Friday, May 6, 2011

structure and stuff

While I'm working on Rocky 4.0, if I get a moment to take a breath, sometimes I think about my next book. It's been in the works for a while, but I've been focusing on Rocky. Which is good, 'cause I think concentrating on one book and refining it helps me more as a writer than dozens of scattered projects do.

I've written about 100 pages in the Alzheimer's book, but I was so frustrated with structure. I wanted to include some memories from the past, and have those memories be a major part of the book, but most of the action is to take place in the present. Every time I tried to plan it out, it just wasn't working for me. I tried alternating chapters present/past, but that didn't work because it was obvious from the get-go what had happened in the past. I tried flashback form within the present, but that required lots of awkward transitioning and it wasn't a very balanced novel because so much of the past had to fit into the narrative.

Then I read Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King.

Ah, nothing like stealing ideas from another author. It was perfect! This novel is written in scenes instead of full chapters. Some scenes take place in the past, others in the present, and others from someone else's perspective. She starts each scene with a heading telling where and when the action takes place, so no awkward transitions.

So, for my next book, I'll be trying something new. That's right, I'll be abandoning the traditional chapter form completely. But it's the only way it makes sense--a nearly random structure for a book about scattered memories. It's always a little daunting to try something new on a huge scale like a novel. But I'll have A.S. King to guide me.

What fun is writing if you can't plagiarize while you're at it?

1 comment:

Melanie said...

I agree with the working on one project thing. It's rather daunting to still be working on the same book as I was last year...and the year before. But when I look at how that book has changed and how I have developed as an author, it's like a whole new book!