Monday, November 22, 2010

New Novel Fragment

I write novels in fragments, sometimes entire chapters, but hardly ever in a linear fashion.  An image, an idea, or whatever occurs to me, and so I write it.  It just happens, and I piece it all together later.  How much later?  When I have to.  I'll know it when it happens.  I don't outline because I just report what happens; in that way I'm more like a reporter than a writer.  I did finally outline towards the end of Cursing the Darkness, and I filled in a few glaring holes that I wouldn't have caught otherwise, but I'm happy overall with my design.  I think all of that might change with this newest novel, Apocalypse.  I see a trilogy forming here, one mostly focusing on flu or plague dominated scenes, and their aftermath, and all of their intricacies, told from 1st person limited POV and 3rd person omniscient POV, as well as journals and diaries, and some of the characters may intermingle with others who are also telling the story, and I'll jump around, too, telling this story from both 1665 and 2022, and maybe points in between.  I've already discussed the Eyam scenario (see posts below), but how about a diary entry written from sub-Saharan Africa, from the epicenter of the AIDS virus, while it was wiping out entire villages in the 60s and 70s and nobody knew what the hell was going on?  For that matter, how about such a scenario now, when everyone does know what the hell is going on but the numbers are the worst ever, and getting worse?  Imagine being someone in sub-Saharan Africa, or Eyam, England, and watching everyone die around you?  I see some social criticism seeping into this novel as well--How couldn't it?

So here's a little fragment I wrote today:

H7N1.  Sounds like a Bingo call, a Battleship turn.  Not a virus strain.  Not like somthing that killed millions.  Like coordinates.  Like a code.  They say it started in chickens, in fowl.  In crows.  On the streets of Singapore.  India.  China.  It's always been around.  But then a slight mutation.  A simple virus, like a cold.

It all started with a sneeze.  A handshake.  An opening of a door.  It ended the War.  It ended the world.

(Me again.)  That's it.  I have tons of other fragments.  Sections.  Chapters.  It's taking shape; I can see it more clearly.  That's how I know it'll take three books to tell it, each veering in a different direction once The End of Days happens.  (See a recent post, below.)  I've got the design of Book 1 figured out, or at least I think it'll be the first of the trilogy.  I won't know until I work more on it.  I won't force it.  If the second or third one comes out first, so be it.  You can't force such things.  "The War," by the way, refers to World War 3, don't you see, and the fact is: You can't fight it if you're too sick.  It can't be fought if there's soon to be a lack of people to fight it.  Three or four things happen at once, a perfect storm of events.  Something else happens that stops it all, too.


  1. Sounds exciting. And scary. It's interesting to hear how you are starting a new long piece. I have a novel idea percolating, but I find writing a novel so intimating and daunting. I know i just have to start writing, but it makes me nervous.

    The other problem is most of my writing is autobiographical. Writing something fictional is also intimidating. I'm hoping writer's group will help me get over my nerves!

  2. That's not a problem. Most of the short stories I've read in my grad. class have been at least semi-autobiographical, from the likes of John Updike, Jhumpar Lahiri, Raymond Carver, Lorrie Moore, Raymond Jones, Alice Munro, etc.--Pulitzer, National Book Award winners all. Just do it. "It's the story, not he who tells it."