The Start of… Something

April 12, 2011 at 1:14 am (Books, Fiction) (, , , , )

I recently started a new story and for the first time EVER, I feel like it could lead to being a novel.  I usually write short stories and occasionally longer short stories, but for some reason, the scope and possibilities I have opened up before me with this one seem, well, bigger.

I once wrote a story about a guy who made a set of tap shoes for a cockroach.  I wrote a story about a guy stuck working in Wisconsin who wishes he could dream about the girl he left behind in North Carolina, but keeps having silly dreams instead.  I wrote a story about a guy who is making a cross country trip and finds himself talking to a hand puppet in a motel in Wyoming.  None of these needed to be longer.  They told the story I wanted them to, quickly and easily.  The short story format was perfect for them.

Then there was “Into the Black” and “The Carnival.”  The former could easily be the beginning of a book.  The latter could very well be fleshed out with a few more characters added and end up being a book of its own (both of which are ideas I have been toying with).

But this new piece that I started…well, it is already apparent to me that it belongs in a big world.  A wide open place where many things happen.  A place where the protagonist is on a quest.  This is all VERY obvious to me.  The problem?  I don’t know what that quest is!  I don’t know the “what if.”  Without sounding flippant, good novels can be thought of (though not summarized) in concise “what if” questions.  “What if Childe Roland was a gunslinger making his way to The Tower?”* “What if a magical ring needs to be destroyed in enemy territory?”**  “What if a retired man’s mind is beginning to slip and he wants to keep it a secret?”*** 

My newest piece starts right after a battle, the final battle of a war, and the prince commanding the losing side is the only person still alive from his troops, but no one knows he has lived through it.  Sounds OK, right?  He then meets a guy who is scavenging the bodies of the fallen soldiers and he lies about who he is, knowing that his enemies have won and are now in control of his former city.  Again, sounds all right.  But that’s where I’ve been stopped.  For three days now.  Because I have no “what if” for this guy.  What’s his quest?  To regain control of his city?  Sure! …except I know so little about politics and intrigue that I don’t know if I could do that.  If it was an Item Quest, well, somehow a tangible goal seems much “easier,” but I haven’t figured out what he would be questing after in the situation that was created.  I am a firm believer in what Stephen King talks about in his book “On Writing,” mainly: create the situation, create the characters and don’t worry about plot, it will come as the characters try to resolve their situation.  But guess what?  I ain’t Stephen King.  (Actually, you probably didn’t even have to guess that.)  I feel like I should have SOME sort of idea as to where they are headed… even if they never get there.  Right now I’ve got, “What if the former prince of a nation……….umm….”

Anyway, bear with me.  I feel like this story and my quest to tackle it are going to be with me for a little while.

*= The Dark Tower series
**= The Lord of the Rings
***= A Spot of Bother

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2 Comments

  1. jason finger said,

    Hi, i just wanted to tell you that i really enjoyed your short story “the carnival”. Iam currently on my nook so as soon as i get to a computer i will look at your other works. Would really like to see a continuation of the carnival. Thank you for writting this story.

    Jason

    • lemonbar77 said,

      Thanks for your words of support. The Carnival was a sort of prequel to Into the Black, which unfortunately feels unfinished. It needs a second part badly, but I keep starting it and can’t make any progress. I may end up going back to The Carnival, adding a but more and then continuing their story.

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