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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Friday, June 30, 2006

pit stop

Summer sunshine and heat. Unusually for me, I fell asleep after the alarm and didn't revive until about 6:13, after some vivid dreams. I hauled myself and got on with the day.

Yesterday I finished reading Writing the Blockbuster Novel by Albert Zuckerman. I appreciated the book, and feel that Zuckerman has valuable advice for me or for any novelist who wants to maximize the size of his audience. His tips are good in themselves, but in my case they have also provoked me to think about what I enjoy in a work of fiction: what makes something a good read for me?

I know my taste is not the mass taste, although I have nothing against the mass market, and am generally indifferent to works that are self-consciously "literary". Many of the things that supposedly make a work "commercial" are in fact things that I enjoy about a book. In particular, the emphasis I place on storytelling is itself a "commercial" approach, even though my aims are not specifically commercial.

I want to think through my approach, so that the second half of my draft makes use of the principles I want to bring to draft two. Hence, another long pause while I tinker with ideas and approaches. The image that just came to mind is of a high-performance automobile, up on blocks again with me under it, tinkering, adjusting. On race-day all this tinkering needs to have been done.

(Awhile ago I thought of this joke for a standup routine: "Every man needs two cars: a high-performance automobile, and one that runs.")

I moved on to my copywriting project, and soon Kimmie was home early from work for the long weekend (Canada Day). Tomorrow we're off to visit my father on Vancouver Island, and will return Sunday. Probably no blog-post until Monday at the soonest.

And now: more reading, more thinking. Tonight we'll have hotdogs for dinner, and Miss Vickie's potato chips--a treat.



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