(Howdy folks! We took Easter Sunday off. We didn’t think you’d miss us too much.)
I didn’t see this coming. I mean, I really did not see this coming, but I’m about to start planning, and then hopefully writing, my first epistolary novel. I finished drafting the fanfic I was working on, and while I’m eager to start revising it, and with J’s help it’s almost completely typed, I should probably take a short break from it. That means I have time to start planning my next project. Which is an epistolary novel. Who could have seen this coming?
Well, I didn’t at any rate. But since I know you are all curious how I came to this conclusion, I thought I’d take a few minutes to explain. I don’t know that the decision-making process is terribly fascinating, but I think it will be interesting for me as a writer that I’ve chosen to do this.
Two different ideas merged to give rise to the epistolary novel idea. The first came from a chat I was having with a delightful friend on Tumblr. As is typical for the two of us, we were chatting about the TV show Versailles. She made an observation about how the story could have been different if two characters who spend the first season at odds had instead decided to team up. Now, this sort of talk usually leads to me saying #iwouldreadthatfanfic or writing that fanfic myself. However, in this case, I didn’t know if I wanted to literally explore these two characters working together, but the idea was brilliant. I told my friend I might steal the concept for an original novel, and she said great. I told J about it later, and we both agreed it could even fit nicely into the Myrcia ‘verse. Then I didn’t think about it again, because I had a fanfic to finish.
And then I finished the fanfic. Worse still, I started typing it. Every word I typed felt clunky and forced and stale. I told myself I was just in one of my periodic bad moods, that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought, but something wouldn’t let me rest. So I thought more about the problem until I came to the conclusion that I’m kind of sick of my own writing. If I were a reader, I’d take a break from me and go read someone else for a while. It’s not that anything I’ve been writing is bad, it’s just overly familiar. When I mentioned this suspicion to J, I also mentioned that the two parts of my current fic I like best are the short sections written in omniscient POV instead of limited third person.
J said, “You should write an epistolary novel. The new idea you just told me about would be perfect.”
My skin cleared, angels sang, and the weight of the world lifted from my back. Almost a full week later, and I still think this is a positively brilliant idea to get me out of my rut. If not tonight, then in the very near future, I’m going to start doing character profiles and outlining. We’ve come up with a general time and place in the world we’ve created to set the story, and then it will just be a matter of writing it. Neither of us has written an epistolary novel before, so this will be fun (and hopefully not horribly frustrating) new territory. I know who my two central characters will be, and I think one of them will be either the writer or recipient of every letter to keep the focus where I want it. In the meantime, I’m thumbing through my ancient copy of Dangerous Liaisons and listening to the audiobook of Lady Susan.