Monday, November 29, 2004

Novel Idea

I've finished about half of Chris Baty's No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. I think I'll do it. Even better: December has 31 days.

Baty suggests writing a Magna Carta of sorts to keep you focused on the things that interest you as a reader while you write. My list includes novels that are
  • realistic
  • heady
  • poetic
  • in motion (on a journey)
  • mythic

or contain

  • forbidden desire
  • lies
  • adult characters with maturity
  • strangers
  • undertow
  • puzzles & Rosetta stones
  • strange settings
  • barren landscapes
  • hallucinations & visions
  • tension
  • complex characters

Some of my favorite novels are listed here to give you a sense of what I enjoy as well as what I tend to write about when I write fiction and how:

  • Giovanni's Room, James Baldwin
  • The Stranger, Albert Camus
  • Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
  • Frisk, Dennis Cooper
  • Less Than Zero, Bret Easton Ellis
  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
  • Querelle of Brest, Jean Genet
  • The Immoralist, André Gide
  • Damage, Josephine Hart
  • The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
  • The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Oscar Hijuelos
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
  • The Moon and Sixpence, W. Somerset Maugham
  • Confessions of a Mask, Yukio Mishima
  • Beloved, Toni Morrison
  • 1984, George Orwell
  • Fathers and Sons, Ivan Turgenev

I've written several short stories and poems since I was ten years old, but I've always wanted to write novels. I'm several thousand words into a handful of novels I've begun but haven't yet completed. Baty's "system" of pure exposition under deadline appeals to me; I've spent the majority of college and graduate school doing just that, delivering some of my best prose hot from the printer to under-appreciative professors. So, I'll try this method with something I'm not very emotionally attached to and see what comes of it. One month. 50,000 words. Wish me luck.

1 comment:

  1. I was in a bookstore a couple of weeks (months?) ago and I thought of you. Truth be told, I think about you often. This time, however, Chris Baty's _No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days_ caught my eye and it reminded me that I read your blog entry re the same.

    So, now I am curious. How is this project coming along? Have you completed your novel in 30 days? When do we get to read it?