The Filthy Monkey, It Plans (many apologies to Warren Ellis)
According to the rules, I can plot and plan all I want to before 1 Nov, I just can't do any actual writing that will end up in the result. So now I'm going to try to figure out what the heck I'm gonna do.
Dorothea set up a pretty clear starting point, and I'm going with that, in part because I think it's an intriguing idea, and in part because I'd otherwise be at a complete loss for a concept. So. Don Quixote. It's been ages since I've read it, although some elements are familiar, but another problem is that my copy of the novel is packed away in a box somewhere in a shed in Concrete, Washington, along with the majority of my personal library. So: should I bother borrowing/ buying another copy to refer to, or just follow a study guide Cliff's Notes type thing to remind me of what I've forgotten? My creative instinct tells me not to bother going through what Cervantes has written too closely. I know the big themes, I know the aura. I don't have the intimate familiarity with the story that Dorothea has, and so I might fail that way, but hey-- the goal is to churn out a crappy short novel in a month. So if I can do that, there's a chance I can clean it up and make it respectable later. Plus I'm lazy and don't want to hunt down a copy of a book I already own.
At it's core, Don Quixote describes a clash between truth and fantasy. There's obviously the satirical elements, but we can also see that there's a resonance in the Don's attempts to be chivalrous. And it's also got layers of story going on: there's the story in the Don's head, where he's a valiant knight performing good works for the favor of the Lady Dulcinea. There's the reality that the Don inhabits externally, where Sancho Panza is a fat laborer on a donkey and not a squire, and those princesses are actually prostitutes, and he's basically a laughingstock or feared by those who encounter him. Then there's Cervantes, butting in on a meta-level and telling us the whole time that his ridiculous story is an historical account.
These are the key things that I want to incorporate into my story. I don't know if I'd inject myself into the book the way Cervantes did, but I definitely want to give the book that layered feel, that there's more than one "reality" operating. And I want that half-tango/ half-fistfight between what's factual and what's fantasy.
I haven't decided on a setting. It would be kind of fun to set it here in Sydney, but I don't really feel like I know Sydney yet. It's like asking someone you hardly know if you can come over and soak in their hot tub. A bit too intimate too soon for me. That leaves California, who I don't really know anymore, or Washington, for whom I'm still feeling the teeniest bit nostalgic. I don't really want to set it somewhere I haven't been before.
I'll stick with Dorothea's outline for a main character:
I suspect this book would be called "urban fantasy" by someone who had never read Cervantes. I very much imagine my protagonist as a not-quite-young woman in a 2003 McJob, a little lost, maybe a little boho. Like the Don, she reads too damn much, and it turns her head a little, and she wanders.
Refinements of that character to follow. I'll need to make friends with her properly.
Other than that, I'm leaving the doors wide open to whimsy and the creative process. We'll see where we go from here.