I’m glad that writing the “Obscure, Obfuscate, etc.” blog is finally over because I can now finally press on to more important matters like going back to writing more interesting stuffs. It is not a complete waste, though, because I have learned how to write from a novelist point of view other than writing from a first person’s such as this one.
I was supposed to give it a shot on writing a novel for 30 days as per invitation of redroom.com because I thought I haven’t tried writing a novel before and the idea of trying new things is really something I find myself having a hard time to resist. Nonetheless, I wasn’t able to push through with the idea for a number of good reasons.
First, I have already forgotten the number of words required to make a novel so I had to go back to my old references and dig up old information while I conjure some ideas about my story. As a review, a novel requires at least 50,000 words and anything less would fall on the short story category. Then, I was confronted with the dilemma of what story should I write about. So three days later of brainstorming and writing some drafts on various scratch papers or table napkins I could find or came my way, I have finally thought of a good story to tell. We all know the fact that you can only write what you know, so it brought me back to my story I have been writing about for half of my lifetime now. The thing is that script was not meant for a novel published in paperback because I designed it to be a graphic novel. Simply put, it has hundred of pictures or images that all in itself will tell the story or convey the idea immediately to the readers.
Now that could spell a lot of disaster on my part. I cannot redesign the script nor change its format to fit as a traditional novel. Not only that, the time spent would all go to waste just trying to re-write everything just to accommodate the necessary changes.
Again, after staring on the hypnotic rhythm of my cursor on the blank screen and tapping my pen on my own tune, I found myself thinking what I should be writing about. Questions began to flood my head, swirling vortex of thoughts came until I finally realized that I have a certain character in my story that happens to be also a favorite of mine. Unfortunately, in that time frame, the story doesn’t revolve around him but focuses more on the younger protagonist. Now we’re talking! Finally, we have something to write about.
To compensate and to make his story consistent with my current script, I pushed the time back where he would still be young (in his mid thirties) as to give him a great opportunity to show how hard-nosed and dedicated he is to his job, and the ardor and zeal that lead him both to trouble and success. More of a prequel thing.
That’s great! Sounds easy enough. So after drinking the last drop of my hot chocolate and put everything in the sink, I padded toward my room and quickly sat on the computer chair. I was so thrilled and excited I swiftly place my fingers on the home keys to make a draft of the script/story for my very first novel. You probably thought that the sound you would hear in the middle of the night is the relaxing soft clicks and taps of my computer’s keyboard as I churned pages after pages of ideas. Far from it. Silence resounded throughout my room, more deafening as it could ever be. You could almost hear a crow passing through my head. And the only sound that breaks the monotony of the night is the lowly cricket, minding its own business as it proceeds to do what it does best: chirping (if my memory serves me right, I believe it is called stridulation). Then it struck me. I don’t have the slightest idea on how to write a novel! Silly me, I should have focused on the “how” rather than on the “what”.
A little frustrated, I got up and went to my book shelf, browsed it to see if there is a novel that I may have previously bought but never got around to finish much less to read it. All right, no novels officially stacked on my own mini “Great Works Library” shelf, only hundreds of tons of references on “How To’s” and other self-help books. Come to think of it, maybe it’s time for me to upgrade this shelf because my other books won’t fit here anymore. Hey, wait a minute; I also placed some downstairs inside the Chinese Cabinet. So I went down, three steps at a time to reach the cabinet as fast as I could to see if there is one that I have forgotten. Just my luck, there is one all right, a classic American literature. Moby Dick. Last time I remember the language it used is really classical, trademark of the late 19th century and it was written on a “first person” point of view. These are not the requirements I’m looking for. What I need is a contemporary novel, falls on the detective line of work and more importantly, how to describe a fast paced scene using only words and nothing else. I cannot write something that falls more on nostalgia and adventure.
So, back to the shelf you go, Moby Dick, Captain Ahab is looking for you.
As always, I have to rely on the internet to do some researching. The only detective story I could think of is the popular Sherlock Holmes. However, it also cannot be a good source of reference for me, because I can always bet that the language Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used is contemporary English, and by contemporary I mean the point of his time when he first wrote about the brilliant detective. Okay, the Dark Knight doesn’t qualify here either, simply because I’m not writing about a detective who is well equipped with a lot of gadgets and can swing from building to building. My character is not that theatrical, he is only armed with a 9mm Glock pistol and does his job passionately (sorry guys, I cannot delve further into details. Copy right stuff).
Anyway, after much brainstorming and researching in the internet I came up empty handed. No luck on how to write a novel or worse, I didn’t see any sample novel that I could study its written format. Surprisingly, the last novel I read was three years ago and as history would reverberate; I didn’t bother to have my own copy. Moreover, the story doesn’t jibe to my current requirement. Twenty-four hours later, I was still browsing the local library for any possible source of information for a good detective novel. But the thing is, I don’t have the slightest idea of what title I’m looking for, and the librarian is no help either. She is simply out at the moment, like in a deep trance totally engrossed on stamping the returned books on her table. I wonder if she even noticed me standing there as I asked for a suggestion about a detective novel. All the same, I don’t mind if the protagonist would be a female because I’m not particular about the gender as long as the story is plausible and good. As a matter of fact, I have my own female protagonist on my script, but as I have mentioned before, she’s not the one I’m writing about and her story together with my main protagonist is done and simply awaiting some illustration and future publication. What’s also important is to see how writers presented their story even if it is without pictures, and one good novel would suffice as an example. After an hour or so, I’m still out of luck, zilch. No detective novel that neither suited my taste nor a single story that appealed to me.
After a week or so, I went to the nearest National bookstore in my neighborhood to see if I can find some novel that will meet my requirement. As always, it has been a good source of reference for me. Hundreds of contemporary novels were there just waiting and perfectly ripe for the picking. Michael Crichton, uh no. Jurassic Park theme is not the requirement. Dan Brown’s novels like the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons could be a good reference but I’m not in the mood to re-read the former. Better keep looking. My fingers went on to browse the shelf as it touches the books’ spine. Wait a second, how about Sidney Sheldon’s The Doomsday Conspiracy? Nope, no title found in that shelf and the sales lady said it’s out of stock. Still searching and guess who I’ve ran into? Robert Ludlum. That’s nice, maybe I should settle for his popular bestselling novels of the Bourne Identity series? I haven’t read any of his novels before but I have seen the movies and that just don’t seem to add up. Maybe next time I’ll buy a copy of it. No novels so far. I crouched down to peer onto the lower shelf hoping to find a good novel. This is after all, the last shelf I’ve been browsing for thirty minutes. Bourne Legacy? I know I’ve seen this in Wikipedia but I’m not so sure if that is the title they featured before. I believe it’s more of a Bourne Betrayal title. Anyway, might as well it give a shot. What’s important is that it is a fresh novel.
Contented on the book I purchased, I quickly went home and began reading it, keeping in mind my purpose. I was hooked and before I knew it, it was way past 11 p.m. To make the long story short, it took me to read Eric Van Luster’s novel one week to finish. Now I know how writers write a good novel. Every single detail of their facial expression down to the minutiae of their body movements is fully described. Furthermore, Dr. Rozakis tip hit the bull’s eye because as she said, your writing must appeal to the senses so the readers would have a better idea to grasp what the atmosphere or the current scenario you’re telling.
Come to think of it, novel writing is much easier (at least for me) than it is to write a graphic novel in terms of the process of making one. First, novels only require you to write, come up with a good plot and story line. Never mind the number of words required, you’ll get it done because as you go along on writing the story you’ll accomplish it in anyway. Second, the biggest dilemma you’ll ever encounter in the process is finding a publisher (at least for me). However, you’ll have to very detailed in describing every scene and actions your characters are doing or into. Since you don’t have any images to convey, you will have to rely on the words to do that job. Otherwise, your readers will be at a loss on a particular scene and would probably lose interest in your story altogether.
In contrast, graphic novels have hundreds of images that your readers will quickly see. They won’t rely on their imagination on the story you are telling since the pictures are communicating for you. Here, you can do a lot of special effects and use vibrant colors to further enhance a particular scene. Of course, it follows logic that albeit you have a good graphic image, you must also have a good story. A good story is always a requirement, no questions marks here. However, graphic novels are tedious. As in my case, I have to be the writer, the director, the penciller and the inker, and the colorist all rolled into one. In addition, it costs more when you will be publishing whether you will do it on your own or having a publisher to do it.
Back to my first novel writing, I think I still need some further research on the conflict. Since it is a detective, mystery thriller story I should come up with a deep sense of story line that would perhaps appeal to the readers.
At least, I have my main character for it. Though I’m really itching to tell you the details and the plot, I’m prevented from doing so lest the idea would be stolen. But my detective’s name is Wayne (let’s skip the last name). Nope, it was not derived from Bruce Wayne a.k.a. the Batman, the World’s Greatest Detective. His name was derived from my favorite author and in a way, a tribute for him. I first thought of giving him that name six or seven years ago when I was drafting the characters in my script. Because as I have mentioned before, most of the characters were unnamed for the simple reason I was looking for a name worth remembering. And since I am the creator, I decided to put Dr. Dyer’s first name.
I enjoyed the experience on learning how to write a novel. Now it’s time to get to work and begin writing my very first novel.