This blog will be a recap on my progress up to 7th April 2017.
Working title of novel: Inauguration Day. Chosen to show a high level of social relevance, referencing the Inauguration of President Donald Trump in January and the numerous protests that followed. Foreshadowed and reflects the narrative of the book, whilst hopefully creating interest due to it’s relevance as a story.
Note: the novel will not be about Donald Trump, nor will it be anything but fiction. It does however stand as an allegory for the left-wing media’s portrayal of the President, and takes place after he has been in Office. He will not be named, but he will and has been referenced through several quotes and ideas (e.g. the “Wall” he plans to build along the Mexican border).
“Arcadia” is the name I am using to market not just Inauguration Day, but the project as a whole. Having been writing and reading casually for years, I have noticed a trend in modern dystopian fiction where the author will write a trilogy or series as opposed to writing one single book. This is especially common in Young Adult fiction, i.e. that with an audience of teenagers to those in their early twenties. For example, both Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” and Veronica Roth’s “Divergent Series” are dystopian trilogies, and James Dashner’s “The Maze Runner” is the first book in a dystopian series. Responding to this, I thought it fit to develop not only a narrative for Inauguration Day, but a narrative spanning three novels which I will go on to write for my own leisure. These novels will be:
Inauguration Day: My response to my EPQ question. This will tell of the beginning of a corrupt new Congressional system, in which any individual not believed to fit with the algorithm of a perfect “Arcadian” society is exiled to the slums.
High Treason: Working title. This will take place after the climax of Inauguration Day, in the labour camp where anybody said to be guilty of treason is sent to be reformed. In this novel we will see the tragic downfall of both the protagonists and of society in general, leading on to…
Impeachment: Working title. This will show dictatorship in it’s most manipulative, and thus dangerous, state. From the ashes of one culture a new society is born, and this society will need a leader.
I have made exceptional progress since my last blog, having completed nearly a quarter of the novel (first draft) already. During my last week of school (week beginning March 27th, 2017) I had several meetings with a range of readers: my supervisor, my Sixth Form director, my former English teacher and a fellow year 12 student. These readers each gave me very similar advice, which I have used to adapt my writing and my work ethic.
- Create more distance between the protagonist and the narrator. Due to the nature of the novel, I chose to write in the 1st person from the point of view of a character whose role is slightly less active than the protagonist. This has already allowed me to create an unnerving tone and the idea of the protagonist being watched, which scored highly as a fear among my survey participants. However, whilst I understood this concept as the writer, the distance between the characters was not shining through for the readers and it was difficult for them to understand that Emma (the protagonist) and Kiesza (the narrator) are two different identities. To solve this problem, I introduced the semantic field of smells to separate the entirely different worlds in which the two characters live: the “sickly-sweet perfumes” of the Congress Building (the home of the privileged narrator), and the foul odours in the slums. After allowing the same readers to read the improved draft, each of them who picked up on this issue said that the distance between Emma and Kiesza is now much clearer, and the unnerving sense of being watched is improved greatly by doing so.
- Too many rhetorical questions. My 17-year-old reader warned me that, whilst she could understand that both Emma and Kiesza were confused and disorientated, she felt that the effect of my rhetorical questions was being lost in their extensive frequency. This was a simple fix; I made sure that, when writing the next draft, I took out any rhetorical questions that didn’t need to be there.
Now that we have reached the Easter Holidays, I have used this opportunity to get as much written and edited as possible, and I have written 1/5 of the 50,000 word limit that I set myself after receiving criticism for giving myself too much work. This is much better progress than I ever believed I would be able to make, and so it has allowed me to think more about a detailed campaign. Due to the social nature of the novel, I need to ensure that my audience are as much a part of the novel as my characters. To do this, I will be launching a detailed marketing campaign which will allow me to build a large and international audience, whilst also subtly subjecting them to the same propaganda as my characters are in the story. I have already set up a Twitter account for the project (@JoinArcadia) On my own website, I have created a page specifically for the project which currently reads “COMING SOON…”, but will eventually house all of my marketing campaign.
The marketing campaign itself consists of multiple segments, which I will release in the following order:
- Social media pages: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to begin with, all blank besides an identical message (“Welcome to Arcadia”) as their first post.
- Development: Including sketches and/or photography created to develop and introduce my characters. These will all be posted online to give my audience a “behind the scenes” view of the creation of Inauguration Day.
- Video introduction: After completing the first draft of the entire manuscript, I will introduce the project via YouTube by talking directly to the camera. This will create a more personal relationship between myself and my audience.4
- Behind the scenes: Videos and photographs documenting the production of my propaganda campaign (below).
- Propaganda: Posters and videos advertising Inauguration Day in the style of propaganda. This will subject my readers to the exact same illusion as my characters, making them feel more involved and thus more strongly to the narrative. A final “book trailer” will be released a week before the book is published.
Whilst this looks like a lot of work, I am confident that I am working at a quick enough pace to be able to get it all completed. My passion for the project and the political message attached is enough motivation for me to want to keep going, and I have no doubt that this will only be increased as I progress through the novel. In addition to this, the first section of the campaign is made up of work that I already complete as part of my natural writing process, and so this will add no additional pressure to my workload. I have found that, since starting my EPQ, my time management has become less of a problem as the structured work timetable I have created has allowed me to structure all of my subjects effectively. In fact, doing so has improved my performance in other subjects as I am now so used to sticking to a schedule.