Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?

So how’s that novel coming?

with 4 comments

Glad you asked. The novel may have entered a prolonged period of hibernation, but it’s never been far from mind. I’ll still go in and write down ideas and even a few lines of prose every now and then. The challenge has been the changing nature of the plot, and I think its time to start discussing some of the particulars…

Back in high school, I came up with the idea of a group of college students who wrote for an underground publication that had eclipsed the popularity of their school’s newspaper. It would be an ensemble, coming-of-age yarn following the lives of four students and their mentor. The main character—a bright young man much akin to myself—would write a provocative piece for their little rag that would spark a certain amount of controversy, and thus drive the plot. I had some ideas about where to take the characters involving aspects of comedy, tragedy, and of course, an epic romance.

Looking at that little synopsis now, I can’t decide if I want to laugh or cry at its trifled banality. But I was seventeen when I came up with it, so give me a break. I think most aspiring authors start by “creating” stories very similar to the ones they’ve grown to love (something Stephen King wisely took to heart before sitting down to write The Gunslinger after he read The Lord of the Rings). My cookie-cutter plot felt great to me back in the day, though. I had grand ideas about love and the writer’s life at seventeen, most of which were later crushed to oblivion or reshaped by various other factors by the time I graduated college.

Therefore, the story changed over time as well. Having finally come of age myself, I can tell this story honestly. And without the cheap Hollywood B-movie design. So, the new synopsis, as rough as it is, has become the story of Connor McCall. Last year, I plugged away with fair consistency, and generated about 20,000 words of text. The story continued to change as the naïve ideas of the former synopsis gave way to more interesting ideas I felt more compelled to explore. Unfortunately, after so many words, I hit a wall.

Since shelving the project, I’ve earned a few paying freelance assignments, and have concentrated more on some shorter projects. The novel beckoned, however, gnawing away at me, and looking for another opportunity to come back to life. Then, a friend offered me a little competition: complete one novel before he loses fifty pounds.

Over the weekend I began thinking about the changing nature of the story I wanted to tell. The old idea always seemed like something that could merit 70 to 80,000 words. But the way the narrative began to take shape, it may fall somewhere between 50 or 60,000. With a third of this already written, that puts me 40,000 away from completion, give or take. Break that down over, say, two months, and that’s a mere 666 words a day.

And that’s a very attainable goal.

So I said yes. And despite that rather eerie daily goal, I’m going make a go at it. So, CalvinDude, you’re on.


Written by taj

December 11, 2006 at 7:12 pm

Posted in Writing

4 Responses

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  1. My goal, on the other hand, would be more attainable if they stopped bringing peanut brittle in….


    December 12, 2006 at 11:40 am

  2. I’ve had a few novels in various stages of completion since I was the same age. Only one of them still has a hold on my imagination, though I haven’t written a single word of it. It’s entirely in my head. All I’ve got is a very vague idea of a plot scrap, and a picture of the main character in my head. He’s sort of a version of myself (aren’t they all?) were I to give my darker nature freer rein and in possession of magical powers.

    Lord Vertigo

    December 13, 2006 at 12:21 pm

  3. Try writing 667 words a day and end up getting done early. I mean, why not just be on the safe side? But then, when did safe ever work for you? Go for it!


    December 14, 2006 at 6:56 am

  4. […] CalvinDude, you’re now in the position to win our little wager.  That is unless I am suddenly inspired to an idea so grand…well, we’ll […]

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