I have officially started working on yet another manuscript for my novel project. I have alluded to it in previous posts, but I finally have the idea solidified. I am breaking the story up into separate narratives, feeding on my strengths as a short story writer rather than trying to write a full-length novel manuscript.
I am not sure how many short stories are going to make up the collection yet. Right now, I have five in the planning stages, and a few pages have been written for one of the five. I don’t know why I didn’t think to do this before. I am better with short narratives and character studies rather than long, drawn-out storylines. And this novel could certainly be classified as a character study — for multiple characters.
Each chapter will be a short story, and each short story will be a chapter.
As an added bonus, this opens up new and exciting ways to tell a story that’s been in my head for almost seven years now. And, oddly enough, it first existed as a bunch of short stories with no relation to each other at all. After working on each for a while, I noticed patterns between the stories — places where one character from one story would easily fit a role I created for another. I set all of these stories in the same fictional city, mostly just to make things easier on myself. With each subsequent story, the city began more and more to take on a life of its own, becoming just as much a character as any one person in the story. Once that happened, I realized I was dealing with something much bigger than I had originally planned.
So, naturally, I shelved the project and worked on something else.
I revisited it about a year later, attempting to write out one narrative that would tie all the stories together. I made an outline for the entire novel, and I even wrote a couple of chapters. But it didn’t feel right. Again, it was shelved.
In January of 2009, I attempted another go at it. I got further that time than any other. I completed an outline for the first book in what would have been a two-book series, and the manuscript amassed over 16,000 words before I abandoned it. It was a sad day when I realized it wasn’t going anywhere — that I was losing interest in my own story.
With the 60-day manuscript project, I tried to write the story again, shifting a few things around in an attempt to make it new in my mind. It worked for a time, but I began to get buried under the same details that made me abandon previous versions of the story. I even dedicated a blog post to the project’s magnificent failure, which you can find here.
So I’m not exactly exploring new territory here. But I am exploring it with new tools at my disposal. Let’s see what I can dig up this time.