Fiction Blog, The Desertera Series, Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

The Evolution of My NaNoWriMo Novel – The Cogsmith’s Daughter

Recently a fellow blogger, coffeennotes, wrote a three-part series on her  “Writing Secrets,” in which she described her writing process. Today, I want to take a leaf out of her book and be a bit more transparent. I realized that I have never actually shared with you all anything concrete about the novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo. In case you are new to my site (if so, hello!), I recently participated in and won NaNoWriMo 2014 and have walked away with plans to revise and independently publish my the resulting novel. In this post, I want to tell you all more about my novel and the inspirational process behind it.

Title: The Cogsmith’s Daughter

Genre: Dystopian steampunk with a strong romantic subplot

My visual inspiration for Aya Cogsmith.

Brief Synopsis: In the land of Desertera, three crimes are punishable by death: murder, treason, and adultery. When Aya Cogsmith’s father is sent to execution by King Archon for treason, she is thrown into poverty and forced to turn to prostitution for her livelihood. For ten years, Aya shares this life with her best friend, Dellwyn, until one day, Lord Varick, Marquess of the Stern, offers her a way out. Like Aya, Lord Varick has lost a loved one at the hands of the king, and he is ready for vengeance and a regime change. All Aya has to do is agree to trap the king in adultery, a fate King Archon has inflicted on many of his wives, and Lord Varick will help Aya reclaim her old life. However, when Aya enters palace politics, she learns that no one can be trusted–not even Willem, the gorgeous young nobleman whom she would much rather seduce.

To answer your questions: Yes, I know I’m terrible at synopses. No, this will not be my book blurb.

The Germ of an Idea: The tiniest germ of an idea for this novel came to me in university, while I was formatting Wiki pages for one of my English professor’s classes. The class was about The One Thousand and One Nights (aka The Arabian Nights). If you are unfamiliar with the story, the basic premise is that a Persian king believes all women are unfaithful, so he marries virgins and then kills them after bedding them. In the story, his newest queen tells him fantastical stories that end with a cliffhanger every night before bed to keep him from taking her virginity and then killing her the next morning.

This concept made me think: what if adultery were punishable by death in this world? And, what if the king used that to his advantage, either tricking or framing his wives into adultery so he could get a new wife whenever he were bored of one?

The Recording of the Idea: Once this idea hit me, I knew it was worthy of The Notebook. You know The Notebook: it’s that standard notebook that writers are told to carry at all times for when inspiration strikes. Luckily, as you can see from the image, I had mine handy and recorded away.

Spoiler Alert: This is not what happens at all.
Spoiler Alert: This is not what happens at all.

The Subconscious Plotting: I am a big believer in the subconscious as a realm of creativity. I feel like mine must have done a lot of the legwork for me, because even though I did not return to this idea until it was time to select a novel for NaNoWriMo 2014, I had dozens of scenes imagined the moment my eyes spotted my notes.

The Mood: Originally, I intended this story to be set in a desert landscape, much like The Arabian Nights. However, for some reason, when I described the story to my husband, he said “steampunk,” and it just clicked. My vision is nothing like the one he originally imagined, but I think my genre and setting create the perfect mood. Steampunk without steam. 

The Conscious Plotting: Once I decided on my genre and setting, I moved to conscious plotting of my basic scenes and even drew a map of my world — for fun and my own logistical reference. For a full overview of my plotting process, go here.

The First Draft: Again, I will discuss this in a later post, but obviously, after planning came drafting. My first draft ended up being 80,060 words, all written within the 30 days of November.

The page count, when formatted to mimic CreateSpace's parameters.
The page count, when formatted to mimic CreateSpace’s parameters.

The Expansion: Originally, I intended for The Cogsmith’s Daughter to be a stand-alone novel. However, the world demanded a series before I wrote a single word in my first draft. I have plans to make it a six book series. The first five books will each be from the perspective of a different character in the series, and the sixth book will be a combination of the five characters’ perspectives.

The Title: The title came about, because the entire book is about Aya and her journey. I couldn’t think of anything more fitting than to name it after her. Even though most authors say they change titles many times, I do not foresee mine changing at all. It just fits the genre and mood, and given that each book will be from a different perspective, it sets up a solid theme to continue.

The Next Steps: I plan to revise The Cogsmith’s Daughter in January-February 2015, after which I will open it up to beta readers and solicit professional editors. I hope to have it published and available for purchase by next November, NaNoWriMo 2015.

Thank you all for reading. I hope you enjoyed a better glimpse into the fruits of my NaNoWriMo labors!

What was the initial inspiration behind one of your favorite manuscripts? What is your NaNoWriMo 2014 novel about and what do you plan to do with it? Let me know!

37 thoughts on “The Evolution of My NaNoWriMo Novel – The Cogsmith’s Daughter”

  1. This sounds so interesting, Kate! And yes, Daniel was absolutely correct when he said “steampunk” because it sounds like it fits your world perfectly. I am hoping to someday get back to all of my series (I have way more than I should sitting around unwritten), but I know you have a plan for yours. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh, many of them are partially written or at least started. That’s my problem, finishing! I’m really hoping to finally finish something so that I can go back and finish all the others that are waiting patiently on me. 🙂 Maybe during camp, we’ll see!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Finishing is really darn difficult. I’ve only managed to finish this one manuscript so far, and honestly, if it weren’t for all the external pressure I placed on myself, I may not have even done it. However, once you figure out what works for you, I think it becomes easier to actually finish. I suppose I’ll see if that’s true when I start manuscript #2 soon.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s lovely to hear about your process and your synopsis sounds wonderful! I really enjoyed ‘The Arabian Nights’ so I love that you used that as a springboard, and love even more that you took that kernel and put it in a different time and place.

    I’ve only read steampunk in shorts and am still learning about the genre. I received the impression from what I have read in the genre that it’s essentially the Victorian era reimagined with mechanical, steam-powered influences rather like some of Jules Verne’s work.

    You mentioned that your novel is steampunk minus steam. What aspects then make it steampunk as opposed to alternate history Victorian era?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Essentially, the idea is that my novel’s world was once the typical Victorian-inspired steampunk world. The “without steam” is where the Dystopian aspect emerges. Picture a typical steampunk world that has undergone a near apocalyptic drought, leaving the people in a desert world where there is not enough water for both survival and powering their steam machines.

      I hope that explains the concept a bit better. It is a lot easier to grasp in the context of the novel. Thank you for your encouragement and for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, brilliant! I thought I was just misinterpreting the core aspects of steampunk, but you’re doing a post-apocalyptic steampunk. What a fun concept and a perfect backstory for it!

        It sounds as if you’ve brought all sorts of intriguing concepts together for this book. I so look forward to seeing how you explore them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Firstly awhhhh thank you… second loved reading about your novel, ideas and I love the steampunk look on the image. I love reading about people’s writing process and how their mind come up with ideas, so cool of you to share all the details. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing post, Kate, so inspirational.
    The inspiration for my NaNo novel was my love for strong female characters and the frustration of (despite saying otherwise) perfect heroines. I wanted to do something new, something on a far more deeper level, and thus my heroine was created. After that everything fell more and more into place.
    The NaNo draft will never be edited or otherwise worked on, since my story changed so much from the initial idea. It’s more like a beacon to me, to remind me that yes, I can write 50+k words in 14 (!) days.
    I’ve just finished my outline for the second draft and hopefully will be able to start writing it on the weekend. But I’m currently working on the prologue that won’t make it in the final MS.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I love that your novel has become a beacon for you and a reminder of your creative potential. Maybe it’s the writer’s romanticism coming out, but I think that is truly beautiful. I, too, am a huge fan of flawed, strong female characters, and I hope that I have created three for my novel. Congratulations on your NaNoWriMo success and good luck moving forward with your writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Ben Y. Faroe and commented:
    Happy Friday, everyone!

    I found this today and thought I’d share it. Looks like a great concept by a serious new author, and the behind-the-scenes process notes are cool.

    I find projects (and websites) like this incredibly satisfying. I love it when an author has clearly taken the time to think through her content and presentation to deliver high-quality, worthwhile material. And I’m just talking about the website – the book itself looks like it’s going to be killer.

    Any other serious new authors doing great work out there? Point me in their direction. I eat this stuff up.


    Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure!

        It’s such a delight to see someone taking an indie author career seriously and doing quality work even in the early stages. I know indie publishing opens up the possibility of a ton of low-quality work on the market, but it also gives a brand new chance for committed people who do good work and deliver consistently to succeed in ways that weren’t very feasible before.

        I find that incredibly exciting. So I want to find people like you and do my part to help you get great stories into the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you. I agree completely. The decision to go indie should not be taken lightly and is definitely not for everyone. It requires hard work and dedication, not to mention a lot of business sense and forethought to be done correctly. I’m glad to know that I am representing myself and the indie community well at this stage in my journey. And I am sure I speak for the larger community when I say that I really appreciate people like you who recognize and support indie authors. So, thank you again. You made my day.

        Liked by 1 person

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