A new topic - writing. I've done a lot of writing in the past, mostly for myself, mostly fantasy stuff. I can safely say I'm a decent writer. My personal statements have always been very successful, and English was an enjoyable class. Since I'm going to have a lot of down time between interviews this month, and it is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I think I will finally take on the challenge of writing a good, long, well-structured novel. The problem I have always found with novels and stories in general is ending them. I could go on and on, think of new things, never really have a good story arc that feels complete. I plan to PLAN this novel more than past attempts, and try to have a very well-developed world in which it is set. Too often do I focus on the characters themselves, rather than the context in which they are living. And ultimately, the context is what makes many novels memorable and enjoyable. Harry Potter vs Twilight - the most context we get from Twilight is "It's rainy and dark and there are forests nearby and I hate this place! It's all about glittering Edward" vs Harry Potter has huge banquet halls decked with floating candles, the grounds and the forest, multiple classrooms that are visited over and over, changing stair cases, and summers spent in a hellish Muggle relative's house. The setting brings characters to life. Not to mention more details about the world they live in and how it functions. The Ministry of Magic is far more detailed than the Vampire-ati who live in Italy and are randomly tacked on to the second novel and play random roles here and there.
I won't belabor my point - I'm sure most serious authors can look at Harry Potter and Twilight and point out numerous reasons why one is superior to the other. Anyhow, I think I've decided that my setting will be 1760's North America, East Coast, will occur within the greater context of the conflicts between the Natives and the French, the colonists and Great Britain (but in the same way that Hamlet took place in the greater context of a war), and will touch on subjects such as witch trials, apothecaries and alchemy, werewolves (but not in a particularly romanticized fashion), racism and sexism, religiosity and a growing subset of deists and agnostics, the natural world, and perhaps other things as come to mind. Needless to say there is much research to be done, and fleshing out of primary and supporting characters, but I think this will be fun. I made a minor attempt at a story similar to this but it was solely for personal gratification and had no real structure lain out. Hopefully I'll be able to get a lot of writing done, and not just planning and research, but dammit I want to do this right! It will give me a lot of good stuff to do while on the interview trail, as I'll be spending many nights away from home and it's good to have something else to focus on besides the pressure of appearing to be the ultimate applicant for a family residency program.