The New Novel

I’m writing again! Really, honest-to-goodness writing!

I started a new novel a week ago Thursday. I’d had the frame of the novel in my head for about a year, but I never could get the actual story to take shape. It would wander from this thing to that thing to the other thing, but I never could get a sense of the conflict or the characters. Just this nebulous idea: a string quartet, and the protagonist plays the viola. I had a title. What I didn’t have was a plot, and although I’m not a plot-based writer, I still know it’s important to have one.

(Seven Archangels: Annihilation is the exception. It’s very much a plot-based novel.)

It started with an angel, but then I removed the angel. It had an apartment fire, and now there’s no more apartment fire. The protagonist had a nephew she was raising; she no longer has him. The entire story kept getting inverted like a dirty sock, and I never felt comfortable with any of my ideas.

What happened? I’m not sure, except that when the characters finally started talking to me, I suddenly got my finger on the novel’s heartbeat. And once I had its heart, I had the story.

I think the biggest difference is that one agent who rejected me (with an awesome, detailed rejection and suggestions for rewriting the whole thing) said of the rejected novel that it was overcrowded; she selected a couple of elements and said, “That’s plenty for a novel.”

Once she said that, I realized I really was trying to cram too much into the book. It didn’t need a nephew, an angel, an apartment fire, or any of those other things. It needed a soul, and I’d found it.

Since then, I’ve written 16,000 words. I was doing about 3500 words a day the first two days (this is my normal method: there’s a spurt at first and then it settles) and keeping up with about 1500 words a day since then, with the exception of two lousy days where I didn’t break a thousand.

The writing is humorous, but I’m not sure you can call it a comedy any longer. There isn’t the gonzo humor I wanted when I first planned it, but what remains is more touching and more human. I’m enjoying this, and after all that stalling, I didn’t think I would. I’m in love with three of the characters already.

So what’s the problem? The novel is eating the brain space I use for weblog entries. Poor me. Poor you: you may get updates on the novel when I get to the total self-absorption phase of the writing, when I know there’s nothing in the world so interesting as ♥My Book.♥

In the sidebar is a bar marking my progress. If you notice it hasn’t moved in a day or two, email me a boot to the head. I very much want this novel to succeed.


  1. Cricket

    I take it that agent will get first dibs on the rewrite?

  2. Kit

    Oh, good luck and happy writing to you…love the “dirty sock” image…my life and my laundry room summed up so succinctly…


  3. Pingback: The anatomy of a novel « Seven angels, four kids, one family