Day 16 – The Unbearable Lightness of Bee-ing

100% convinced now to do this as a “non-fiction” book, kickin’ it old school with the New Journalism. But in reverse.

I’ll explain.

You may have heard me talk about “The New Journalism” — an idea that Duncan Weller floated my way during a conversation. It happened when I casually mentioned that I was thinking of creating a whole new approach to the novel, and he casually mentioned that it had already been done. But of course.

To be fair, there are some pretty major differences. The New Journalism was a loose set of stylistic rules whereby instead of sticking to the journalistic ideal of objective reporting, the reporter injected some subjective elements into the news story. These could be as small as descriptions of what the subject was wearing, what the room looked like, etc. to the writer actually becoming part of the story. (Think Hunter S. Thompson — his coverage of a 500 mile race turned into a story about his three-day binge of fear and loathing in — yes — Las Vegas. Heady stuff.)

The point though is that it brought “just the facts, ma’am” journalism into the arena of the novel, taking techniques used in fiction writing to enhance the storytelling. However — and this is a very important point — journalistic integrity was still upheld. In other words, every word of a story still had to be true. There wasn’t even “artistic license” allowed (Truman Capote might be an exception, if you believe the rumours about his books), and I think that the journalists who used this style likely held themselves up to an even higher standard simply because they were an easy target.

Any-the-who, when I started this project, I was thinking of writing the novel as if it were non-fiction (I believe I mentioned this already). I read a bit about The New Journalism last night, and I am fascinated by (a) how much it is like my newspaper writing style already (okay, I’m not saying I’m Tom Wolfe, but it’s a revelation that my style actually “fits” somewhere) and (b) how I’ve never heard of The New Journalism before. I feel like the bee at the end of that Blind Melon video, pushing open the gates and seeing other bees for the first time, frolicking in the meadow…

So I’m convinced that this is the right approach. It actually adds a couple of new layers to the story, and gives me a bit more leeway in some ways (though not as much in others).

And, I’m happy to report, after deciding to go with the New Journalism style, the voice I’ve been looking for started to get a bit stronger tonight too. More heady stuff. The stuff I put down is maybe a little too esoteric yet, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s easier to rein it back a bit once it’s on paper than to try to push it to that certain je ne sais quoi place.

Yes, things are going well. (Famous last words, anyone?)

If you want to learn more about The New Journalism, Tom Wolfe wrote a short 10,000 word article about it called The Birth of ‘The New Journalism’; Eyewitness Report. Haven’t finished reading it yet, but it’s interesting so far.

Big day tomorrow — I have some character assassinating to do. (I guess that would be character character assassinating — nobody physically dies but the protagonist chokes…)

~Graham

(Novel Writing Totals)

Hours Today: 1
Words Today: 1,470
Hours Total: 16
Words Total: 23,287

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