Yesterday I said I'd tell you what's wrong with my work-in-progress novel, "Mummy's Boy".
Actually, there's nothing wrong with it - yet.
I had a wobble about it like all writers do, is all. Having thought more about it - and spent more time writing and re-reading what I've written - I think it's too early either way to come to any conclusions. I don't think it matters right now anyway. Really, what I need to do at this stage is plough on regardless and finish the damned thing. Then I can make a decision about whether it's a pile of junk or my latest masterpiece. And if it isn't very good I can then decide whether it's fixable or not. And if it isn't I can start the next one - an SF genre novel about a kid with an unhappy childhood on Mars who escapes to some distant planet populated by a race of beautiful and loving women or some such stuff.
What I am obliged to do at this stage, though, is guard against certain dangers that I see lurking around such as:
1 I don't want this to turn into some form of "misery memoir" like Angela's Ashes or something written by Dave Pelzer. I loathe these kind of "autobiographies".
2 I need to get the main character (based on me of course) to grow up more quickly. Everything is seen through the eyes of this main character and it's hard to show emotional depth and intellectual development through the eyes of someone so young (he's seven or so at the moment).
3 This isn't an autobiography so I need to invent more rather than simply relating half-remembered events from my childhood.
4 Got to get some laughs in there quickly.
5 Got to get some happiness in there too - if only to highlight the bad stuff. Contrasting colours. A roller coaster of emotions. Not all drab grey like my last book.
6 Got to develop the plot more - don't know how to do this yet. But I've got to find some way to hook the reader, fuck it, to grab the reader by the hair and drag him/her along. No more mister nice guy.
7 I know the theme of the book even if I can't express it yet. At its simplest it's all about the way your parents "fuck you up". You can do your damnedest but you can't escape their influence, even if they're dead. You may not even know they are the ones who've fucked you up. Even though you don't know it you're trapped, trussed up like a turkey by that invisible umbilical cord. You've been brainwashed and you'll be their clone even when you think you've struck out on your own in the opposite direction.
Oh, and I'll be arguing that all parents are bad for their children. And that parents are a heavy burden on their children, the monkeys on their backs. So it's a double whammy. Stuff like that.
The nuts and bolts of good writing can come with the re-writes. You know. Round out the characters. Sharpen up the dialogue. Insert some good description. Beef up the prose with some muscular verbs. Prune out the adverbs. Shorten. The. Sentences. Sprinkle on some magic poetic dust. Bake in the oven for six months and re-write. Send off to agent. Come to terms with the first rejection slip. Blog about it. Renounce all stupid literary aspirations. Train as a plumber. Find wealth and happiness. Fix leaky tap in bathroom.
Doesn't sound too bad, does it?