A few weeks ago I took to the Hivemind (read: Facebook) to ask peoples’ advice on how I should proceed on writing the new novel (which I now have under the working title “River, Diverted” but I dunno…”Diverted” is a weird word and the comma is possibly pretentious)(River is my main character, BTW). Everyone and their dogs agreed, write all of the words and sort it out later. I grudgingly agree – “grudgingly” because it means a rough draft could be years in the making.
Structure is a difficult thing. Unless you’re starting at A and going to B, with little backstory, it’s easy to get bogged down. My story takes place in the present but the past is a huge element of the plot, to the point where it is almost a separate timeline – but this was a surefire way to end up with a 1,000 page (read: unpublishable) novel.
Enter this here radio show/podcast. I read about a book a week in order to stay on top of interviews, and recently I read This Side of Sad (Goose Lane) by Karen Smythe. It’s a book with no present tense to speak of, and no traditional plot to speak of…and it works incredibly well. The narrator remembers her past in short sections, paragraphs a half-page long or less, presented in an order that seems random but, of course, was probably painstakingly assembled (I’ll find out when I interview her). Her structure may have cracked this story open for me, giving me a way to illuminate important moments without dedicating entire chapters to them.
The takeaway is, writers – keep reading!
Two guests today. First up, Chris Pannell, a Hamilton writer who is part of the LitLive committee. We discuss LitLive, a long-standing reading series in Hamilton (and I’ll be making my LitLive debut this coming Sunday, Oct 1, so if you’re around, come on by! 7:30 pm at the Staircase Theatre.