Notes on Writing "The Purple Orb"
Since this site is soon to be transferred to the new location, I will be posting my Chapters on my own website. I am building the page slowly and will notify readers here and on Dreamwidth when it is up for viewing. Thanks for your patience. Okay! Here is the link to the two first chapters.
My original intention was to write what I called “Long Stories” in opposition to the annoying (to me) trend of writing ever shorter and shorter short-shorts which eventually terminated in the Tale of the Tweet, i.e., right down to the level of 140 characters or less. My own preference of sentence length inclines toward the Johnsonian as perfected by Austen with nicely balanced concepts on either side of the fulcrum of a semi-colon. However, I also wanted to develop the idea of three-way choices throughout, as I was tired, tired, tired TO DEATH of binary thinking, stupid double binds, and trrraaagicalllyy over-emoted false traps in a lot of contemporary fiction; so the actual thought-pivot, in practice, might well be a double-hinged pair of semi-colons or a rounded cluster of loosely related clauses, like clumps of nutty ideas in a hefty mass of peanut brittle held together by the glue of mood, atmosphere, and a deliberately dense writing style. (LOTS of adjectives and adverbs, yum.)
I estimated that I could write stories of approximately 40,000 words each, and combine them into one book for a respectable novel-length work of about 120,000 words. At the time, I felt this was a highly original and at least satisfyingly oppositional means to buck the trend. I have since learned that this approach is called a “Story Suite” after the similar idea of a musical composition consisting of a collection of songs or melodic lines with similar instrumentation and inter-related variations on a set of themes. So: thematically related stories about different events which share a common fictional world and a variable cast of characters, with a few well-developed regulars and a cast of thousands, if I liked, but working out in practice to about ten to fifteen people 'on stage' during the course of one story.
This notion was based on my experience of putting together an 80,000 word quasi-novelette which, at the time of compilation, seemed to me like sweating bullets. If you are new to longer forms, you too might experience this feeling of constriction. I believe it is like giving birth: once the first baby is born, the delivery channel is stretched out and the next one is likely to be easier. YMMV.
Okay. So I start writing. I write by ear, not by visuals. I hate and envy people who can write by the visual sense, because it is primary for most people and 'THOSE people' can grab a reader by the short eyelash hairs and drag them into their created world in a blink of time. Grrr. Those of us who merely “hear” our stories have to work overtime and doubletime and backwards to insert into our already wearily overworked prose the little touches, visual cues, aromas, and tastes that give sensory body and fullness to keep the readers appetites fed with a balanced diet. Prose that only appeals to one sense, I find dry and lacking in essential oils and fats. Again, YMMV. Rapid-paced story-telling skips this revision step in order to just keep on going, such as the clean, straightforward, functional, if unremarkable, prose of J.K Rowling. Lots of people like it, and it has undoubted motive power when one is gripped by the 'what's next' of the story.
Back to me and MY idea of what makes for a good story. I had (still do) nine story-ideas in mind to work with, which, when done, would complete the overall idea-complex, and I could move on to other works whose irons were still in the fire. Annnnggghhht ( a you-fail buzzer sound). No such luck. The very first story expanded and expanded and spilled over the mill race and started the mill-wheel into turning and grain flooded in from some silo situated in the Unknown, so that finer and finer gradations of grist came puffing out, till the whole inside of my head was a floury fog of confused sound, song, and fury. Oh, my word! Oh, my words! I had about 300,000 of them, no driving motive of a storyline, just one demned thing after another and more waiting to parade past and all grabbing at my limited span of attention. A whirl of a world, into which I was tossed willynillywonka.
This was when I got the idea to put my growing pile of quilting scraps (heard scenes, dialogs, background exposition, etc.) into a spreadsheet with keywords for quick sorting and organizing. It didn't help. Well, not at all for the first story, which had become a quest to rival Frodo's, but it did assist me in completing one of the nine Longs, and almost finishing this fragmentary piece now before you. I have the beginning down solid, the ending all polished and ready to go, but a doughy, half-baked middle—story of my writing life, where long works are in view.