Are novels like buses?
We all know the old complaint about buses – you wait hours and then … but I didn’t realise the same principle applied to ideas for novels!
I’ve been feeling for a while now that I want to write another novel. Unravelling is out there in the world and The Piano Player’s Son will be launched next year, so what am I waiting for?
Two things – one, a good idea with interesting characters that I really want to spend the next year or so living with, and two (more difficult in a way) the anxiety about embarking again on the mammoth, difficult and challenging task of writing a novel. I must confess to delaying, dragging my feet, procrastination because I know that once I’ve started, the novel will become all-consuming and I will have to devote myself to it.
Despite – in some ways – my reluctance, an idea has presented itself and I’ve been playing around with it for a month or so. I posted on here and facebook about a possible title Two Minutes from Eros and got a positive response. I was getting excited about my idea. So, what’s the problem? I can hear you saying. Stop talking. Get going.
The problem is that another possibility has arrived! Yes, the two buses’ syndrome. I’ve just had a short story critiqued. It’s a story I like, but I knew there was something wrong with it, so I sent it off to be critiqued. And the response? The critiquer (sorry about horrible term) said lots of nice things about it – great characterisation, dialogue fine, great use of of imagery and metaphor, use of language is wonderful … but, overall, it’s not working. And she believes the reason is that it really wants to be a novel ‘and a rather good one at that’.
So now what I shall I do? Two ideas and I like them both!
I’m going to ask you to help me! These are two possible openings. Which one do you prefer?
Lily sat down on the bench and felt the slats hard against her thighs. Taking her lunch box from her bag, she placed it on the seat beside her. The wind bit into her shoulders and the branches of the huge willow sweeping down to the lake lifted and danced. She felt cold air wrap itself round her cheeks. This was her favourite time of year. Its rituals – scuffing through leaves, buttery crumpets, the glitter of sparklers – a last link with her mother.
Marsha didn’t belong. She would be twenty-four in May and for as long as she could remember, she’d felt wrong – the wrong person, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Her skin was too dark, her hair wouldn’t lie flat, and her soft voice could never be heard above her family’s clamour.
That’s the choice. Which has more appeal for you – A or B?!
Categorised in: Writing