I’ve begun my 6-month writing project (as outlined in my last post And now for my next trick …) and I’m slowly putting together the elements I gleaned from the four novels I’m using to create a narrative structure.
Orlando gave me the gift of time – how it can be manipulated, stretched, reflected, represented, or ignored. I’ve decided my main character (MC) will have various interactions with himself from different times in his past. I’m borrowing from the Marvel multiverse in that not all the ‘selves’ are from his own timeline. Maybe a Sliding Doors homage?
Doctor Sleep gave me the gift of mind – what happens in our minds (how we think, how we interpret, how we absorb) is as real as what happens in our hands. My MC will be interacting with his other selves in a space outside his/their reality. I haven’t quite figured out where that will be, or how he gets there, but I am sure it will come to me as the story unfolds.
The Slap gave me the gift of perspective – two people can have different experiences of the same event. This allows the narrative to be abducted by my MC’s other selves, and for conflict to arise between selves as they disagree about specific experiences. My MC will be viewing most of these experiences through a memory lens, while his other selves may be experiencing it in their present. As we all know, the lens of time can distort memories.
The Road gave me the gift of form – how we read something, the structure of the words on the page, can be as great an influence on the reader as the plot. This is probably the most challenging part of the project, as I’m not sure where to start in creating the physical structure of the page. I think this needs to wait until the basic story is outlined, so I can see what is happening as a whole and rewrite within a physical structure to match the plot. I also think I could use different physical structures for different selves. I wouldn’t want to make things too easy for myself!
I feel like I am making progress on this project, although the sparsity of words on the page cries ‘liar’ at me every time I think about it. It’s always surprising how unforgiving we writers can be on ourselves. I’ve been doing a lot of research to get to this point, and I need to remind myself not to devalue this work merely because it isn’t the creative writing part of the project.
I can’t finish without acknowledging the extraordinary privilege I am currently experiencing as I write while I travel around the world. So far I’ve been to Honolulu, Maui, Napa Valley, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. Today I am off to Texas. Really, I couldn’t ask for anything better right now!