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The Grovel Halfway through the new novel   Leave a comment


NOTE: This image has nothing to do with writing, although imbibing liquor tends to be part and parcel of a writer’s M.O.


So I felt like writing about all the connectors that start to fall in place at this point. I’ve probably mentioned it before, when I was writing Naked As The Day, but each time I reach this point something interesting happens.

Basically, the kinds of stories I’m tackling right now are a bit… abstract in some ways. I take a central idea (love, loss, regret, passion) and then weave that into a narrative involving a character that grows and grows until it becomes a story. So far, I realize the stories I’ve written (which are heavily character driven ) require a lot of character development to carry the plot (which isn’t always the most important aspect of the story). After all what is plot? Do I need villains lurking about and mysterious men with Israeli army training making offers people can’t refuse? Not in this project. But I did have some difficulty starting this novel for that reason.

“Abstract ideas” are really what they are… abstract. If I see a man on the road crying beside his son, who is listening to his iPod and I am moved to tell a story leading up to that moment. Where do I start? Who is the man, who is the boy and why isn’t he reacting, why is the man crying in the street? These are the questions that were pounding in my head during the preparation of my new novel, which was based on the premise of a suicidal man who meets a girl the night he wants to kill himself, a girl who takes him out of his malaise.

But the story is a lot more complex than that, since I had to dig deep into the environment of Kingston and create an atmosphere that justifies the protagonist’s weirdness. This was the “abstract” that was a bit tough to figure out. The tone of his voice, his perceptions on the world, the scenarios he finds himself in good or bad, his background his pain, his sexual proclivities, all things that need to be set in stone to flesh out a character.

So after writing and plotting out a few chapters, I found that the writing so far is more dense. In my first two novels I had shorter chapters that set a pace to what was happening. Because this one is more open-ended, the chapters are much longer. For comparative purposes, Naked As The Day had a total of twenty six chapters, running at 75,00 words (2,800+ words per chapter). I’m currently at 41,000 words for the new book and on Chapter nine (average 4,555+ words per chapter). I don’t’ think this means that I’m going to have twenty-six chapters of the new book which will turn it into a 100,000 word book. Probably during the editing I will break up some of the chapters, but for now they tend to run eight to ten pages each. This actually fits with the mode of the story and the “stream of thought” manner in which is it written. This book can easily end at fifteen or seventeen chapters, since that will take the book into 150 page territory, which is my aim.

But my main observation now is that the “sense of the universe” I’ve created is much clearer. There is less doubt about how to write certain things and deciding when to introduce certain character and conflicts. I guess this might be a repetitive theme with my observations, but sometimes when you create a story from nothing and it starts to take shape, going from 4 pages to 80, there is just something about that which makes me feel as if I’m doing something correctly. So there is still significant writing to do, but from this point on I feel like I’m closer to figuring out all the little angles that were confounding me when I started this book. I can see how something’s might play out as I push towards wrapping up the first draft.




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