I’ve done NaNoWriMo before; in fact, I’ve probably done it a bit too much. The format is wonderful, and if you’ve never tried it before I urge you to get involved (throw yourself in the deep end – start today!) But, while I have a novel I want to draft, I don’t want to force it through the meat grinder that is NaNoWriMo. So instead, I’m going to steal the mentality of NaNoWriMo, and adopt it into my own November challenge.
I’m going to work on drafting a choice based visual novel. I’ve already outlined the script, and intend to finish writing and tweaking it in the first week of this challenge. But the breadth of the work in this project actually falls to the visual art component. I’ve dabbled in art in the past and consider myself competent enough, but I’ve always wanted to improve. By combining writing and drawing in a visual novel, I can develop my skills in a new form. This was actually my original reason for doing NaNoWriMo when I did it in 2013 for the first time: I wanted to develop my novel writing skills instead of continually rehearsing short stories.
A script is never going to be 50,000 words, and the coding aspect of the project is minimal since I’ll be using Ren’Py to compile the novel, so instead I’m counting this project in a very abstract way. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; to hit my NaNoWriMo goal I must therefore make 50 frames of my Renpy project. The idea of making two full drawings a day for 30 consecutive days is somewhat daunting to a non-artist (I can hear the visual artists chuckling at my pain). To make this more manageable, colouring the frames is optional, since the colouring will be done digitally and the original sketches are done by hand, so it makes more sense to colour everything in one go later. This also obviously lessens the burden slightly.
Although I’ve played video games for as long as I can remember, I’ve never actually made a full one. I’ve occasionally dabbled in coding here and there, but honestly nothing that big. So while working on this project, I’ll be learning to code in Ren’Py. I’ve been told that Ren’Py is relatively easy to learn how to use, and that the main reason it’s avoided is because of the massive artistic demands it makes. So lets hope that’s true, because I’m much better at making masses of drawings than I am learning new coding languages.
I fully acknowledge that this doesn’t fit into the traditional NaNoWriMo structure, but I plan to get involved in the community anyway as I go along – so I’ll continue to appropriate the NaNoWriMo name, tag, and title of participant. If that causes any problems, deal with it. Or send me a message.
Best of luck to my fellow NaNoWriMoers, and let the games begin!