October 15, 2004

not the next but the one after

I'm pretty sure I know what book I'm going to write after I finish this novel. (Which is to say, the novel I haven't picked up in weeks, curse this no-floor time, no babysitter part-time kindergarten situation, but help is on the way Ė soon, even. Within a week, probably. But I digress.) This next one is loosely based on a script I wrote but never quite worked out, which in turn was based on a genre novel idea I never fully developed, so I've had it in my head for a while. I'm itching to get into it but scared, too. Aspects of it hit too close to home while other aspects are too unfamiliar and require more research than I'd prefer. (Preference: none. Rarely possible. Would get boring quickly if I only told stories about things I already knew. But I digress again.)

So yes, working to finish one novel. Thinking about the next one. So what's this third one floating around in my head? I won't get to it for a while. Years, maybe. But it came to me over a year ago, so it's had plenty of practice at waiting. It's very patient. When I first got this idea, I saw it as a script. I remember Toni laughing at me because I'd sworn up and down that I was not, no way, not ever going to write another script and yet here I was with a script idea. Well, I'm not writing it as a script. But it scares me as a novel. The main character is a cop in a small town. I donít know from small town life and I know less about what it's like to be a police officer. And yet. That's the idea. And it wants me to tell it. What can I do?

It presented itself as a mystery when it first appeared. I donít do mysteries either. Well, mostly not. My next one is only kind of a mystery and my current one is not even slightly a mystery. And yet. This is the idea and it compels me for all sorts of reasons. But a full fledged mystery with a cop protagonist? Can I hire someone to write this for me? (Um, no.) So I've been thinking about this one too. Worrying at it, wondering if I can pull this off, even a few years from now. Today I had a realization, though. And that realization is the reason I write tonight, though with the long preamble, you are no doubt already lost in the thicket of my convoluted brain processes. (I'm tired. Must sleep soon. Must turn off computer and go to bed. But I digress yet again.)

So. The realization. I started pondering what intrigued me about the idea. The center of it is this push-pull between the main character and another woman, the antagonist. They have a past together. I don't know quite what yet but confronting this person brings up all kinds of intense stuff for Ms. Main Character Cop Person. But if we don't know this other woman is the antagonist until the end (when we solve the mystery), what is the rest of the story? Hmm. Hey, what if we do know? What if she figures it out early on and the rest of the story can be a combination of cat-and-mouse flushing-bad-girl-out and painful/difficult flashback memories? Simple switch. Turns it from mystery into thriller, I guess, though not precisely. Psychological thriller, maybe, edging into drama. Or maybe the other way around, I wonít know until I write it. But this I think I can do. Especially the flashback parts. And who knows, maybe if she already knows who dunnit, she doesn't have to be a cop. Maybe she can be a lawyer or something. I can write a lawyer, I think. I've met more of them, anyway. And worked on legal TV shows. Or maybe she can be something else involved in that general world, a paralegal or a firearms expert or handwriting specialist orÖ oh, hell, maybe she'll just be a cop. But at least I can see it now. The shape of it. Don't know if I can pull it off. Don't know if I'll ever write it. But I can see it. And I like that. Now I can put it back into the file in the back of my overcrowded brain, the file labeled "save for later" and let go of it for a while, now that I've solved one puzzle.

Posted by Tamar at October 15, 2004 11:51 PM