characters and/or even me. I could paraphrase her observations, but I wouldn’t do them justice. She did mention House, though.

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