Things I am always trying to put in novels which never really fit

Saturday, July 28, 2012

  1. Urban legends. Like that one about the woman who lost her pinky finger in the mad sales at a shopping centre, picked it up off the floor, and finished her Christmas shopping before going to the hospital to have it reattached. I don't think this has actually ever happened, but I have been told it by a few people who swore that their cousin/best friend/aunt swore it was true. I am always trying to include stupid (and often made up) anecdotes in stories where they don't fit. Also I love this story: it's hilarious, and even though I am fairly sure it didn't happen, I can imagine that it might.
  2. A girl called Wolf. Between writing Girl Saves Boy and my bank robbery book (which is being published next year), I wrote this really wacky, really terrible murder mystery novel called Signs & Wonders (I still like that title. I can't remember where I stole it from). The central character was sarcastic and obnoxious and her name was Wolf. But the book was terrible! And I still liked the name! So in another novel I started but never finished, she was the freckled, mysterious (how's that combination?) object of another protagonist's affection. But that name didn't really fit with her and there wasn't enough of a story to sustain that novel to novel-length, and so I gave the name Wolf to the twin of a narrator of another story I never finished. I think I need to give up on the name.
  3. Girls with male names generally. I have trouble with gender-appropriate names. This is often because the genders of my characters change a lot.
  4. Single narrators. Everything that I write that's vaguely successful (by which I mean everyone who reads it doesn't hate it) has multiple narrators. I have started many, many novels with just the one narrator, and finished a couple of them, but they are always terrible. I do not know why.
  5. Non-linear timelines. I always want to go all Pulp Fiction/Memento and write a book out of order, which is thrilling and fast-paced and great. Sometimes I try and include time travel as well, just to get really tricky. It never works out. Everything written out of order ends up back in order when I'm editing, because really, it's just confusing.
  6. Sarcastic, cigarette-smoking grandmas. Geraldine in Girl Saves Boy is sarcastic and cigarette-smoking, but she is not a grandma. My grandmother is certainly not sarcastic and cigarette-smoking. I don't think I would write that sort of character quite as much if she were.
  7. Twins. I have a lot of failed novels about twins.
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