So I’ve been thinking a little about a concept I’ve had in my head for a few years now. I’ve had this strange fixation on wanting to write a piece of fiction of indeterminate length, basically drawing together the narrative elements of the Police album, Synchronicity. It’s not a concept album in and of itself, and the stories told on that album, though very evocative and strong, story-wise, aren’t really related, so the challenge of essentially novelizing this album has been a considerable challenge to wrap my brain around.
For most of that time, I had been thinking it would be a strange bit of fanfic, which I would include in the eventual freebie collection I’m planning, featuring other fics, including The Marx Brothers and The Prisoner, amongst many others.
The thing is, I haven’t proceeded with that plan, at least as far as the Police album is concerned, because my gut kept telling me the idea was bigger and stronger than that.
Then the other day, it hit me: I’m planning to write a sequel to Terminal Monday, and yet I have almost no real concept or plan for it, save that it would be a sort of Scheherazade tale. So, what if I put the two notions together? Borrow concepts (not actual plots; I have no need to steal other writers’ plots) from Synchronicity and use them to structure the chapters.
This created the problem that, as PERPETUAL TUESDAY is intended as a sequel to TERMINAL MONDAY, it sort of needs to be a long piece. TM was 260,000 words, roughly. I couldn’t very well see PT coming in at anything less than 150,000-200,000 words, if I wanted to feel good about it.
So I decided I needed a bigger concept than even Synchronicity could afford me. Which lead me to my next leap of logic: Ghost In The Machine is also a very good album with lots of interesting stories, and it precedes Synchronicity. What if I made it the first act of a two act sequence?
I played with that idea for a day or two, and then this morning, decided I needed a three act tale to get the scope that TM had. And fortunately, The Police recorded five official albums, the third of which is also a pretty evocative piece of work, if not as story-centric as the latter two. And by some interesting piece of luck, the three albums each have eleven tracks (if you count the bonus track, Murder By Numbers, which was added to Synchronicity on cassette and CD). So, three acts (like Terminal Monday, only more formally so), eleven chapters per act, coming out to thirty-three chapters, which is almost as many as Terminal Monday had, so I’d say I’ve got the rough shape of a proper sequel. And because I’ve done it with a different format from TM, I don’t feel like I’m repeating the formula.
I’ve already prepared the Scrivener file, and started very roughly planning what each chapter will be about, without doing any actual plotting. I’m planning on letting the idea stew for a bit so I can wrap my brain around the size and shape of the plot and let the ideas come together without trying to nail everything down. That’s essentially how I worked with TM, but that novel had less structure when I started. This one will be just a shade more deliberate.
So now the plan is settled. In the meantime, I’m treating the three albums as a kind of soundtrack, though I’ll have to expand it significantly to keep from borrowing things I don’t need. I want it do be obvious enough what I did that no one will think I’m being coy about it, but to be inventive enough that, if anyone who cares about these things (like the members of The Police, say) reads the thing, they’ll see what I did but appreciate the work enough to approve it.
Which isn’t to say I’m seeking approval or validation. I’m pretty happy with the concept now. It’s personal enough that I don’t feel I’ve lost the point of what made TM special (I used numerous song references in TM as well), and yet impersonal enough that I can probably safely write it without fear of hurting people, the way TM worried me. I’m hoping that, just as TM was a fair representation of the state of my mind in 2007-2009, PT will be a fair summation of where I am here in 2013. I’m in a better place now, and I’m hoping to make PT do things that will affect my life in more positive ways.
There’s a well-worn idea in writing that, as you write books, they sort of write you as well; basically, if you write a story with bad things happening to your protagonists, bad things tend to happen to you, mirroring your fiction in some aspects. It’s probably just superstition, and I’m not sure that most professional authors by into it completely (not quite sure what I believe there; psychology is interesting stuff), but I know I didn’t make it up myself. So where TM was a dark novel with a lot of bad things happening to Richard, PT will strive to be a little less brutal to the poor guy, in the hope that the act of writing it will leave me in a better place than TM did. Who knows? Maybe people will even read it this time.
So that’s my bit. I have to finalize the cover, which has been mostly designed for months (I tend to do these things when the mood strikes), so I can include it in the eBook file and the Scrivener file. For those who have forgotten, it looks like this (so far):
And that’s it for show and tell today. Thank you for reading.