Thursday, 5 January 2017

I Quite Like It

Happy New Year! It turns out that I am still alive and writing. What a relief!  

Now, I’ve had a few inquiries about the new book. I’m happy to report that I am on the 3rd draft, which is the final major draft and also my technical draft (in which every word is scrutinized, and whatever needs to be peeled away is peeled, and whatever needs to be added is debated, and my inner grammarian shouts at me). This means that, if all goes well, I should have the book finished by the end of March. Considering that my last book came out in 2011, I am eager to get this one finished.  

It’s going very well, and this terrifies me. I’m not used to any book going well.  I’m used to a brawl. Sure, I've had a few panic attacks over this book, but nothing major. Is that a good sign? I hope so. 

Maybe the "going well" part has something to do with my new writing style. I stumbled upon something interesting back in 2014, but I didn’t know what to do with it, so I fumbled with it for a while until I finally saw a pattern. And now that pattern is my style. It’s probably not original—I assume I cobbled it together from a hundred different writers—but it gives me a little more room to play with imagery. And I quite like it.

It may also have something to do with Hemingway. I recently spent some time researching Hemingway's use of minimalism (a subject near and dear to my heart), and I ended up doing a deep dive into the topic of literary impressionism. Basically, literary impressionism is the idea that emotions can be implied by using the external environment to represent the internal. According to the theory (championed by Ezra Pound), this allows the reader to create whatever emotions he or she needs in order to understand the scene. This, in turn, creates a stronger emotional impact.

I really like this idea because it reminds me of “The 50% Rule” for description in a scene. This rule states that if you describe around 50% of a scene’s setting (or a character’s physical description), the reader will fill in the other 50% with his or her imagination, leading to a much more vivid scene in the reader’s mind. It’s one of my favorite magic tricks, and I’ve used it for years.

But literary impressionism takes this idea to the extreme, and Hemingway was such a disciple of it that his writing could sometimes (in my opinion) take on a stilted, wooden, and unemotional characteristic. Although I don't think I'd ever take it as far as he did, I think I can add it to the mix, just like Fitzgerald did in Gatsby, or Stephen Crane did in "The Red Badge of Courage."

In other happy news: That sci-fi novel that I had to abandon back in 2015? I have an idea on how to save it. All it needs is a trim of about 40k and a new ending. Easy peasy. I think I’ll try it, if for no other reason than to justify the four years I worked on it. And maybe there’s still a psychic “gut punch” associated with it that I need to heal.

What else? Oh! My PEI fantasy novel is still waiting for its 2nd draft. I hope to work on that in the spring. And then it’s either on to the next draft of a novella, or I decide to give my sci-fi novel its new ending.

So, anyway, I’m still alive and writing.