Friday, November 15, 2013

Scenes: the building blocks of a novel

Last year I bought a Nick Drake album called "Family Tree", which is described as an album of "home recordings". Essentially, it's Drake playing guitar and singing in his room, while taping the result. It's not high quality but it's Nick Drake. Since his death in the 70s, his popularity has grown and there's a real hunger to hear this man's voice and music.

As I listened to the songs, I was struck by a parallel: songs are to a singer, as a scene is to a fiction writer. Each is a discrete, distinct entity, part of a whole (the album, the book) yet capable of standing on its own. A scene, I thought, is a writer's song. This had never occurred to me before and it seemed profound.

Now, as I find myself outlining the initial scenes for my new novel, "The Worlds", I'm reminded of that perception. I can push it further: the initial scenes of a book are like the choice of songs to lead off an album. They set the tone, establish the style and (hopefully) wake the reader up. They say "stay tuned, more like this (or better) ahead".

I'm finally happy with the progression of initial scenes for the book. I haven't written them all yet; I've done some and have headers that represent the others. The logical order is established. Now I have to make music with this.