Friday, July 9, 2010

The Next Great American Novel

I have this great idea for a novel.

I know, I know. Everybody has a great idea for a novel. It’s kind of like a “get-rich-quick” scheme for the literate, only it’s really more of a “stay-poor-anyway” scheme given the way publishing tends to work. Fortunately I am a historian, which means that I’m not fated to make money anyway and wouldn’t know what to do with it if I did. I’d probably just buy more books.

And so we see that all of life is a circle.

But I think it really would make a good story, and I find myself thinking about it when I read other books. Especially the fiction I like to read, which tends toward science fiction and fantasy novels where The Fate Of The World is at stake.

You know, it’s a pretty big world.

I have often thought, as I read tales of epic battles and high-stakes confrontations and all that, “What does this mean to some nobody in Peru?” I mean, does the world end there, too? Does he even know that The Fate Of The World is being decided somewhere else? Is it like seeing a storm over the horizon, or just something that happens completely outside the radar screen?

I just finished a series set in Britain where the ancient Celtic gods have come back. They are somewhat annoyed at the modern world and they do their best to make it go away. They succeed, but the action of the series comes from how the humans (notably the Dysfunctional Five, the heroes of this tale) react to all of this.

What does this mean to some nobody in Peru? Peru is a long way from Britain. Are there ancient Peruvian gods doing much the same thing over there? How would they coordinate with the Celtic ones? Do gods have phones? And if nothing is happening in Peru, why not? All right, so the Celtic gods have worked their bit in Britain and everybody dies but them. Other than a shortage of imported tea, what impact does this have on my guy in Peru?

I think it would be fun to write a story about that guy in Peru, just going about his day while The Fate Of The World was being decided elsewhere. It wouldn’t have to be Peru, I suppose – it could be anywhere not close to the Main Crisis. Maybe he’s in Zimbabwe, or Laos, or Canada. The trick would be getting enough drama into that story to make it work, since I’m fairly convinced The Fate Of The World is more localized than most authors make it out to be and it would therefore mostly be a story of someone going about his days while big things happen offstage.

Sort of like my own life, I guess.


Unknown said...

Dave, you oughta get an agent, print out your blog and hand it to him/her. If Dave Barry can make money off of writing, so can you.

David said...


tellthestories said...

So, how about actually sharing the author/series titles? Looking for some August vacation reading...

And yes, what beatricemdfr said. Your blog is some of the most entertaining writing I've read.

David said...

Thank you too!

The series was called The Age of Misrule, by Mark Chadbourn. It was interesting enough to slog through it all, though not something you'd breathlessly tell people to go out and read. I'll email you with some better ideas :).