Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Last night my Lulu copy of The Pagani Project arrived. It's always fun for me to see the bound version because I read the manuscript in a different way as a result. I'm more critical of the flow of the prose and more sensitive to the actual emotional impact of the scenes. Even though I've revised 3 or 4 chapters since I first ordered this version, including the addition of about 3,000 words, it's still useful for me and well worth the $15 it takes to get it. And $15 is a lot right now since I'm paying a mortgage and have had to add a dog walker to my budget!
During my bus ride this morning, I read several chapters of the book. I'm responding really strangely to it because, I guess, it's different from the way I wrote before. As I was writing I experimented with different techniques, and I had forgotten about a lot of it. So now that I'm reading it, the experimental nature is coming to the forefront again.
Distance - One thing I played with is distance. This was fairly unintuitive to me because usually I think the smartest advice is to make the action feel close so that readers can experience it on a sensory level. But there are a lot of sections where I didn't do that in the book. For one, I talk a lot about habitual scenes, recurring things, rather than individual experiences. I felt that was important to make it feel like a lot of time has passed. Second, I was playing with the idea that a 300-year-old person would start to lose a lot of the smaller details. So, there are generalities throughout. Third, a lot of what the narrator reports comes from indirect information, and I really played with that idea. Some news stories are so strange as a result of the writer's attempt to reconstruct the scene. There are often jumps in logic, when a person does something that doesn't get explained. I included some of that in my scenes.
On one level, I worry that all of these devices only work to keep a reader from really getting into the story. On another level, the prose feels like it's carrying more weight behind it to me. Even though there are a lot of non-scenes, I find myself getting immersed in the prose because it feels like I'm getting information through these different layers of reporting (a story told by someone who heard the story from someone). This morning that was working for me, and I hope it works for other people too.
Reality - The premise of the book is beyond belief: Six people live for hundreds of years because they are connected to this special machine. I balanced that with a lot of things that seemed real. One of the ideas behind the book is that America has changed. It's like other dystopian books in that way, but my dystopia is far less bleak than most. But one of the things I did was move real events around the world. For example, a lot of violent crimes that took place internationally are now happening in the U.S. That way, I was able to create both the sense of reality (real crimes) with unreality (occurring much closer to home). I hope this also adds to the sense that a lot of time has passed. Think Planet of the Apes. Another way I played with reality is that I formed bridges between different past events, so that different crimes lead to other crimes in a way that didn't necessarily happen in real life. A scientists has parts of his personality that are reminiscent of Hitler. Suicide bombers have teamed up with a Jonestown-like cult leader. I didn't realize this at the time, but I think that came out of my own need to set up a bit of a "warning" about the future.
Well, I don't know if these concepts come to the forefront for people reading the book, but as I'm going over it now, I'm reminded that these were some of the mechanistic inspirations I was working with.
The other benefit of getting the Lulu book is that the manuscript feels "completed" even though I'm still working on it. As a consequence, I feel like I'm floating, and that makes me hungry to weigh myself down with a new project. I get the same feeling when I'm between reading books. I'd much rather be in the middle of stories than on either end. So, it motivates me to write something new.
What's Peanut eating? Small white crumbs on the elevator floor.
Posted by Davin Malasarn at 10:15 AM