No intro this time, we get right into the meat of it!
Impromptu Table of Contents
- Final Entry: Part 9, M.N.P.
- 8th Entry: Part 8. M.N.P.
- 7th Entry: Part 7 M.N.P.
- 6th Previous Entry: Part 6 M.N.P.
- 5th Previous Entry: Part 5 M.N.P.
- 4th Entry: Part 4 M.N.P.
- 3rd Entry: Part 3 M.N.P.
- 2nd Entry: Part 2 M.N.P.
- 1st Entry: Part 1 M.N.P.
I said I would do this, didn’t I? True, it’s about, oh, going on a month late but better late than never. What is it I’m rambling on about, you may ask? Well, the title of this post may help with that, but if you just dove into this, you spelunker of words, you, then I shall tell you why we are all gathered here today. I am here to reflect on a little something I decided to do called M.N.P., or Miniature Narrative Project. It was a kind of makeup for my failure to do any kind of documenting of my writing over November, i.e. NaNoWriMo. Of course, I was still chunking away on Landfall, which has become virtually a biological process at this point, but I wanted to try something new to spice things up.
The rules that I decided to follow for this project, which spanned the very end of November to the very beginning of January went as follows:
- A consistent and persistent narrative must somehow emerge from all of the entries I have made for the Project.
- I can only sculpt the story using Friday Fictioneer and Five Sentence Fiction entries.
- The exception to rule #2 is that I must end the entire Project with a short story entry with the prompt set forward by Featured Fiction.
Note: Featured Fiction was eventually set aside as the source of inspiration after my own mother gave me a prompt to work with, so I decided to go with that instead.
- (This wasn’t so much of a rule as a tradition I wanted to keep doing because it was fun) I must have at least one not-provided fiction included in each minus (minus the final one) to help provide atmosphere and fill out the fictive world.
Pretty simple, right?
Yes, actually. Firstly, I’d like to say that the rules I made seemed fairly flexible but also restrictive. I wasn’t locked into any specific genre of style of writing, so I found myself experimenting as I went along, going from a more omniscient third-person style (Entry 1,2, and 3) to a more third-person free-indirect style (Entry 6, 7, and 8). Also, I decided to keep myself strictly within the bounds of Friday Fictioneers and Five Sentence Fiction, meaning the former entries were no more than 100 words and the latter had no more than five complete sentence. Even that wasn’t a particularly huge challenge. Then again, I’ve been working with both of those challenges for several months and it was just a matter of saying more with less. Indeed, the biggest challenge in this entire project was getting all of the little disjointed narrative moments to link up since both challenges were based on either pictures (Friday Fictioneers) or a single word (Five Sentence Fiction).
However, I found that I was able to sculpt something like a narrative fairly well from what I was given and the relatively small amount of space I had to work with. I will make the point though, that even though I don’t wish I had imposed greater restrictions and more guidelines on myself as I did the project (mostly because I’m fairly fond of the finished product), I think if/when I do a project similar to this again, I’m going to make it just a bit harder on myself. But now, let’s look at the narrative structure of the story as a whole.
Entries 1 & 2: Both of the first entries were from Friday Fictioneers and both of them, conveniently and coincidentally supplied me with what I needed to establish some background about the world so I could start sculpting the narrative with something solid beneath it. I think the picture offered in the December 5th (Entry 2) Friday Fictioneers really saved the narrative in the Project, though. Having gone with such a wonky idea for Entry 1, while unsurprising for me, it may not have been the best idea for me pursue something in speculative fiction in such a limited format.
OR, this limited format was the perfect time for me to try something bizarre! Challenge the speculative fiction format! Give it the old one-two until its nose bleeds and loses its molars! Regardless, I think the establishment of the world worked rather well, setting up the wider conflict by Entry 2 with the Page-Burners and book-munchers already being at odds.
Entry 3 followed logically afterwards. It was a bit too short for my liking, but that’s always how it is with Five Sentence Fiction. Still, I thought I had established the whispers of a real plot relatively early-on. Although, here’s a fun fact: I had no idea what the plot was actually going to be when writing Entry 3. I thought there was going to be some kind of giant magical printing press underground that pumped out all of the text that kept the people fed/warm. Instead of opting for the more high-fantasy-esque kind of a plot though, I decided to go with something a bit more human. In a weird kind of way. See below for the stunning conclusion!
Entry 4 marked the continued creep towards the escalation of the plot and also introduced the first picture to be used as a way to supply completely new information and not just elaborating on/illustrating information I already mentioned. And no, I never did look up the pictures I used before writing the entries. They just happily stumbled into my lap when I seemed to need them most. I think Entry 1 would have been much less permanent as a concept to me if I didn’t find that bizarre diagram of a child eating a book.
I think I knew this would happen when I started this Project, but as I continued writing, I found that almost all of my Entries were simply setting up for a larger plot and resolution which I would neatly tie with a bow in the final short-story entry. Entry 5 concerned the yet-unnamed Due and Syl’s efforts to craft a plot to catch the author-killer. Entry 5 and 6 were probably the slowest of all of the Entries, which I feel like is an unfortunate fact of reality for the middle parts of the story to always be the slowest. I think Entry 6 was not only the slowest entry but was also the one that moved the story forward the least. It did help to sculpt the rising action to come though, and the atmosphere that hadn’t been touched in a while since the narrative was really plowing forward for the last few Entries.
However, I felt that Entry 7 was my weakest, possibly because I was trying to sculpt an entire character, his personality, and his motivations with only 100 words. I actually needed to use the added picture in order to get the silly story to work at all. And yet, 7 and 8 had the closest thing to real movement and narrative mobility. This probably came from the fact that all of the Entries were tied together spatially, meaning one comes right after the other. Though, I was a little disappointed to look back and see that Entry 7, which introduced Somn, didn’t really clarify whether or not he had killed Bessmore as well. And yet, at least only Entry 8, which I thought was rather enjoyable for its action and sense of humour, stood in the way between the micro-Entries and the big #9.
Speaking of Entry 9, I thought that everything that had previously been written in the micro-Entries came together quite nicely. All things considered, at least. I honestly fell the most in love with the names more than anything else, them being Due, Syl, Bon, and Somn. They were just so fittingly weird. And they were completely hashed out of nowhere when about halfway through the writing I had no idea what these characters were called. Aside from that though, I went with a rather everyday kind of character interaction that’s typical of my 2-person teams. One’s dry and the other’s snarky. Pretty simple. Then there’s the gentleman villain and the big-eyed innocent person who wants to know more than he/she does. Really, it’s standard fair for me. Do I think this is a bad thing? Not necessarily (especially if I was going to expand on it later and show how developed and diverse they could really be). I would have been more off-put if Entry 9 was an actual ending for the story as a whole. Naturally, after going into the world’s lore and set of troubles too much already, I didn’t think I could actually finish off the story with just one short story.
That being said, I wish I somehow managed a way to make some kind of final impression on the Project. However, writing by the seat of my pants as I was throughout the whole process (Entry 9 in particular), I didn’t know how else to handle the narrative but to leave it open for more details and expansion. Honestly though, I wouldn’t object to coming back to this story someday. No idea what I’ll be doing with it but hey, it’s an open door, right?
So, in general I find that this first Miniature Narrative Project worked rather well. To lay it all out:
- Fully-sculpted world
- Odd and enjoyable characters in Entry 9
- Pictures used in the Entries helped to sculpt more of the world and give some funny details here and there
- A relatively well-paced story through the micro-Entries
- The plot of the micro-Entries used its lack of details to create something close to real atmosphere and suspense
- Incomplete story, ending with cliffhanger/sequel bait
- As of Entry 9, the characters seemed to be rather standard-fair for me
- I had to rely on some of the pictures used in order to get across information I simply didn’t have space for or wasn’t able to condense efficiently enough
And yet, I still think that this kind of pseudo-NaNoWriMo went over nicely. It was a bit chunky here and there but I think the generally bizarre atmosphere and screwball plot congealed rather nicely into a rather tasty jam. Which was then spread on toast and eaten as a nutritious breakfast. I’m totally doing this whole adventure again someday. It was just too much fun not to. And hopefully those who read the last M.N.P. will enough the next one too!
Arbitrarily-Assigned Grade: B+
To answer a question that may be in your head(s, if you’re a two-headed ogre), I have no idea when I’ll be doing this again. Possibly twice every year, once at the end of the year, meaning the month of December, and in the exact middle of the year, meaning the middle of June to the middle of July. Roughly. I’d rather have a very neat line down the middle but regardless, that’s several months off, meaning I can just shove it onto the shelves in my brain and ignore it for a while. Kind of like this whole reflection post, actually.
But I got it done, darnnit!
Good luck, you brave writer folk!