Archive for September 16th, 2011

How Many Novels Am I Writing?

Ah, Capsule.

Anyone in my writers group knows my long struggles with this novel.  They’ve seen me start it, stop it, restart it, walk away from it, return to it, circle it, and just generally futz with it for about three years now.  And still, it’s only a shell of the story that I had in my mind when I started writing it.  Bits and pieces of it have made their way into short stories, some intended to be related, some entirely unrelated.  It’s led me to make a series of blog posts about where technology is going, and read the Popol Vul.  It frustrates me, and excites me, and leaves me absolutely bewildered.

It has largely taken a back seat to my burgeoning career as a short story writer.  And that may have been for the best in the long run, though I’m now going to avoid rehashing my Unleaded post this week about the dangers of getting into a novelist-only mindset.

However writing that post has got me pondering just what the hell is up with Capsule.  And after picking some pieces apart I’m starting to wonder if the whole problem is that it’s two novels that I’m trying to write simultaneously.  If it has too much story, if I’m trying to do too many things.

On the one hand it’s a novel about someone trying to solve a crime in the 2070s committed by people living off the grid in a society that has forgotten that they’re on the grid.  On the other hand it’s a novel where a father is trying to save his daughter from an apocalypse cult that is disappointed that the world didn’t end in 2012 like they were promised.  Those are both stories that I’m enjoying, and that I think could be novels.  But more and more I don’t think they’re the same novel.

Just writing that sentence feels good.  I don’t think they’re the same novel.

Where it all started to fall apart for me is when I tried to make the one novel turn into the other novel, when I shifted from a murder investigation to a kidnapping plot.  Where just because both stories relied on a fanatic underground element that they had to be the same fanatic underground element.

My wife, ever wise, suggested that maybe I should put it all into Scrivener, that picking apart the pieces, summarizing the scenes, figuring out where the plot pieces are, that maybe it’ll help rebirth Capsule and get it to work in its current form.  I’m going to do that, in a large part because it will also help me dissect the two stories from each other, attempt to pull apart these conjoined twins without killing one or the other.  If that surgery is needed, it won’t be easy, but who ever said writing a novel was?

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