Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Long Awaited Post About Writing

About a year ago, I finished writing the first version of a novel. Please, hold your applause. It was good. I liked the characters and most of the words were even spelled correctly. I passed it around to a few people who agreed to be my test subjects. They all liked the story, more or less but weren't all that enthusiastic about it. I got a few notes back form these fine readers suggesting some improvements but mostly just comments along the line sof, "It was good." Which is nice to hear but not very instructive on how to make it great.

Along about six months ago I had a revelation concerning the story. It's major problem was the main character, a twenty something wannabe poet named Simon whose uncle, after disappearing mysteriously for twenty years, returns home, only to commit suicide. The existential crisis this event causes in Simon is resolved a little too quickly and then I move on to a larger section devoted to Simon's sister, Lilly, a devout catholic teenager who becomes pregnant. The problem is, if Simon is the main character, why do I resolve his problems early on? This conundrum is amplified by the fact that he meats Inez, a mortician who has clairvoyant dreams and they start dating. Their relationship isn't the problem, exactly, but what is is that she's a much more interesting character. This is what I realised six months ago.

So, I decided to rewrite the entire novel, but make it about Inez Vespertine, the mortician. Simon is now a secondary character, as is his mysteriously pregnant sister. Their uncle still dies but his story, alas, is left mostly untold. He's basically just an excuse for a funeral, where Simon and Inez meet.

I'm about thirty pages into this new draft and it's going well, though at times, the story seems on the verge of splitting into numerous little subplots, Inez and Simon's relationship (more rocky and unpredictable) being just one of them. There's also Astrid, Inez's best friend, a lesbian who has a crush on Inez and something happening with a man with a mustache who has a little notebook that he is writing something in, but what, I don't know just yet.

At present, these are little mysteries. Part of the writing process that is most enjoyable, in my opinion, is finding out what will happen with them, seeing where they lead me.

A question for the regular and irregular readers out there in Interweb land: If I were to post a few sections as they were finished (but still rough, you understand) would you be at all interested in reading them and offering some critical feedback? The commenting of course is the key. I want brutal honesty. If a bit of dialogue sucks, tell me but also tell me why it sucks.

Let me know what you think in comments below.

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