Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Despite the Protagonist Being a Detective

For about a month now--maybe longer--I've been writing a new novel. This one has the working title The Last Guest and is an exploration of long-term coupling in the form of a detective story. Yeah, that's right. So far I'm about 7,000 words into the book. According to the one-page outline I whacked out a few weeks ago, I'm still in Chapter One. Huh. Actually, I've been considering the idea of not having any chapter breaks at all, just moving on from scene to scene for the length of the narrative. Readers might hate that, but it worked for Beckett, right?

I also note that so far, 7,000+ words into the novel, there is no "story question" yet. There's no "will X do Y and stop Z?" or whatever. I think the narrative bubbles along nicely anyway, and though I will eventually have to produce a dead body (it is a murder mystery after all), I don't necessarily feel a lot of pressure to do that right away. Again, readers might hate that, but I'm not writing this for the mystery-reading crowd. This is a book in the form of a detective story, but it's not really a detective story. Despite the protagonist being a detective and all.

There is the urge to make a lot of Jasper Ffordian puns, like having the pistol in the first act be manufactured by the Chekhov Arms Company and to have the same pistol studiously not fired by the third act and such other larky things, but I am manfully resisting. For now, anyway.

15 comments:

  1. Which story had the lady with the red scarf and the plague? Will there be more of that one?

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  2. That story was something I was doing as a sort of experiment here on the blog. I might come back to it at some point. After all, I started getting all sorts of ideas for how to develop it. But I was already writing the detective story and the plague story was distracting me too much so onto the back back back burner it goes!

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  3. Well Mr. Bailey, I'm sorry to hear the plague story will be on the back burner. Eery, yet with enough of a mystery to pull us in, I shall miss it. (But I'm also glad it's gone. Very sad. Very very sad in light of what was happening in Japan. Even though one had absolutely nothing to do with the other.)

    And I see we are both on the way to another book. I have 6400 words on mine so far. Would you care to wager on which one of us will finish first? (First draft only.) I have three days of lawn cutting to do every week so that should even out our playing field.
    What say you?

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  4. Ooh, there's wagering?

    Scott, your detective story sounds cool. I'll be curious to see how the beginning plays out!

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  5. There might be bets.

    Anne, how long do you think your first draft will be? I'm looking at maybe 65K or so. If that's in your range, then It's On. First Draft Sprint!

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  6. Sometimes you just gotta write for yourself; for the sheer pleasure of it. Knowing you Scott, it will pan out into something intriguing.

    Until then, have fun with the new idea :)

    .......dhole

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  7. Okay, here's the skinny. I've got my first book in a pickle. It's just so horribly horrible, I have to rewrite the whole newbie mess. It should come out to around 90k. However, because I can re-use some scenes, I won't be rewriting the whole thing, so I'll see your 25k, and raise you three weeks. That is, I'll spot you an three extra weeks. August 1. How's that?

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  8. Donna: It keeps changing, the more I write. I found out yesterday that I have a ton of research to do. Which always pleases me. And I've found ways to really push the story into unpredictable directions. So yeah, I think this will please me and be interesting.

    Anne: So let me get this straight. We're setting a deadline of August 1st. I'll finish my draft of THE LAST GUEST and you'll finish your massive revision of THE LADY'S MASQUERADE? Whoever gets there first wins, but we both have to finish no later than 8/1/11? Yes? Yer on, lady.

    Also, congrats on the partial request for REMEMBERING YOU! Fingers crossed!

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  9. Yes, August first. And we'll discuss the wager at a later date. And thanks. So far I have 12 people with fingers crossed for me. Let's hope it works this time.

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  10. This sounds lovely, Scott. I like that you keep saying readers won't like it, because honestly, that means you're writing exactly what you want and that is the most important thing. I like books that are in the form of a straight genre, but don't follow the genre. I tend to do that. That also means it's probably a harder sell, though.

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  11. Michelle: Yeah, if people don't know how to give a book a simple label, they have a hard time talking about it. So I just call all of my books "novels" and let that be that. I'm hoping The Last Guest will be a good book; that's my only hope for it. I'm also 10K words into it now. Yay, me! Hopefully by the end of this week, I'll have killed off one of the characters. First I have to finish a bar scene, write a dream sequence and then digress about piano playing*. But then, oh then.

    *I suddenly realize that I have been influenced by Tristram Shandy. That's not a bad thing, though.

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  12. Yes, you are like me. You write stories, not genres. :)

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  13. However, you seem to always keep the strict literary feel, and that makes it easier to sell. :)

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  14. Well, I haven't actually sold a book yet!

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