Saturday, October 13, 2007

Which Way to Go ....

The darker places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.

-- Dante

Started on the third novel this morning. My first novel lies in a drawer, unwritten except for the outline, a list of characters, and a clumsily constructed first chapter. The second novel remains in preliminary draft only, a psychological mind-twister with a hidden agenda. All of them have a "story", primary and peripheral characters; none as yet has a title. A funny thing--some of my characters are more persistent than others, in wanting to get their story out. Last month it was Will, the protagonist from the fist novel. I think he felt I was going to abandon the project entirely and so he suggested a new tack, one I'm not entirely comfortable with because it's a controversial subject. This week the persistent voice is from Allie, the young girl from the third novel-in-progress. She feeds me info at night just before I'm about to drop off to sleep, and in the wee hours of the morning, just as I'm waking up. "Remember to write this down," an inaudible voice reminds me. "Here's a little vignette you must include," nudges another voice. Whether these sudden thoughts originate from the fictional characters I have created or are just my subconscious prodding me to stop procrastinating and get to work, I have no idea. But apparently it's working. I'm setting up a writing schedule, to which I intend to adhere no matter what.

In all three stories I have a beginning and an end. It's the middle I'm having trouble with, going from one vignette to another (it's called plot, silly!). This third one's going to require some research. It takes place in Florida, a place I've never had the slightest desire to visit and about which I know very little--except that it's hot, a lot of old people go there to retire, and annoying little insects are prone to populate the premises. I need to talk to someone who actually lives there to get specifics.

I just read two "thrillers", front to back, in a matter of days. I seemed not to be able to put them down. They were full of action scenes and tantalizing intrigues that kept me glued to the page, as it were. And yet I'm not keeping them as permanent residents on my bookshelves. They satisfied momentarily, but are not Keepers. These are not the type of books I want to write. They're a dime a dozen. Interesting, entertaining, the visual equivalent of watching a movie through words. I feel compelled to write a different kind of fiction ... something that would make someone want to keep the book. For that, the book has to resonate in a deeper fashion. I'm torn between wanting to have a character-driven book expressing universal dilemmas ... or an Orwellian allegory describing current disturbing political events. Something tells me this will entail a whole other project.... Novel No. 4?!! Is it possible to work on writing four books at once?! Maybe I should shorten them and place them, along with my other short stories, into a collection--which, I'm told, is infinitely harder to get published. What do you think? Any fellow writers out there ... I'm open to suggestions!

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