Friday, November 06, 2009

The Mechanics of Novel

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, judges and prestigist all, I bring to our attention, for discussion and analysis, the Novel. It isn't an elusive thing. We've all experienced the qualities that make a functioning novel. Even if our criteria difer we all experience in common that we have criteria with which we define a "good" novel. I think we would gain to debate the subject.

Question: What is the function of a novel?

A possible answer: To tell a nuanced and broad story which treats a subject, or group of subjects, that cannot be given full credence in a shorter work of fiction--e.g. a short story.

If this is a true statement about the function of a novel--I believe that it is, but I'm waiting for refutation--then it raises questions about formulation of a novel. This is a blog. We can't really talk about that in much depth. But it also raises questions on the subject of methods of preorganization. How is the projected journey of a protagonist in a novel different than the journey of a protagonist in a short story? Should as much thought be given to the character's "transformation" or should there by more emphasis in the outlining of the broader range of events? And what kind of approach should we have to deciding where to start? In a short story, we like starting in the middle of an action, but that's because we have less space to do things with so we make everything do more than one thing. In a novel, with more space, should we be as compressed with our powers of persuasion?

It's all quite confusing. I don't know how a novel functions, I've discovered. I hope we can help each other.

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