Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Beautiful Books #1: The Venice Novel

This month (and for the next two months), Cait and Sky are doing something special. Instead of talking about our characters (our beautiful people) we're talking about our novels! Thus:
I will be talking about my novel set in Venice, which is my main WIP currently (as I'm sure you know, if you've been reading any of my writing posts at all).

On to the questions! (Which are, of course, on plot. Oh crap.That's my weakness.)
1. What came first: characters or plot idea? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Actually, neither characters nor plot idea came first. Characteristcally for me, it was setting that started this whole business. I get inspired by places. In this case - my trip to Venice last May/June. 
And I am neither a plotter or a pantser. (Look at me, already breaking the system on the first question.) I am a plantser - which is exactly what it sounds like. I'm basically at the 50/50 ratio for pantser/planner. 
2. Do you have a title and/or a "back-cover-blurb"?

It is tentatively called City of Light and Darkness. I don't like that title - it seems too vague right now. But hey - my plot is vague right now, so I guess it sort of fits?
I'm hoping it gets re-titled soon. In my head, it's just "The Venice Novel."

As for back-cover-blurb - oh yes I have one!

Zaneta Soranzo has maskmaking in her blood. The Soranzi family has long been known as the best maskmakers in the entire Republic of Venice - it is rumored that they can imbue life into their masks. But when Zaneta's father dies, leaving an unfinished mask and a secret, she is pulled into a mystery that threatens danger to her business, her family, and all of Venice.  
Angelo da Vale has two desires - justice, and revenge. God may be the ultimate Judge in Heaven, but on Earth - or at least in Venice - da Vale has taken justice into his own hands. As the de facto leader of the Council of Ten, the main judicial body in Venice, da Vale rules with a heavy hand. The deserving must be punished, and punished according to the magnitude of their crime. No quarter can be given. 
Two souls, each hiding a secret. Two souls, one young and hopeful, one bitter and full of resentment. Two souls - with paths soon to cross in a way neither could have forseen. 
Masks are not always crafted out of clay and paper. Masks can also be the creation of the heart - the result of fear, and the desire to protect the innermost self. And even as a Carnivale reveler can be unmasked by a clever hand, so can the soul unknowingly reveal it's deepest secrets.
 Okay, that's sort of long for a back cover. 
3. What wordcount are you aiming for when your novel is finished?

50,000 for now. Possibly 70,000 by the end of the whole process. 
4. Sum up your novel in three sentences.

Female maskmakers are not appreciated during the Renaissance, and Zaneta learns this the hard way. She also learns that falling in love with masked strangers is probably not the best method of entering into a healthy relationship. Thirdly - severe men with daddy issues should not be put in charge of doling out justice to a large group of people.
5. Sum up your characters in one word each.

Zaneta Soranzo - overflowing
Nicolo Dolfin (Zaneta's friend/love interest) - hesitant
Angelo Da Vale - ambitious
Franciso Caravello (steward of the Doge) - earnest
Caterina (daughter of the Doge) - composed
The Doge [sadly unnamed as yet] - avaricious
Bartolomeo Soranzo (Zaneta's dad) - huggable
Besina Soranzo (Zaneta's mom) - constant
You won't believe how quickly I did these - except for Zaneta's. That one took me forever. It just seems to work.
6. Which character are you most excited to write? Tell us about them!

Da Vale. Totally da Vale. I've been writing his backstory over the last week or so, and I could literally write a whole novel just about how he got to where he is, and why he is this strange and mysterious and ambitious and desperate and revengeful and twisted man. 
I am going to have SUCH fun writing him. I already am having such fun. 
7. What about your villain? Who is he, what is his goal?

Uh - see #6? Da Vale is my villain. He is a member of the council of Ten, the main judicial body of Venice, and sees it as his duty on earth to bring punishment to the guilty. There's all this stuff about his dad and bad family dynamics and desire for revenge that practically guides his life. 
(If you are interested, da Vale was featured in two Beautiful People posts, here and here. Note that these were written before I discovered his backstory.)
8. What is your protagonist's goal? And what stands in the way?

THIS is where my plot fails me. I've been working so hard on characters and da Vale's side of the story that I haven't really figured out where my protagonist fits in. (This is not a good situation to be in, let me tell you.)
So. She has a few different goals, right now. Firstly, she wants to run her mask shop. By herself. And the customs of the times dictate that women can't run artisan businesses alone. So that's one issue.
Another goal is to get out of being accused of murder. So yeah, that's a pretty big problem too. 
But the murder is something I'm currently working on. It popped into my story so conveniently, but then was like haha you thought I was going to be EASY, huh? NOPE. It has many issues of it's own, particularly who the heck was the murderer?
9. What inciting incident begins your protagonist's journey?

It's not just one. It's two loaded on top of each other. (We writers like to make our protagonists really suffer.)
First of all, she meets a really chill guy who unfortunately has a mask on (not creepy - it's Carnevale) and won't tell her his name, even though she told him hers (sorta creepy).
Then, her father dies. Not a pleasant turn of events.
10. Where is your novel set?

Duh. Antarctica.
(It's actually Venice, if you haven't been paying attention.)
11. What are the three big scenes in your novel that change the game completely?

~Zaneta realizes whom she's really in love with.
~A murder is discovered.
~Da Vale must judge his own father's trial.
12. What is the most dynamic relationship your character has? Who else do they come in contact with or become close to during the story?

Hm. Obviously, with a star-crossed kind of romance going on, Zaneta and Nicolo are going to have to work through some things. But I really want to develop Zaneta's relationship with her mother - their personalities are just similar enough to make them close and loving, but just opposite enough that they have quite their share of conflicts.

13. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Eh... we're working on this. For now, let's aim for less quick judgments, more thinking before acting, and less bias towards people unlike herself.
I'm guessing we'll probably see the most progress in the last one.

14. Do you have an ending in mind, or do you plan to see what happens?

I don't have an ending in mind just yet. But I also don't want to just see what happens. I'm hoping at least a vague ending will reveal itself while I plot during this pre-NaNo week.
15. What are your hopes and dreams for your book? What impressions are you hoping this novel will leave on your readers and yourself?

Well, I want this sucker to be published. 
Never mind, let's start small. I want to actually edit it and obtain a second draft. Then we can think about sharing it with... a very small and select group of people?
As for impressions on readers? A deep and unshakable desire to go to Venice. 
The sort of lightheadedness that comes from reading that kind of book. 
For myself? Gosh, I've already got that desire to visit Venice, and I was there just six months ago! Wanderlust is always fun.
 Are you writing a novel (for NaNo or otherwise)? Try this linkup! And if you are doing NaNo - buddy me! I'm Philomena in the NaNoverse.


  1. Hmm, I think I'm, rather a pantser whatever this word exactly means. I never start with a plot or anything, usually I've got some characters and the place where they are, the rest is quite misty when I make up stories...

    1. Ah I envy you, being able to just jump in. I used to be that way, but then I slowly became more of an outliner. Are you doing NaNo?

    2. Probably I'll have an internet-free November this year. I think I'll take that time anyway to write, without NaNo. But I think next year I'll try NaNo at least once.

    3. Internet free for one month! That's quite a challenge :-)

  2. OMG, I'm so excited that it was setting that got your idea started because it was the same for me (well world-building more-so, but same idea). I felt like I was such a weirdo, but seeing how cool your book sounds I know I am in good company :) Good luck in NaNoWriMo!

    Kat @ Readiculous Blog

    1. Oh that's awesome! I love it when the setting sort of becomes a character in itself.

      Good luck to you too!


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