How to write a novel in 2'49"
‘It took me so long to find out, but I found out.’
A big novel is deft and assured from the get-go.
A big novel has a strident motif; it’s bold enough to repeat it like a chorus or to repeat and remind it in a good line which speaks for the theme.
Think about Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse-5’ ‘So it goes.’
He wasn’t alone. In fact a novel with a slogan (and a number in the title ;-) is a big hit formula.
The Beatles had cracked a formula.
‘Daytripper’ cashed in those chips during a prolific few days in October search of a 1965 Christmas hit. It’s just 2 minutes 49 seconds of story-telling.
The composition of the song has the kind of recipe or confidence we can borrow, beg from and steal for novels.
There’s the underlying easy-going electric guitar riff that’s as certain and strong as a ‘voice’ from the opening. It’s plain-speaking but good-humoured. A great way to kick any story off.
The song progresses through the elements of the five fold structure I give you at the Kritikme Novel in 90 Plan which is based on Aristotles’s Poetics for ‘Tragedy.’ I double checked this structure against other major novels and in the course I show it’s virtue as the structure behind J.M Coetzee’s big novel ‘Disgrace’
A novel begins with a dilemma, drawn from the main character’s flaw, to which they’re possibly blind at the kick off. They run from it. (Per Nabokov’s prescription, in a novel you get your main character up a tree and throw rocks at him or her.) Per my prescription your hero or heroine goes from Flaw to False Hope to Flight to Fury to FACING IT. They run, run, run then they have to turn and FACE IT. There are only three ways to face anything. (Old Testament — with equal force, New Testament — turn the cheek, Crucifixion — self-sacrifice) in case you were wondering.
Listen to Daytripper and I think you can hear the five stages of a novel from not facing it, to facing it…with a nicely time crescendo for ‘Fury.’
Get some new dance moves from the video too… on the house. (You’re most welcome.)