Brainstorming Julius

by RS on October 30, 2010

Although I’m in the middle of the NANOWRIMO insanity, I’m still working on Julius when I have a spare moment, and I thought I would take the time and share some brainstorming ideas, at least get them down and see if I can iron out this issue that’s been bugging me for a while.

So here goes. . .Julius is the name of the magazine, named after Julius Rosenberg, modeled somewhat after the New Masses with a Lower East Side focus. The problem I have is that LES focus  is too narrow, and after spending time researching the New Masses, I’m thinking that Julius should be a 21st version of the New Masses that reaches out to a very left-wing audience with 21st sensibilities and concerns. Marxist in thought, with reviews, art, essays, but dealing with the issues of post-terrorist America during a time that conservatism seemed at its peak (remember the story takes place before the Great Recession) and everyone seems to be rolling in the dough. So while many publications were writing about the boom, the Merry Marxists are the gloom team, raining on everyone’s parade and crying the sky is falling. So perhaps Julius is all about prescience or since it’s Marxist and it’s about history repeating itself. However, I still think that it should have concerns about the LES since that makes the magazine more personal to the characters.

That seems to make sense, and now I have to go back and change A LOT of the manuscript. Oy. That’s okay, though, it’s the ongoing tale of revision.

Another issue to deal with is Corinne’s secret of why she dropped out of her Ph.D. program. I think I have it worked out, but I need to weave more of that mystery/subplot within the story and interweave that with the whole movie obsession I have going for her. Double oy.

Lastly, the continuing saga of backstory. One of The Final Draft Workshop members made a very valid point. He wrote:

. . . you want the reader asking questions and curious.  If you are telling them something that they are curious about, of course they won’t complain.  And it will work.  But you might have to tease them at first.  Give them hints.  Get them wondering.

So, that’s the danger of early back-story.  If you give it on data that you know is important, but the reader doesn’t, you lose.  End of story.  They’ll stop reading- or at least, if they are an agent they will.

There are no real rules in writing.  The reason we harp on each other over “rules” shouldn’t be because we foolishly believe that all the “rules” must be followed.  If we think that, we’re silly.  But if you break a rule, you better know that you’re doing it.  And there better be a good reason.

Any time the story clock “stops” in a novel, it’s a potential problem.  It may still work.  Again, it boils down to are you answering a question that the reader is dying to know about.  If so, they’ll read those 75 pages,[in reference to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom] and be blissfully happy that you gave them what they wanted.  But I think you have to earn it.  You can’t just say, “So and so author can do it, therefore so can I.”  You must get the reader to want those 75 pages.  They must be at a point where if you didn’t give them that data, they might put the book down for that reason.  Then, it comes across smoothly.

So back to the drawing board on some of these flashback scenes, and rework scenes that will get the reader wondering why Corinne does what she does.

That’s all for now. Need to get my cup o’ Joe and start writing!

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