Music Is The Heart Of This #Novel #AmWriting #WritingLife

You know it.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelt Garner

I have no idea what I’m doing. And, in a sense, I think what’s happening is my natural inclination to write a screenplay is pretty much completely taking over development of a novel. So, in a sense, I’m obsessing over an aspect of the novel that in real terms won’t really make much sense until it’s somehow miraculously made into a movie.

The “heart” of this novel is my extensive knowledge of pop rock music published in the last 60 odd years. Or, to put it another way, pop rock music is to me what pop culture reference are to Ernest Cline. The vision I have for this novel, however, is so different than Ready Player One that the only reason why this analogy might be made is for marketing purposes. Other than that, the two books share nothing in creative purpose.

One thing that’s really helping me ground my characters is I’m really nailing down what type of music they listen to and the exceptions. I have a lot of real-life experience in this kind of stuff and I can make some of the more unexpected situations I need to have happen believable because of that. I have to keep an eye on the plot. I can’t get too bogged down in being a pop rock show-off. But the whole structure of the novel is built from the ground up as to make music an existential feature of the story.

The surreal thing is my development is reaching Gillian Flynn levels of thinking things through, and, yet, my native writing ability simply isn’t as good as hers. The whole process is being slowed down considerably, and, yet given that I am, in fact, pushing myself to my personal creative limits the end product has to be, at least, not embarrassing? Right? Right?

But I have to stay focused on tone, theme and mood. I can’t let my natural inclination to write an updated version of The World According To Garp take over. This needs to be a dark, fast, accessible ride with the occasional moments of levity. I’m trying to force myself to study John Connolly, Gillian Flynn and a few other writers who manage to do that in a pop-art fashion.

I hope that first thing New Year’s Day, I can get back into developing the rest of the novel at the scene level. Once I wrap that up — hopefully no later than my birthday in late February, then I will plunge back into writing the first-but-really-second-draft again.

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