With Deviations revision wrapped up and off to beta readers and Aisuru’s promotion pretty much set up and good to go, I’m finally able to focus my attention on getting ready for this year’s NaNo and writing The Girl in the Forest!
When it comes to first drafts, I’m generally what is called a “pantser”, meaning I write by the seat of my pants and start the month with mostly just a concept and maybe a few quickly scribbled notes of scenes or major points that have come to mind. I don’t do story beats, outlines or detailed character sketches or other things planners often do.
For some projects, though, I shifted from pantser to plantser – I still do the writing as I go, just letting the story flow out, but I also do a bit more prep work than normal. For Deviations, for example, I did do story beats and longer character notes so it would be easier to reference details. In those cases, of course, I also remain flexible and change things as the story dictates once the writing gets going – they are suggestions at best.
For writing The Girl in the Forest, my prep work is primarily around research. The story is set in the Aokigahara Forest, so I’m reading as much as I can about it and studying pictures and videos. I’m very particular about getting details on real places correct, especially in the case of something like this where it will be almost as much a character as the two MCs.
I also found some great articles about the forest that included more details and wonderful pictures that will help me have a much better feel for the forests’ nature.
Here are a few of the ones I’ve read and have in my research folder:
- “Aokigahara: Japan’s Haunted Forest of Death” by John at Tofugu
- “Inside Japan’s ‘Suicide Forest’” by Rob Gilhooly at The Japan Times
- “Wandering in Japan’s ‘Suicide Forest’” By James Estrin at The New York Times
- Aokigahara Forest website – an interesting little site run by an unknown person, but that has great pictures
- “Aokigahara Suicide Forest” at Atlas Obscura
- “CREEPY CORNER: My Trip to Aokigahara, Japan’s ‘Suicide Forest’” by Louise Hung at xoJane
- “The Mysterious Suicide Forest of Japan” by Brent Swancer at Mysterious Universe
- “Aokigahara, the most haunted forest in Japan” by Ling Poh Lean at Tsunagu Japan
And of course, I must point to the amazing documentary by VICE which introduced me to the forest in the first place. I saw it a year or two ago and the idea of the forest stuck with me and I believe became the catalyst for The Girl in the Forest coming to me. I only hope I can do this story the justice it deserves!
Aokigahara Forest is well-known for its’ dense foliage, prolific caves, near total silence and lack of wildlife, tales of being haunted, and for being the second most popular place in the world to commit suicide.
A troubled young reporter travels to this hauntingly quiet, yet beautiful place after his rushing a story to press to boost his career left a company in ruins, and the company’s owner, wife, and two children dead from suicide.
While searching for the spot the family died, he stumbles upon a young woman who is getting ready to take her own life. He desperately pleads with her not to do it, which she agrees to but only on the condition that he stays there with her in the forest for one week.
Seven days…that’s all he has to try to find a way to change her mind. If he fails, he’ll have one more death on his hands as he bears witness to her final moments of life.