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We're now a week into NaNoWriMo, and I'm actually enjoying it a lot. It's been fun revisiting characters from Under Contract, a lot of fun giving a little more screen time to characters who showed up in Under Contract but barely got a mention, and then there's the worldbuilding…

So I'll be honest here: worldbuilding tends to be a means to an end for me. I do worldbuilding as a way to fit the story I want to tell in an environment that fits it, which is very different from a lot of people, who want to tell stories about a certain environment, and figure out characters for that environment later, or who want to tell a story about a particular character in a particular environment and the two are so thoroughly enmeshed that you couldn't remove one from the other without rocks falling and everyone dying.

But I tend to work from characters first, plot/circumstances second, environment third. Which is kind of a pain when it comes time to really ground the audience in the environment.

Rhys Fenton, from Under Contract, is the first POV character I've used who isn't a slave-by-choice. Instead, he's a slave who winds up at Cascade after a few years of serving as a slave-by-the-hour in one of the less prestigious establishments in the Cascade universe. It's great to have a character like that, because it means I can pull some of the story out of the actual Cascade establishment and make some points about what it's like not being in the privileged class in this world (and while I wouldn't say Alex Truman and Gavin Archer originated from the privileged class — and certainly Gavin's background of becoming a slave via financial necessity and staying with Cascade because he doesn't have any other marketable skills [well, he doesn't think so; whether that's true or not is another story] doesn't give him the same kind of wealth privilege that, say, Sam Edwards has — we were very thoroughly located within the privileged environment in Under Contract).

It's also a pain in the ass, because while I really, really like the idea of showing off what life is like for a "normal" slave at Cascade, I don't have blueprints for the building or a typical schedule for a slave already in my back pocket. These are things that I'm having to work out as I write.

Which is slowing down the word count somewhat, although I'm happy to say I have written at least something every day so far for NaNo. I'm over 10,000 words and still going strong. I'm hoping that once I finish off the section I'm working on right now, where we introduce the physical features of the Cascade grounds, I'll pick up some speed — introducing Demetri Brennan's house and what life is like there, and Brian Patrick's house and what life is like there, will be comparatively easy.

(And yes, I'm totally giving away character names on purpose here; here's hoping these were some of the characters that people who have read Under Contract were looking forward to seeing more of. :) )

PS: Yes, I am going to start calling the second book "Magnets", in lieu of a better name. For those who aren't catching the reference, when I first started writing it, I kind of stared at Brian Patrick and looked back at Under Contract and said "You're going to turn from this guy into that guy? With what? Magnets?" Fortunately, the panicked "Magnets?!" phase ended very, very quickly, but the name and sentiment still crack me up, so they're sticking around. For now. :)

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