To make myself sleepy, or sleepier, let’s talk of writing books.
I’m about a hundred short of 40,000 words of prewriting. I have twenty-eight named characters and counting. It’s all first-come first-served writing, whatever thought comes first gets put down as fast as I can type. If this is a bad way to work I don’t want to hear it.
I am miles away from breaking hearts. I have some interesting scenes, potentially, but nothing that does what I want it to do, which is to break the very heart, and I’m barely scratching the surface of creating the potential for this type of story. I need to know more about what they care about, what they care about all feels locked up in the past, and by the time I catch them up to what feels like the present, everything is buried under layers of psychological shifting and accommodation, ways to deal, they’re all dealing and surviving and acting like calm, rational individuals. It might be a story about writer’s block, and the opposite of that, as it shows up in other various professions, because I don’t want to be that writer that only writes about writers, but I’m trying to take what I know about writers and apply it to the human race, as it were.
I’ve been working under the assumption that an author cannot know too much about his characters. Maybe this is an assumption too far.
I’m including some wealthy people in this. I don’t know how to write about wealthy people. Because it’s a respect thing, I don’t know any wealthy people I respect for their wealth, some for other reasons but none for their wealth, I’ve never met anyone I believed to deserve the overbearing advantages they hold above the people they pass on the sidewalk, because I don’t understand the keeping of it, the money, the hoarding to oneself in precious reserve of a resource that could sate the basic desires of so many. I don’t know how to make them human.
I have to find the scenes. Then I’ll know more. Stuff worth knowing, too, not just the facts. I’m getting a pretty good handle on facts, and the facts are proving themselves as accurate as they are arbitrary, but I think I need them, I’m telling myself I need them to find the scenes. If this is true remains to be seen.
The other thing: I’m going a little DFW on this. Not so far as to highlight in footnotes which words are the narrator’s and which (rare) ones the characters “actually said” which you were led to believe all along. But DFW’s (narrator’s) voice supersedes that of 99% of his characters so when he’s rolling right along in a superior voice he’s not about to stop its flow for the sake of sounding more like the character he’s talking about. I’m going to create that distinction, without footnotes somehow, that there is an entity between the story’s action and the recreation in the reader’s mind, because the words don’t disappear from the page, there is a telling of the story and there is a mind involved in the telling and that mind will make adjustments and edits as it sees fit and will not hide under the guise of realism. I’m going to use a particular voice that’s not the character’s, when it suits me, and if I need a first person section it will be true to the character’s intellect and vocabulary and spelling and mannerisms as best I can render it, in this case it will not be cleaned up for easy reading or conventionality, it will be raw and wide open like a split brain otherwise why do a first person when my narrator’s voice would surpass the character’s in both accuracy and interest.
I’m reading Swamplandia! now and she’s got a first-person narrator but when her brother skips the island for the mainland and she (the author) wants that character’s story told she just flips the script to third person with no acknowledgement of doing so, which is fine, but it’s in the same voice as far as I can tell and it’s bothering me. It’s a witty and engaging voice but it’s not a narrator’s voice it’s a character’s and it’s telling a bigger story than it has earned the right to know, and it’s bothering me.
And bothered, I go to bed.