I question this as I go along. Is this the kind of novel I want to write? Do I want it to be one of the traditional genres or types? You know: mainstream, literary, mystery, thriller, etc., or a hybrid, say a literary thriller.
I'm trying to write the kind of novel I want to read. And that is a tall order, because I am extremely critical.
It is very difficult to find something other than a classic that I think is well written. I can read Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy and Camus and the other greats, but contemporary fiction, to me, is mostly unbearable.
I especially hate those hyper-clever novels by young writers who think they are geniuses. Jonathan Safran Foer comes to mind. I tried to read his big hit "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," which I hated with a passion.
Those writers have done nothing in their lives but go to school and read, and they think their vapid, vacuous "hey-look-at-me, ma, I'm-a-writer" crap is worth reading.
It isn't, and I hope they are embarrassed by it some day when they grow up. As I recall, one whole page in Foer's "novel" is occupied by a photo of a doorknob. This is clever? This is writing? No, it isn't. It's phony pretentious crap. Everything in that novel becomes an intellectual game.
Anyway, back to my own writing. What I'm trying to do is write a realistic novel that is actually about something, and that engages the reader on more than one level, and has something to say.
My novel needs to have all the traditional elements of a good story: a main character you care about, who is trying to do something important to him. He gets himself into deep trouble, trying to do the right thing, and as he struggles to get himself out, he gets in deeper.
There needs to be a moral dilemma, a series of difficult choices, and the main guy needs to learn something and have his life changed by these events and by his struggles.
That may sound awfully traditional, but this is storytelling, not just showing off.
© Copyright 2011, Roger R. Angle