Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Novel Writing Exercise Day Two - realised that I don't actually like novels


Stef's first novel - not dead as such but not particularly well ...
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As expected my adventure in novel writing has got bogged down on Day Two. I've pasted up 1,000 words of Chapter 3 but I'm not linking to it yet because it's a) not finished and b) rubbish.

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I guessed this would happen. Everyone who has ever pontificated about the creative writing process has made the point that practice is essential. The creative brain is supposedly like a muscle that needs exercising. I'm a little sceptical. Personally I have only ever heavily exercised one muscle in my entire body, for several years through my mid to late teens, and even after repeated efforts it never got bigger or stronger.


My biggest problem is that, with notable exceptions, I hate novels. Ninety five percent of published novels are narcissistic, solipsistic rubbish written by people who have only ever imagined life. Even the handful of gifted novelists who have lived life and have something important to say, end up doing it in a roundabout, needlessly long-winded way. Why drag someone through a depressing account of, say, the reminiscences of a dying unfulfilled and fictional character, when you could make the case for living a decent and purposeful life based on real people, real experiences and real observations?
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I'm talking about novels here rather than stories. I appreciate few people make the distinction these days but there is a world of difference between Catch 22 and Hollywood Wives. The first is a novel that attempts to convey an opinion about the human condition and, as such, the story is entirely secondary. The second is a story; a yarn good for its intended purpose of passing a few hours for the reader on holiday and making the author lots of money. Lots of money is fine but it is a competitive market and I have no passion for that kind of work. It's formulaic and dull. The first category of fiction is almost impossible to execute well.
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There have been some bright spots so far, notably:
  • Someone called A. Nonymous read my blog and suggested that I stopped using 'Stef and Tracy' as character names; as that might cause some confusion at home if I stick with the novel. As well as being a fair comment this is also a better premise for my novel than the one I started with. I've tucked that idea away for possible use in Chapter 5 or 6 when I can have one of my characters stepping out of the shower and re-entering the real world
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  • In a similar vein Tracy suggested that I change the character names from Stef and Tracy to Geoff and Stacy. This is also a good idea and will be implemented.
I've just done a word count on this blog entry and up to the word biscuit, which I just inserted in this sentence as a point of reference, I have managed to write 463 words in under 15 minutes. If only writing creative fiction that didn't blow chunks was so easy.

PS I used the word solipsistic in the blog as an homage to pretentious novelists. If you don't know what it is, revel in the pretentious novel experience and either skip it or feel obliged to look it up in a dictionary at some point, then slip it into conversion at the first opportunity and thus demonstrate your astonishing erudition.

564 words now

3 comments:

Geek's Girl said...

Stef / Geoff - Tracy / Stacy - still think this is a little close to home, but hey, it's your book.

And instead of writing a novel, why not write your 'autobiography' but turn it into fiction by chainging names and making judicious (I admit it, I can't spell) use of artistic licence. That's where your blog will come in handy - great reference material and you could call it "A Year in the Life of Stef / Geoff / Barbara / (Whatever)"

It's just a thought. Use it, don't use it, whatever. Do keep writing though.

Stef said...

Thanks for your thoughts

Yes, a couple of friends have suggested have suggested similar and I think that makes sense.

Mmmmm, my life but with different names plus added bonus scenes of ninja warriors, mysterious caverns, exotic locations and huge, set-peice scenes readily suited for sale to the movie industry

Will have a think now.

Stef said...

I can spell peice correctly, honestly