Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Finally: New Fiction!!!

I've said here before that after I finished my novel Exmormon, I switched to blogging and haven't written any new fiction since. Well that was true right up until the past few weeks: This past weekend I finished writing my second novel!!!

(Actually third, if you count The Land Far-and-a-Half Away, which I don't...)

This new one is actually shorter than the novella about Saturday's Warrior that I'm currently serializing, but I'm calling it a novel instead of novella because it's a stand-alone work instead of being part of a series. It's just a really short novel (nine chapters, a little over 15,000 words).

To give credit where credit is due, this new piece was partially inspired by a clever article on writing a novel by Robinson Wells. (He probably wasn't hoping to support the exmo arts, but these things happen when you post stuff to the Internet... ;^) )

The whole article is kind of funny-because-it's-so-true, but the specific part that helped me is the following:

A boring setting is perfectly acceptable in novel writing. While the word “boring” might be considered pejorative, there are certain books that actually require boring settings. I’m speaking specifically of literary novels. These are books wherein kids die of wasting diseases, and they’re books that win national awards.

The absence of anything interesting in the setting is done purposefully; the general atmosphere of these books screams of despondence and depression, and such things simply can’t exist in an interesting setting. Imagine Summer of the Swans taking place in Narnia, or Angela’s Ashes including a chase scene on top of Mt. Rushmore. If something like that happened, readers might actually want to read these books, and then where would we be?

I read that and thought: "He's right, you know. I need to stop writing stories set in Utah. I should write a story set in an exotic foreign country..."

But you writers out there probably already know the problem with setting a story in an exotic foreign country: Lots of boring research. Then you still get the details wrong.

So I decided to go with inventing an exotic foreign country. That way if it's convenient for the story that my new country have some peculiar custom like wearing pancakes on their heads or somthing, it's not "wrong" it's just "making your invented country a little more colorful." (p.s. I didn't use the pancake idea myself, so feel free to steal it for your own novel.)

So in a nutshell, my new novel has all of the character-driven relationship intrigues of any segment of Exmormon, but minus the angst-filled contemplation of religion, and for the underlying situation I've dumped the boring reality and replaced it with amusing fantasy. Oh and I did throw in a few Mormons because -- let's face it -- Mormons are funny.

I'm thinking of trying to find an agent for this one, but since that is an annoying, painful, and time-consuming task, I'm putting it off for now. I might start by looking for test-readers, we'll see...


Sister Mary Lisa said...

Did someone say test readers??

C. L. Hanson said...

Email me if you're interested... ;^)

DPC said...

Congratulations on finishing your novel. Never having the discipline to finish a novel myself, I'm always in awe of those who can!

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks DPC!!! :D

C. L. Hanson said...

Okay, I've thought of a title for it: Our Song Live from the Other Side of the World.

I've found a few test readers, but I'd like to get some more to see reactions from a varied audience. It's painless -- you don't have to write a detailed critique -- just read it and tell what you think of it overall. :D

If you're interested in helping by test-reading this novel/novella, just email me at the usual address: chanson dot exmormon at gmail dot com.

Stephen said...

I was hoping to find a sample chapter somewhere.

I'd be willing to test read and provide comments.

I'm at ethesis@aol.com

Michael Carr - Veritas Literary said...

Congratulations. I know all too well how much effort it takes to finish something of this length.

I know this is totally unsolicited advice, but you're serious enough about this that I think you might consider a more focused strategy for the business side of the writing. That is, how do you decide what to write and what do you do with it when it's done?

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Stephen -- its in the mail!!! :D

Hey KingM!!!

I'd love to take a more focused strategy, but I'm not really sure what to do.

how do you decide what to write?

It was the first idea for new fiction I'd had in a few years. So I wrote it down.

what do you do with it when it's done?

No clue. As far as I can tell, the publishing business is vast and mysterious, and they don't go around looking for new authors because they've got plenty of writers banging on their door trying to get attention.

I guess I'm a little hesitant to go there because it's no fun being on the losing end of a supply-and-demand mismatch problem. So I figured I might as well just post about it on my blog -- I've been getting 5000 hits a week for a while, and maybe one of those people will suggest something.

Have you got any hints or advice? Your agent's phone number perhaps? ;^)

Ali said...

I would love to be a test reader!

C. L. Hanson said...

Fabulous, thanks!!!

Just email me chanson dot exmormon at gmail dot com, and I'll send it to you. :D