Friday, February 12, 2010

[Book Update] Aaargh!

Proof that the writer isn't always in control

My current/first novel is loosely in the fantasy genre. Well, it's firmly in that genre, but it dips into a couple of others, also. One of the challenges of fantasy and sci-fi, as opposed to more mainstream fiction, is that you can't really ever assume that the reader knows what you're talking about. My book has some elements of the modern world in it, but they're not straightforward. So they need explanation and description. And the stuff that's not of the modern world certainly needs to be broken down for the reader if it's going to make sense. I've also got issues of language, historical information that helps establish the setting, and all manner of other crap - all of it over and above the usual fiction challenges of characterization, conflict, theme and so on.

All of which boils down to an awful lot of text spent describing this or introducing that or explaining something else. It's no doubt going to be worse in the beginning than it will be later on, but aaargh! I struggle with the feeling that my story's not getting anywhere, and I worry that my readers may feel the same. On the other hand, when I read books I like I'm often struck by how an author will take time to explain something where, were I writing the same scene, I would possibly have gotten right to the action and to hell with everything else. This gives me some hope that what I'm experiencing is natural and necessary and expected by the reader. I sure hope so - I've been trying to move my characters back out of town and into some action for about three chapters, now. I just completed chapter 11 wherein the protagonist and his friend walked from the center of town almost to the front gates. They didn't even get out of town!!

Granted, during that walk I introduced a ton of information about local clothing, farming, some history (especially of the aforementioned farming), food, local attitudes, local labor (ie. what the locals do with their time), introduced one historical character (who likely won't be seen again, but played an important role in explaining how things got to where they are now), introduced one current character (who will be fairly important later on), and provided a small amount of important information about an existing character. I added to what the reader knows about the main character's nature and added to an existing, semi-mysterious storyline (that will prove to be very important in a few more chapters). Lastly, I made it a very pleasant morning, which I think will make a nice counterpoint to how shitty the afternoon and the next couple of days are going to be.

But, once more, aaargh! It's just driving me crazy that there's so much vital information to tell that I have a hard time getting to the action. But if I skimp on this information, I don't think my story will make sense. It certainly will leave the world of the novel less rich and less logical.

So now I'm onto chapter 12. And right from the start, they're outside, dammit!!

No comments:

Post a Comment