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Does this make sense?

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Ferrit Leggings

Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 2658
Does this make sense?  Reply with quote  

The book I am working on now is three years in the making and has been written twice now. I wanted to tell a father and daughter story but in the first draft I found some, well many, weak points. The problem was what was driving the reader to read the book.

What I tried to do in the first version was tell a general story with plot twists and with thriller aspects to it but what I found was that thrillers are not what I can do. For all of my grandstanding on the board I am a pretty boring person with interests in education, politics, art, music and general life. The general life stuff is more philosophical and psychological.

One of my favourite books when I was younger, along with the Vonnegut and Thompson books, was Civilization and its Discontents by Notes from the Underground. It reminded me of ThFreud. As a teenager I loved the absolute disdain and angst of Dostoevskyísompson. You might say that I was a misunderstood youth and you would be right. Being intelligent and pretending to be dumb is hard at times. I donít like to boast but I used to steal my brotherís college texts and read them when I was in school in the back of classes. I would also steal the books that were intended for the smart kids and read them as well. It was strange but I liked reading and I liked knowing things and why people did things. Not just the simple psychological aspects but everything.

My second draft, which I thought was finished, I added more things took some away, like the plot twists and thriller bits but it still lacked something. I thought and I still do think it lacked a personal aspect to it. Writing is supposed to be personal. I had a great title, I think so, and it mainly lacked an ending. I sent it off to be looked at Random house UK anyway and they were positive but I knew it missed the point and a point to it. In the end it was flat. There was nothing for the reader to be upset by or cheered on by. It was just a story. I probably could have sent it off and gotten it published but it wasnít what I wanted it to be.

So now I am on the third go at it. It is easier going with some things because after writing it so many times, three is not much but when you spend so much time with these characters you get to know them like family. I also wanted to have a point to the story. I didnít want the reader to feel flattened at the end.

I know my style is very different than what is posted here but if it wasnít for Chris Moore and other writers like him, DNA, Vonnegut, Thompson, I would be nothing more than a pillar of facts and theories. And Yes I would rank Chris up with DNA and the other I mentioned. I can write depressing and fact filled but it is writers like him and the others that give me courage to write something silly or funny.

My plot usually comes from a lot of smoking and thinking. I needed the first go through to tell me what was wrong and what didnít work. The second one was better but the third is like having sex with a partner that knows all your moves and you theirs. What I write doesnít necessarily need a lot of outlines but it does need drafts. This may sound weird but I dream a lot of what I write or take things from my own life and apply it to the story.

Most of my jokes in the book I tell people at work and if they think it is funny then I give it a go. Some work and some donít but I have learned more about my characters and myself by going through the drafts. Part of me wanted to be just done with it and send it off but I knew that it wouldnít be something that I would want out there. I just wish it would go faster. I need more time to write without family interruptions, distractions, and working.

This last time it took out the plot twists but in the second go I wrote in small details that were revealed as the reader went throughout the story. I thought that this was confusing in a story about life so I am still revealing things but I am doing it in chunks that make sense to the story and not giving snippets as the reader goes along. This is intentional but I donít need to write it down. I plot out things chapter by chapter but I have a general outline in my head of how I want things to go. I donít write it down or plot everything out because I donít like the idea of telling a story twice. My outline is or was in the different versions of the same story and in my head.

My biggest trouble is trying not to underestimate the reader or over estimate the reader in their knowledge. It is tricky but I hope it works. The story I am writing is more about me but with me separated into different characters, more so than in the last two versions. In the first one I wasnít, hardly, there are all, the second I was the main character and in the last one I am nearly all of the characters but I divided up my personality. I am trying to write it so that it is interesting to a general reader and the issues that it is dealing with are culture, giftedness, and social life. It is like a schizophrenic look at American life through the eyes of a British father of a gifted child with social problems.

Does this make sense?

I feel the same way about disco as I do about herpes. -HST

Post Thu Apr 07, 2005 5:07 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Site Admin

Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 3833
Location: People Republic of Northern California
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The anxiety and second-guessing doesn't go away with time. I still am convinced at any point I'm working on a book that it's not working.

That said, I would look outside of me and DNA and Vonnegut for inspiration and perhaps look at Nick Hornby, who sets his stories in reality and seems to be writing something more closely related to what you are doing.

Ultimately, the characters will be what make your story succeed or fail. If the reader cares about what they want, and whether they get it, then the story will work. That's where you get your ending. Satisfaction or disappointment.

Just a note, though. While the "no one understands me because I'm too smart" lament is very effective for carrying on as an alienated adolescent, it doesn't fly as a novelist. You absolutely do not need to dumb down anything you write. You do, however, need to communicate, and it is a mark of your true intelligence to be able to do that effectively.

Last edited by chris on Thu Apr 07, 2005 6:33 pm; edited 1 time in total

Post Thu Apr 07, 2005 5:29 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
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