Yesterday I finished the transcription of the writing in my journal over to my computer, so my month away from the novel officially begins today.
Coincidentally I finished reading The Hemingway Hoax the night before, and now I can read and re-read some of the better books on writing that I have read.
First up is a book on pruning your writing and squeezing the best out of each scene within a manuscript. Now, I know that there are oodles of books out there on how to prune a manuscript. If you have a favorite, please let me know.
Right now I am reading The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great by Donald Maas. I’m 8% into the book. It starts well. The first chapter shows you how successful authors have made people empathize with the protagonist, because, really, why read a novel if you don’t care about the main character? And even if you can’t empathize with the protagonist, because, say, he is evil and sadistic, maybe you can hook people with disgust? With tension?
Also, I’m beginning to think of my novel in terms of a story arc though what struck me, after writing my entire novel and not looking at this structure, is how close I am.
Except for number 10, my novel is mapped exactly like this–unintentionally. I believe this proves that I have read just a few Hero Journeys.
Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey:
- The hero is confronted with a challenge,
- rejects it,
- but then is forced (or allowed) to accept it.
- He travels on the road of trials,
- gathering powers and allies, and
- confronts evil—only to be defeated.
- This leads to a dark night of the soul, after which
- the hero makes a leap of faith that allows him to
- confront evil again and be victorious.
- Finally, the student becomes the teacher.
How does this structure translate to a short story though? Is the structure the same?
“Reynolds! Reynolds!”–The Death of Edgar Allan Poe
I’ve written numerous stories, but I have never written a mystery or a short story, and by short I mean fewer than 3,000 words, so I decided to tackle both challenges in one fell swoop.
As I talked about in another post, there is a great mystery surrounding Edgar Allan Poe‘s death. He was found wandering the streets of Baltimore, incoherent, not knowing where he was, and in a severe state of distress. To top it off he was wearing another man’s clothes. The only name he mumbled was “Reynolds! Reynolds”, and to this day no one knows who that is.
I started writing the story the day after I finished writing The Tome of Worlds in my journal. A couple of paragraphs in I stopped myself because I didn’t have all of the information.
Thankfully there is a great website on his death written up by The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore.
If you have any interest in Poe I recommend that you check out their website.
I am still researching his death, taking notes, and once I finish I will start over again writing the short story. I have an idea already, but I want to see where the research leads me. I do fear that I will not be able to keep the story short.
Throughout I will have to keep a leash on the protagonist whose name right now is Mr. Snod.
Should be a fun exercise.
- “Reynolds! Reynolds!” – The End of Edgar Allan Poe (christopherleedeards.com)