Method

People who are interested in knowing a bit about the thinking that goes into planning a novel might want to read the post I wrote during the summer here, as well as the comments. This post is a kind of reply or sequel to that post.

Thinking more about NaNoWriMo. The very reasonable comment from Paul that slapping down a load of words is more stunt than craft. Me being determined to be more thoughtful. To make decisions, to be less trial and error about it all. To make lists and chapter plans. And then finding I am paralysed and might need the stunt of an arbitrary word count to get the engine turning over.

I do have a plan. And I am anticipating the problems. Here they are:

Writing more autobiographically than I have done before – none of the characters are me or anyone I know, but two or three of the scenes come from my life, and I’m writing about a topic very close to my own upbringing. There are worries associated with this. And it triggers interesting thoughts. How even-handed do I have to be? What are my motivations? People who want to find things out about any topic won’t turn to a novel for it, so factual accuracy is less of a priority than authenticity. Authentic is really, really difficult. Especially as most of the time I’m unsure of my own opinions about anything. Hence, I think, the narrative vehicle of lots of narrators.

Five first person narrators. Possibly six. Each of them very different. Wanting to capture their voices. Wondering if I am up to the job. Wondering if this kind of ventriloquism is a cheap trick (Martin Amis mentioned something like this in his Paris Review Interview and reading it stung me a little). It feels (impersonation, inventing narrators, first persons) like it’s something worthwhile to do for me because it involves me forcing myself to grow empathy and understanding for points of view I don’t agree with. Very difficult.

That is where I am up to so far. I am looking forward to giving myself the room to bang out a short first draft and see what it looks like at the end of November. Posting might be erratic during the next four weeks. 

4 responses to “Method”

  1. Megan says:

    Maybe fast will help with that? You won’t have time to worry about gathering the courage.
    Very, very good luck to you Jenn

  2. Carys Bray says:

    I’m looking forward to hearing how you get on with NaNoWriMo and (for what it’s worth) your use of five first person narrators sounds ambitious, as opposed to a cheap trick. Good luck!

  3. Jane Eagland says:

    I don’t think using multiple first person narrators is a cheap trick either – I think it’s a challenge that takes skill to pull off.

    David Mitchell does it brilliantly in Cloud Atlas.

    Good luck to you with the first draft – go for it!

  4. thanks, Ladies.

    I am off now to type like the wind while McTiny naps.

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