Day 13 – Cannonball

I got my hour in early today – well, relatively early. Before evening. I’m feeling great — I actually want to keep writing, even after the buzzer has gone. I take that to be a good sign.

I’m still trying to play with the style a bit — I’m leaning towards a bit of a more journalistic style, kind of like The New Journalism style in Tom Wolfe’s book that Duncan Weller was telling me about. I haven’t actually read the book yet, but I feel that I have a sense of that style already, having read some of Wolfe’s stuff as well as Hunter S. Thompson. The Great Gatsby, I think, could be put into that genre as well, at least as a forerunner. After all, who is Nick Carraway but a narrator reporting on someone else’s story? I’m certain it wasn’t Fitzgerald’s intention to invent The New Journalism, but echoes are there nonetheless.

The problem I’m having though is that my narrator also has a life going on around him. His story is the main story in this book, which isn’t the case in Gatsby or Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I suppose it is in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, though, so perhaps that is the angle I need to take. A self-reporting story as well as a reporting story. Perhaps I can work in some other layers there too, where the reader actually understands more about the narrator than the narrator does, simply by the way he tells the story. Tricky, I’m sure. But worth shooting for.

So it comes back to how I want to tell the story. The New Journalism style appeals to me for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that at the moment I’m more comfortable writing non-fiction than fiction. If I approach the story as a non-fiction story, I think it will ultimately be more interesting for the reader simply because that is where my writing strength lies (right now).

On the other hand, if I go with a more fiction-writing approach, I can learn that style as I go. It may take longer and more rewrites, but it would smooth out eventually.

And then there is that voice I was talking about. I don’t think it matters which writing style I decide upon, that voice will work well for either one. It will certainly help with leading the reader to see “behind the words” of the narrator to the real story going on in the background.

Still lots to consider I guess. But I’m hoping these questions naturally resolve themselves as I go along, and the voice and style will be “locked in” by the time I get to the rewriting stage.

One last note that I’ll expand upon in later posts — I’m using Google maps to really help me with setting. Right now the story is taking place in an area of Toronto that I’ve never really been in. However, I can describe settings quite well using real street views of the area — something that writers couldn’t do up until a couple of years ago. I’m really excited about this, not just because now I can see locations first-hand without actually being there (an immense advantage) but also because of the technology itself. The Internet is opening up the world in a way that could never happen before. Part of the fabric of this novel is to take full advantage of that.

~Graham

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3 Responses to Day 13 – Cannonball

  1. Kelly says:

    Graham,

    I think you’d be great at a journalistic style because of all your professional experience. And why fight your strengths, right? It is done, but not often, and with your natural advantage it seems perfect for your novel.

    (Google maps and other services like it do rock. I do a lot of genealogy work as a side-obsession and I can sometimes zoom right in on a house a long-forgotten relative lived in, things like that. Funny how the original purposes of technology can get twisted by real users!)

    Regards,

    Kelly
    Kelly’s most recent blog post: It’s Not Worth The Wait

    • Graham says:

      Hi Kelly,

      That’s exactly the way I’m leaning. I did a bit of research last night into “The New Journalism” — Wolfe’s original book is out of print, as is a cool-looking book about the New Journalism and its writers. However, I was able to find excerpts through Google Books, and it is kind of interesting.

      The difference, of course, is that while they were fictionalizing fact, I’d be factualizing fiction. Not precisely, of course. In style only.

      This presents several advantages though, I think. Not only does it play into my own style, but I think more and more people are reading non-fiction books these days (I’ll have to look for stats on that…) So although this would be fiction, perhaps a non-fiction style would have a broader appeal.

      Also, this approach would lend itself well to the storyline and themes of the book. I read a bit of Hunter S. Thompson last night, and he’e got a brilliant exchange with a Texan at the Kentucky Derby. There’s an edge – a violence even – in his writing that really adds to the story (some might argue, becomes the story in lieu of anything real to write about…) The whole article seemed to be a prelude to “Fear and Loathing…” – in fact I think it was this article that was the first to be called Gonzo journalism.

      I don’t want to copy Thompson by any means, but there is an interesting angle here. In a writing course I once took, one assignment we had was to write an e.e. cummings poem. Nobody nailed it, BUT everyone (or most people, including me) came up with their best poems to date, simply by trying to imitate another writer. Perhaps this could work for me here too.

      One of the main criticisms of “The New Journalism” (as a journalistic style) is that is really isn’t new at all. You could trace satire, etc. back to Swift and probably further. No writer writes in a vacuum. Why not embrace the stuff that’s come before, and make it your own?

      I think, for me, it’s worth a try.

      ~Graham

  2. Pingback: Novel Writing Blog - Day 31 - May Day | A Few Strong Words

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