Friday, August 12, 2005
You Gotta Try New Things . . .
They assure me no beagles were harmed in the shooting of that photo . . .
I try a new technique in every book--after you've written so many novels, you have to try new things or you tend to repeat yourself.
For instance, in UNCHARTED, I used a far-out metaphor and a setting I'd never seen in Christian fiction. Not in the last 100 years, anyway.
In THE NOVELIST, I wrote two novels--it's the story of God working on me as I worked on a novelist who worked on her book. Like a three-dimensional chess board; one move affected all three layers.
In UNSPOKEN, I used a talking gorilla as a main character. Enough said. (VBG)
In MAGDALENE, I thought I would try to write most of the novel in skaz: Russian in origin, skaz differs from other first-person narratives in that it attempts to "give the illusion of spontaneous speech" (Prince 88). Although a carefully prepared and highly polished text, a successful skaz leaves the reader with the impression of listening to an unrehearsed, rambling monologue such as one might hear from an excited or talkative stranger on a train or in a bar.
Examples are : Huck Finn, Catcher in the Rye, Stephen King's Dolores Claiborne.
HOWEVER--after working at it for a couple of hours, I decided to ditch the skaz. I think it'd work great if I were writing a teenager or an insane woman, but it tended to jar me out of the present story. Also, I think a second draft is too late to try to work it in. Skaz seems to be something you need to have in mind from page one.
So--sometimes, I guess, knowing what won't work is as important as knowing what will. One of my friends mentioned Koontz' LIFE EXPECTANCY (which I loved), and while I don't think that's skaz, it does contain direct address--the character speaks to the reader. That sounds like a technique that will work in MAGDALENE, except that Mary won't be speaking to the reader, but to her judge.
Ordered a new book today from Amazon--called THE TRICK OF IT, by Michael Frayn. I read an excerpt this morning and it was hilarious (aubergine underpants?!) . About a paranoid expert in literary criticism who has devoted his life to the study of this one female novelist. Anyway, they meet, fall in love, and marry, but he's torn between his love for her talent and his jealousy of it. He tries to master "the trick of it" (novel writing), but it's beyond him.
I love this paragraph, which the narrator writes to his friend. He's concerned that the novelist is inserting the story of their love affair into her WIP:
"What? Are my underpants aubergine? Of course they're not aubergine! Don't you know anything about my taste at all? But she may be saying they're aubergine! That's what they do, these people. They embroider, they improve on the truth--they tell lies."
LOL! Anyway, this epistolary novel sounds like a hoot and I can't wait to read it.