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Thursday, January 5, 2017

LET ORSON SCOTT CARD TEACH YOU HOW ...





... NOT to begin your novel.

Sigh.

I listened to the first 15 minutes of this book on one of my blood runs this wet weekend. 

The unidentified narrator spent the whole time telling, re-telling, and rationalizing

why he could not tell the story.

By the end of that agonizing time, I heartily agreed that neither he nor Mr. Card could tell the story.

I switched off the audiobook and reflected

on why such a talented writer as Orson Scott Card could go so far off the mark.

As a fledging writer, I suddenly thought of one possible explanation

since I have fallen victim to the problem myself.

HE COULD NOT GET BACK INTO THE FLOW OF THE STORY
HAVING LEFT IT FOR SO LONG

So he pumped out word after word in a desperate attempt to tap into the fires of his tale once more.


I think we all have been there. 

But once we grasp the lightning once more, we edit those stumbling chapters out of the novel.


In fact, I have adapted that flailing into a way to add depth to my long-lived hero, Samuel McCord.


I write the first beginning chapters of my newer novels as earlier episodes of his long life,

taking enemies and friends made in those exploits

and weaving them into the tapestry of the latter chapters taking place years later.

You get a sense of time passing, of lessons learned, of mistakes haunting the better man he became.


Which leads to another chaffing thing to JOURNEYMAN ...

Alvin and his love, Peggy, are too old to continuously make the same mistakes made in their teens. 

They seem forced to act in ways, contrary to people in their late twenties,

just to advance the story where Mr. Card wishes it to go.

This series is supposed to be the Saga of Alvin Maker ...

and yet halfway through the novel,

(I was driving 15 hours straight Sunday so I kept on listening)

Alvin is in perhaps 10% of this novel so far.


I am in no way close to Mr. Card's caliber of writing ...

not even in the same galaxy even ...

So I am not holding my own novels in comparison to his.

Yet, reading ALVIN JOURNEYMAN is like going to the Louvre

and see da Vinci had given the Mona Lisa a pig's snout.

The first three novels are excellent though so read them ...

and you may well find yourself of a different opinion than mine about this novel.

Here's hoping Orson Scott Card does not know my address!


5 comments:

  1. Sorry it let you down. Sometimes really big writers are forced to keep writing long after ideas are dried up, and mediocre books with no heart are the result.

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    Replies
    1. I've since learned that Mr. Card has done this with his Ender series and another series of his. Sad to see it. :-(

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  2. I'm not a fan of Card's Alvin series. He veered from his scifi excellence (IMO) in these stories. Perhaps he was encouraged by his publisher. Sometimes, an author should stick to what he does best. . .and I'm a fan of Card's science fiction novels.

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    Replies
    1. The Alvin saga was born in his epic poem he wrote early in his career. He realized the Epic Poem went out with Spencer's Faerie Queen -- so fantasy was his first love.

      The dark turn to Alvin's tales makes me reluctant to try his Ender series.

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    ReplyDelete