Saturday, April 23, 2011

That's What I'm Tolkien About

In a previous post, I blogged about someone's (not mine) theory that there are only 3 stories in the world: Road Trip, Stranger In Town, Person Meets Person. Not sure I buy that, but it does seem to apply to 90% of the stories I know.

For today, let us speak of Road Trip. What's the best road trip novel ever written? I vote for THE HOBBIT. The protagonist goes on a very long and wearisome trek (yep, that road DID go ever on and on!), but the author kept it exciting and moving along the whole way. Well, at the risk of being sacrilegious, maybe almost the whole way. But that's the challenge of writing a road trip.

Even a real life road trip, say a solo drive from Texas to California in a '97 Chevy with a broken tape deck, can be mind-numbingly boring. So many cacti... oh my gosh, is that a Stuckey's???!!!

I've decided to start working on my 4th novel, a post-apocalyptic YA road trip. I need to be careful to not get bogged down in the details. I must remind myself that I don't need to document every single step of the journey. That is a trap that I fall into as a writer so I need to watch myself in that regard. On the flip side - as a reader, I hate it when authors merrily skip over big chunks of narrative/plot/time and don't provide ENOUGH details. Oh, well, I suppose it's all about balance. Or maybe it's about some of us like details and the rest of you probably haven't read this far anyhow! (ha)

But even though my Oh So Logical Brain is thinking of this story in terms of Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc., I can be creative with the structure of the novel. Right, Pinky? Just like I'm creative with the characters, the plot, the dialogue. I hate to say it, but my brain has ideas for at least 4 other novels kicking around inside it. (it's very loud inside there) One of those has an untraditional structure, so it may have inspired me for the PAYA. (post-apocalyptic young adult (YA) novel) I've had a title for this book for almost 2 years, but just recently I've been having a major argument with myself about that title and am now not so sure. (yes, you are! no, I'm not!) So for now, I guess PAYA is as good a name as any.

If writing a novel is like going for a swim, then I've got my suit on and sunscreen applied, I've got a "good" chaise lounge staked out with my towel and I'm dipping a toe in one end of a very, very long pool. The idea for PAYA came to me around July 2009, so I've been scribbling notes here and there for awhile. I know the beginning, middle and end of this story. I know the major plot points and twists. I may or may not know the title. And, of course, I already have thoughts on the cover art!

I just need to begin. And hey, I might even use this blog to keep track of my progress. (Wednesday Word Count, anyone?) Unlike Bilbo, I'll be alone on this epic journey, but at least there won't be any kram!

And so #4 begins...

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