NaNoWriMo and my 50,000 word novel are almost half way through.
This update will be focused on the setting of the story and the process of writing it.
I made the decision to set my NaNoWriMo novel in Ghana about one week before NaNoWriMo began. Towards the end of that week, I settled on the dense forest area in and around the Nini Suhien National Park and Ankasa Resource Reserve.
Ideally, I would have liked to visit the Ghanaian forest where the story is set to get some first-hand experience but time and cost prevented this. So I used the internet to do some research.
I found photos taken at ground level and taken from walking bridges in the tree canopies. I found government websites, travel blogs, holiday photos, websites detailing wildlife surveys in the area, descriptions of animals and their habitats, videos taken at zoos of the kinds of animals which live in the area, etc. However, these did not provide all of the many many details which go into the experience of actually being there – for example, the sounds and smells of the forest, what the terrain is like at ground level for continuous stretches of space, the level of animal activity and how various animals interact with each other and their surroundings, etc.
In the past day, I got some further advice from Martin Egblewogbe of the Writers Project of Ghana who was kind enough to answer my questions about the specific forest setting I have chosen.
With the action in full swing in the middle of the story, writing it is a matter of blending my continually growing knowledge of the setting with a focus on the characters and their behaviour.
For any writers out there who have never tried writing about a particularly unfamiliar setting, I recommend giving it a try sometime. It can give you an appreciation of many of the little details you know about familiar settings, as well as refine what details you think it is best to know about a setting to convey a character’s experience and what kinds of details about a setting you might not need to convey to tell a story well.
Best of luck to everyone else who is still going with their NaNoWriMo novel.
The Australian Literature Review