Monday, March 29, 2010

Progress Report: 3/29/2010

I've been doing my Penelope impersonation this week, unraveling my previous work and re-weaving it. According to the advice I've gotten about the matter, it seems that writing a novel in present tense will make it more difficult to sell. So I've had to go back to Thunderstruck and shift what I'd written so far to past tense.

The convention in current publishing is that present tense is all right for short stories, not so much for novels. And when you're not an established author, it's not a good idea to give any prospective agent/editor an easy reason to chuck your manuscript on the junk pile.

Really, it's not too bad. While the first chapter was ideal for present tense (which is why I went that way in the first place), the rest of what I've written wasn't really enhanced by it. Present tense, I believe, gives the story more immediacy and more tension. The downside is that it feels like it gets tiring to read after a while, which is not a good thing for a novel.

Speaking of Thunderstruck, one of the things I feel like I skimmed somewhat in the comic version was Sharon's (and to a lesser extent, Gail's) experience immediately after her miraculous healing, when she was trying to go the scientific route of understand what had happened to her. I am gnawing around with different ways to flesh that part out. It isn't a speculative stretch to say that her case would be written off as anecdotal, no matter how incredible it was. There are, and continue to be, spontaneous recoveries that happen all the time. On the whole, they're ignored. The generous version of why they are ignored is that it's impossible to reproduce these events in a clinical setting (much less a lab), so there's no point in studying them. The less generous version would say that it's because science deliberately does not want to look at certain things that could upset a reductionist worldview. I think it's a bit of both, myself.

Just finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It is not what you'd call a gentle book, and I couldn't put it down. Roger Ebert recently reviewed a film version out of Sweden which he thought was quite superb. I have mixed feelings about wanting to see the story in cinema. On one hand, there's some very nasty stuff in there that might be hard to take on the screen. On the other hand, it's a damned good story.

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