I started brainstorming and outlining the new Smooth Charles novel. The tentative title is Smooth Vengeance, which rolls off the tongue well and suggests certain themes and conflicts. I was planning on ‘saving’ that title for later but after thinking about it, it makes sense for it to come now. Revenge is a driving force for Smooth, a duty he feels obligated to pursue, even if it costs him the love and respect of his new partner, even if it costs him his life.
I just started moving the pieces around last night, indeed, I’m still making the pieces. So there’s a lot that could change even from that bare start of an idea. Now I have to start thinking about the structure of the book*. I’m re-reading Donald Maass’ “Writing the Breakout Novel”, the accompanying workbook as well as McKee’s “Story”.
One of the things I have to nail down in the next five days or so is how to begin the novel. I have a scene or two in mind but I’m wondering if I shouldn’t do a prologue with the bad guys instead. It’s always nice to see the players behind the scenes in prologues, especially since they don’t appear in the narrative itself very much. Robert Jordan did these kind of prologues well and I suppose that had an influence on me.
Same thing with the first chapter, my thought is to start off in the middle of an ‘errand’, maybe even showing the whole setup, the run, the place where to goes sideways. Almost a short story at the start of a novel. This approach to the first chapter will start things out with a bang and set the reader’s expectations about what kind of book this is going to be. I can also start planting seeds for the overall plot, theme and a subplot or two. I like the idea but a novel is a novel, not a short story. I think everything needs to feel part of the whole and if I write this like a short story, I’m afraid it might stand apart too much.
Sigh. Beginnings are a very delicate time, to quote Princess Irulan**. But I can always fix things later. The important thing is to get the story started. Can’t wait. :)
*yes, damn it, I’ve been infected by all those damned books on writing. I’m actually thinking about how books are structured and me, an exploration writer at heart.
** Yes, I know the actual quote is “A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.” But I actually prefer the movie’s quote.