Where Walks… The Novel! (Part 1)

Posted: May 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

Had a major revelation about what made April so awful. We’ll talk about that next time. Today, as promised, the long-awaited “what the heck is this Great Pulp Novel of yours going to be about?” blog post.

Also, not having surgery tomorrow, despite being scheduled for it without being informed. We’re going to be getting a consult for a second opinion and talking over our options this week, as well as getting in some nice family time so that we can get this thing scheduled next week.

Anyway. The novel.

A long time ago, novelist Stephen R. Donaldson wrote that for him, writing ideas were like ping pong balls floating around in his head, the way that they do in those lotto blowers. Or maybe electrons, I don’t remember exactly. Anyway, he said that a single idea wasn’t usually strong enough to build a story upon. Two probably weren’t, either. What happened in his head was that he would wait for one idea to impact another, where they would stick together and become something larger… and that larger idea would hit another, some would stick well, others would bounce off. Eventually he would have a structure of ideas that was unique and engaging. This, despite my inability to describe it compellingly, is how I always imagine my ideas coming together. So, with that in mind, here are the lotto balls that came together into the novel we’re all going to be working on. (Yes, I know, except for you, there in the back. You’re just auditing. I understand.)

Ball One: Gotterdammerung. The Twilight of the Gods. I love endings. I really love epic endings. I’ve been a huge fan of Norse mythology since I was a kid, and the most compelling idea they have is Ragnarok, the day all the gods died. I wanted to do a story that captured that kind of elegiac end-of-an-era feel. Bill Willingham (author of Fables) wrote a great comic series called Pantheon where he wrote the end of a superhero universe… no beginning, no middle, just bang into the ending. I loved the idea of that, telling the backstory as you go along.

Ball Two: 2000AD. Britain’s longest running weekly comic, 2000AD is a boy’s anthology, similar to Eagle or Shonen Jump. (Yes, I’ll wait here while you look those up.) It comes out every Wednesday, offering five stories a week, eight page chapters of ongoing serials with rotating characters. It’s where Judge Dredd came from, as well as other never-heard-of-in-America characters like Sinister Dexter, Slaine, Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog, Nikolai Dante, etc., etc. It’s where many of the great comic writers cut their teeth, people like Alan Moore, Garth Ennis and personal writing hero Grant Morrison. The magazine has both a rich history and a huge canon of characters… but there’s something additional that I find fascinating about the magazine, and that’s the way you have to read it. Instead of reading a single linear story, each week you read a chapter of several different stories, juggling them in your head week to week, making a greater metatextual whole. It’s like a microcosm of how I read monthly comics, or how people watch serial television. Anyway, it’s something I wanted to play around with.

Ball Three: Oops! Out of time today! We’ll continue our exploration of the novel tomorrow, with balls three and up. Then maybe I’ll actually get around to describing the plot.

Yes, I did go to the Jeffrey Murphy school of milking a joke.


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