Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Sometimes it ain’t so easy, pounding out a new novel. As I get older, I can recall earlier times when I didn’t think so much about it; I just pounded. And when you just pound away, pretty soon you discover that you’re sitting on a couple hundred manuscript pages — something you can really work with — and getting to the end isn’t so intimidating.
By now, though, I’ve been through the process so many times (you have no idea!) that facing the void again is almost too much. As one writer or another was quoted a while back (and I paraphrase): “If I have to think up one more batch of characters and put them in ridiculous scenes with pointless dialogue, I’m going to throw up.” And believe me, I get it. I know exactly where she’s coming from.
It’s not just the length of the novel that’s getting to be frustrating, though, it’s the conventions of the novel too. The obsession with scene. The whole “show don’t tell” thing. The faux realism. The rules. And yes, I know, all forms of art have rules, but for some reason the ones governing the novel these days seem especially restrictive. So much so, as a matter of fact, that a lot of literary novels now are actually mysteries or thrillers, using all the conventions of those genres, but gussied up with fancy language and technique. You know. So they might possibly sell a few copies.
I’m thinking of trying something new one of these days. A series. Not a one-character series, or a mythical place series, but a bunch of shorter books — say fifty pages a piece — with a single thematic foundation. Can’t say what the theme is yet, since I’m just starting to develop the idea, but it would permit a wide variety of character types, times, and settings. That’s right: all the loose crap in my “ideas file” that might not otherwise get used.
We’ll see what happens with it.
Meanwhile, anyone out there working on something different? Tell!