Monday, March 7, 2011

A Novel Idea

Don't remember how I stumbled across it, but recently my attention was directed towards this New York Times article on why novel writers might take their creations out the backyard, chain them to trees and shoot them. Figuratively of course.

Well, maybe literally in one or two cases. I'd love to hear about those. Anyone?

I tell everyone I know that I've only been writing for a year plus now. I started on flash fiction, moved on to short stories when I felt I had a decent grip on pacing, and moved on and up until now just about everything I write seems to check in around the 10k word mark. I have yet to write a novel, but there are plenty of ideas swirling around beneath my gradually thinning hair. In fact, a few months ago I decided to give novel writing an honest shot.

Two chapters in, going by the glorious chapter-a-month model, I think I'm ready to call it quits. It's not every day that you sit down to write a story and bang out the whole thing in one go. Most days you have a few tinkly crystal moments where you just know what happens next, and if you're lucky it's enough that you can build something off of that without knowing exactly where it's going to take you. This thing? Bloody hell, I have no clue. I have never sat down to work on this thing and ever had even a moment where it's felt like there was a string for me to tug on. That's bad. And it's not like you're supposed to enjoy every moment of your writing life. There are going to be times where you have to trudge on with a project. But this one feels like it's just taking up time and without anything interesting happening.

My protagonist is about the only thing I have a clue about. I like him. Harvey Protagonasto (not the name I've gone with, obviously) is suicidal but immortal. Kind of like Wolverine without the claws, adamantine, muttonchops, fighting ability, attitude or confidence. So I'm left with a suicidal alcoholic masochist. That's really not enough to build several hundred pages on. His evil half-brother makes me want to vomit though. I mean, fuck, evil brother? Hasn't that been done to death? I'm throwing in characters because Harvey needs people to interact with. They're just kind of there without a lot of history or without a history that actually makes sense. There needs to be some kind of sense with character that they are people who would interact in real life, and I don't get that vibe from Harvey, the waitress he knows, his crippled black friend or his evil half brother. (damn it. I even picture him with a mustache.) They just sound like lists of traits.

I like the character and might revisit him some day when I'm older and wiser. For now, it's just not going to work. I'll stick with my stories about mind control crabs and wars between food groups thank you very much.

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