May 18, 2007

Novel Effort

Writing is hard work. I haven't been able to do it, despite trying. I always have these great ideas for novels. I read stories in the news, and I can't help but get inspired.

Take this story, for example -- what if medical technology had been advanced enough to have saved Abraham Lincoln's life? Would a second Lincoln Administration have been able to avoid the fractious problems of reconstruction? Would Lincoln have been bogged down by the more radical, punitive wing of his own party, or would his have been a strong enough hand to have begun the rebuilding process in a way that would have healed, rather than glossed over, the deep divisions in the country still left over after the war? It could make for really interesting speculative fiction.

I've also always wanted to learn more about how deep-sea treasure hunters work. A good thriller or adventure novel can be found in this arena, to be sure. I read one enjoyable novel about treasure hunters a while back; it seemed to have a lot of potential but when it was discussing the actual treasure hunt, it was a lot of fun.

But my big inspiration today was from a very sad story. Particularly but not exclusively in Arabic countries, "honor killings" happen when a woman does something to earn social disapproval, such as when she is seen in public with a man other than her father or her husband or is thought to be exploring some religious sect other than her family's. In extreme and utterly barbaric cases, a woman's rape is thought to bring dishonor and shame on her -- as if she had somehow done something wrong -- and therefore on her entire family. To expiate the dishonor, the family kills her; such killings are not only not punished but sometimes celebrated.

So my thought was you could put together a good adventure story of a team of people who find women who are targets for "honor killings" and have to abduct these women (and maybe stage their deaths beforehand) so that they can be taken to a place of safety, away from their families who would otherwise kill them. Kind of a Scarlet Pimpernel in the Arab world, but I wasn't thinking of a story quite so light-hearted as Baroness Orczy's adventure story. I was thinking of an unabashedly pro-American story, one pointing out (through heroic example) that despite whatever flaws we may have in our own culture, we cherish and protect freedom and individual lives.

The thing is, I get all these wonderful ideas, and sometimes I even make it so far as to put together a plot arc, a treatment, or a very rough (and bad) chapter or two. Then the fact writing catches up to me -- it's hard work, it takes a lot of time, and it takes a lot of dedication. I need help and discipline if I'm ever going to follow through on writing any of these great ideas out into a real manuscript. I need the time and support to do the research I'd need to do in order to flesh out the stories as they should be fleshed out; but most of all, I need the sustained focus of keeping on a single story, a single subject, for a long period of time, in order to really develop these ideas.

1 comment:

zzi said...

You should take a class, not to learn to write. You seem to have that part down. It might force a novella out of you for a project the instructor will assign.