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Trevor Stone's Journal
Those who can, do. The rest hyperlink.
NaNoWriMo 2007 
26th-Oct-2007 09:11 pm
escher drawing hands
Last year I spent three weeks working on a lame novel and then thought of a better story. In ten days, while sick for much of it, I wrote over 14,000 words toward a goal of 50,000.

Next month (National Novel Writing Month 2007), I'm setting the odometer to 0, but picking my I Ching-based story up. I can write 50,000 words in November, especially since I already have a good sense of characters and my chapters are already laid out for me. You can watch my status or sign up yourself and add me as a "writing buddy." When I got to the "Novel Title" section I figured Sixty Four Chapters About Eight People was a good choice. iTunes random comes in handy yet again.

I've got Huang's translation to use as a base in addition to Wilhelm's. Venerable though it is, some of Wilhelm's quirks were starting to get to me. For one, I found it hard to discern what he meant by key concepts like The Abysmal (water). Wilhelm also had sections I could tell were poorly translated because he used words (such as "God") for which I know ancient Chinese lacked an equivalent with the same philosophical baggage. Huang grew up in China and studied with an old I Ching master when the Communists had banned the book. He explains how the ancient ideograms represent the meaning of the hexagrams, explains senses of the words and a bit of their linguistic evolution, and mentions word choices from other notable authors (Wilhlem and Blofeld). His goal for the book (which took several years and 7 complete drafts) is to provide a faithful translation without interpretation and to provide the reader with an understanding of the gestalt of the hexagrams in addition to their meaning in isolation. I'm sure I'll have more to say about this edition by December, but you could certainly do worse than to buy a copy of The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by the Taoist Master Alfred Huang. (I do object to the term "Taoist Master," but I suppose it helps the book sell.)
27th-Oct-2007 03:52 am (UTC)
I seem to recall you mentioning this I Ching based story to me awhile back...it's an awesome idea, good luck! I totally added you as a writing buddy; I need the peer pressure.
27th-Oct-2007 03:51 pm (UTC)
So each chapter will be a hexagram, and the people are based on the 8 trigrams?

That sounds challenging and interesting.

Are you going with the familial associations of the trigrams, or are you just using the traits of each as jumping-off points?
27th-Oct-2007 05:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Rather than structure the characters as a family (with Thunder as the older brother, Lake as the younger sister, etc.), I have each trigram represented by the leader of a family who controls territory in the associated direction. I did keep with the gender and relative ages of each trigram.

Each chapter describes an interaction between two of them (or the thoughts of one alone) which illustrates in some way the meaning of the corresponding hexagram. The scenario which developed last year is that the land is being invaded and occupied by barbarians and the chapters cover a two year span from before the invasion through disaster and resistance and finally to victory. I wrote in a fairly arbitrary order; what may be the final chapter was written before much in the middle. NaNoWriMo will be about writing chapters, NaNoEdMo will be about tightening up references to other parts of the plot and finessing the characterization.
27th-Oct-2007 05:31 pm (UTC)
That sounds fantastic. I look forward to hearing more. Now, in my head the intriguing storyline was close friends/housemates. Ha ha ha!
27th-Oct-2007 05:38 pm (UTC)
<NBC Pitch Meeting>

"So, basically, this show is like Friends. But instead of six white folks in an apartment in Manhattan, it's eight people in an apartment in Chinatown. And they're all based on the I Ching!"

It's a structure that can be used in lots of ways. Reading the I Ching it was easy to get into a Classical China frame of mind. Maybe next year I'll use the same structure in an entirely different setting. What a hoorayish theme!
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