23 Oct 2016

NaNoPrep 2016 - Narrowing Down Again

The local NaNo leaders had a plan-in last weekend that helped with narrowing down my choices.  This time, the choices did go down.  I also got to working out details of settings that should help me during NaNo.

The leading contender* is Ayel and Kristi's story, which now has the working title dba LTV Paranormalists, where dba means "doing business as".  It's good enough for now, and will let me create a file for it.  It's the Scooby-Doo idea where the twist is that ghosts might not exist but the fey do.  The story may turn into a serial; there's enough to the idea to support shorter arcs but not really have a 50 000+ word novel, at least right away.  I've even started research for the story, so I'm ahead of the game here, especially compared to last year.

Of my main characters, I have Ayel Lindeman, business major at Carleton University.  Ayel isn't her given name; she prefers her initials, A-L, over her given name, and people eventually started spelling out the letters much like Artoo and Threepio.  When I checked to see what sort of classes Ayel would have, I discovered that Carleton's Commerce program has an Entrepreneurship concentration, which fits in perfectly with the story concept.  Ayel is the middle child, with an older brother, who has graduated university and has moved out to... somewhere to be determined when necessary, and a younger sister, Tiffany, who is still in high school and can be a minor headache when I need some conflict.  Her parents are Public Servants, and because of their drab names, wanted their children to have names that stood out without necessarily having silent 8s.  Ayel has shoulder length blonde hair, a red/maroon leather Carleton Commerce jacket with her preferred name on the arm.  If she has an early morning class, she grabs what's available, typically a pair of jeans and a sweater.  A later start lets her plan her outfits better.

Kristi Thiessen is turning out to be the instigator of events in the story.  Kristi is also a Carleton student, with a Medieval Studies minor in a major that doesn't want to sort itself out in my head.  Art History keeps coming up, so she may fall into that by default.  Kristi, like Ayel, uses a nickname, but more because she's more a Kristi than a Kristina.  She's the one bringing the group together; she's flighty but she's smart.  Kristi lives on campus, coming from Northern Ontario**.  Her family won't come into play too often, but her neighbours in res will.  I'll have to do some research on the different res buildings at Carleton to figure out which one she'd be in, assuming I just don't create one whole cloth.***  Thanks to Carleton's tunnel system, where students don't have to go outside in winter if they don't want to, Kristi can wear shorts during the day if she feels like it.  She keeps her sandy brown hair long and wavy, though she'll try different styles when the whim takes her.

Kieu Thi Vo almost got renamed.  Instead, Kieu was gender-flipped.  Research into the name revealed that Kieu is feminine, where I originally planned on Kieu being male.  What kept me with the name instead of the gender is the pronunciation which, if I'm reading it right, sounds similar to the letter Q.  As in Quartermaster.  As in Major Geoffrey Boothroyd, as played by the late Desmond Llewelyn.  Kieu is also a Carleton student, majoring in Computer Science.  A quick bit of research to see what changed since I received my degree in the same field showed that the department has expanded greatly and now has Mobile Computing as a possible stream.  Like with Ayel's Entrepreneur stream above, this turn of events works for my benefit and is the main reason why Kieu kept her name.  Kieu revealed a few details about herself afterwards, once of which being a bias against blondes.  That gives me an early conflict but something that will resolve over time.  Where Kieu lives is another question; right now, she may have a home in town, but she's more likely to be in computer labs and coffee shops working on her projects than in her own place.

Thanks to research to see if LTV Paranormalists would need a private investigator license, I needed a fourth character.  Right now, he's somewhat nebulous, not even having a name.  He does have such a license, as mandated by the Province of Ontario.  Kristi has him on retainer, on Ayel's suggestion.  He won't show up right away, but I have a rough idea of his appearance and capabilities.  I do want him to be atypical; he's not a wall of meat doing bouncer work; instead, he's slim, athletic but not pronounced, and capable.

As to whether LTV Paranomalists needs a PI license, the answers is "probably not".  To quote the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
A private investigator licence allows you to be employed and paid to investigate:
  • the character or actions of a person
  • a person’s business or occupation, or
  • the whereabouts of persons or property.
Investigating a property on behalf of the owner for historical purposes, for instance, how a previous owner died on the property, might not qualify.  Historians and genealogists do this sort of research as a matter of course and ghosts, if they exist, might not be legally defined as "persons".  However, I am not a lawyer, and I could counter that "the whereabouts of persons" may also include their grave.  Ayel would do similar research - that's one of the reasons Kristi recruits her help - and would make the suggestion to have someone available if the investigators cross that very fuzzy line and land inside the P.I. regulation.

All the above said, dba LTV Paranormalists wasn't the only idea I worked on at the plan-in.  A second idea, one I had shelved for a bit, returned.  Going back a bit, I had an idea that was one part Tremors and one part Primeval.  I gave it some more thought at the plan-in, and realized that it is also one part Stargate SG-1.  It expanded; not only do I have the survivalist inspired by Burt Gummer of Tremors, but I have a combat historian, inspired by Daniel Jackson of Stargate SG-1, and a zoologist/paleontologist/kaiju expert as the main characters.  I still need to flesh out details like how time travel works for both the invaders and for the Agency defending the planet, but gravity waves are the leading theory.  The temporal invasion is easy to explain - the aliens are trying to terraform Earth into something they can use while also getting rid of the pesky dominant sapient species.  Pity the invaders didn't start before Einstein's hypothesis about gravity wasn't observed.  There's still work to be done, but that didn't stop me with The Elf's Prisoner last year.

With just over a week to go, I may be ready.

* Nothing is definite until November 1st.  Maybe not even after.  If I get stuck, I can fall back on Unruly.
** I am so tempted to have her from Oshawa just to have her make oblique references to the Academy for Unruly Girls.
*** Carleton's residences are named after counties surrounding Ottawa.  I could go for a township inside a county to highlight that the building is ficticious.

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