Friday, May 11, 2012

Books DO Burn Up

Often ideas or novels being written will go on the back burner. For any number of reasons. Perhaps it’s not fully formed quite yet. Or it’s not flowing. Or another project demands action instead. Whatever the cause, there always seem to be simmering stories.

But can they ever burn up completely?

Probably not officially, as one can just never tell what will rise from the ashes if they do. But that’s not to say that they can’t become ash first.

I suspect They Never Left, a novel of mine on said back burner, will no longer have more written upon it. It’s kind of sad, I suppose. But then again, there’s so much else to be done, I can’t really cry over blank pages. Why is it allegedly defunct now? A few reasons, actually.

Not in order of importance, one factor is that the world in which it takes place is rapidly diminishing. The irony here, of course, is that I’d set it in non-fictional Chicago. Sounds like it’s not possible, right? But back in this post, I explained how many of the actual locales I’d written into the tale no longer exist. Lots which have been vacant for many years have been built up, for instance, or shops have gone away. How can I create real-Chicago on paper when the places I want to use keep disappearing - or else have new additions? Turns out Gil lives very near one of the most important locations in the book... and I see there’s now a statue there. [I don’t want the statue there! ;) ]  (Not to mentiion a crucial bit being painted over.)

Another issue is that I’m finding the “point” behind the tale might better be served in a different book on the back burner. It seems issues I’m addressing in narrative form have a bit of crossover. That’s to be expected, given the issues are important to me. But if one tale is able to carry the same message just as well as the other, do both need to be written?

That, I suspect, depends on the power of the story. Does each hold enough merit to warrant its own novel? If I’m to be honest with myself, thinking back on it, there’s not much excitement to hold interest in They Never Left. At least for me. And if I’m not "gung ho" about it, can I really expect others to be? They Never Left, as it stands, tells of two buddies (a guy & a girl) who are out to assemble a particular group. Thus, right now it’s naught more than solving puzzles to find each member and convince them to reconvene... fun and engaging as it happens, sure – but on the whole? Once the group is assembled, it will likely turn out to just be a “heady” novel without much action. Probably best not explored, especially when the seed concept can be incorporated into a better tale  It is true, though, that two folks read what I have so far [Doodles and Air] and they enjoyed what they read.  But to reiterate, it doesn't have the potential to pan out into something great.  There is one particular line that I’m reluctant to lose, though. But it’s certainly not worth completing the novel for that one stab at reality. Maybe I can work it into the other novel, but it doesn’t fit as well that I can see at this moment.

I will, however, absolutely hate to abandon the one character. I’ve gotten pretty darn fond of him. Mostly because of his defiant nature. Not so much within the storyline, but with me. He’s a strong-willed creation who has no trouble telling me what he does and doesn’t like or just what’s up in general. [Such as that hairstyle as seen in the pic.  He INSISTS on it!]  Sometimes I miss him... which stands to reason that I shouldn’t throw him away. And I don’t have to, certainly, but then – how can I get rid of his best friend? He’ll squawk at me for sure! Don’t get the impression that I dislike her. On the contrary. It’s just that she’s the catalyst for the novel’s progression – she’s the one who’s determined to find the group. Besides that, she’s sort of set up to be in this story. And I just don’t see her truly functioning outside of her namesake.

I also really like the ending.  It's the sort that establishes another part of the story, too.  A la sequel.  In fact, They Never Left had been meant to spawn any number of sequels, limited only by the resource materials.  And there'd been quite a bit.  Truth is, though, that beyond book two the notions were too vague.  But it would have been a terrific conclusion/cliff-hanger!

One might think that the solution is easy... to place these two friends as characters in the other novel instead. Won’t work, however. At least not how I conceived the other novel. This one is the “ghost story” that I’m dealing with – and the living characters in it are not meant to be prominent. As I’ve already said, the guy I like is quite outspoken and he just wouldn’t stand for being secondary. Or not hearing his name.  [It's quite a name.]

And thus, I’m thinking that They Never Left to have charred away instead of simmered. 'Tis a pity, for a ton of research and work went into this book.  But then, that's true of any book I write.  Naturally, I can rescue the guy and girl from the pages. They might not fit in the other novel, but who’s to say they won’t have another adventure I need to write? I hope so. For I really do like him.

But one thing is for sure – should these two show up again in my pages, they’ll be living in a fictionalized Chicago – or at least one that's not so damn accurate.

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