Times are desperate.
I’m not talking about politics, your bank account or my backyard, even.
I’m talking about something else I care desperately about: good stories. Specifically, made-up ones told through words.
But I’m worried. I’m not happy with what I’m finding. Every novel I come across seems to require GPS and an invite-only fan forum to decode, or is a whiny diary entry set in New York or L.A. Maybe the novel really is officially dead.
Here’s my question: Where is the stuff that is pushing the form further than it’s been before? Where are the stories that show how we’re living NOW?
Theoretically, this should be easy. Millions of people are reading more than ever.
Text messages. Status updates. Powerpoint decks, even.
Those places are ripe for experimentation.
However, we’re reaching a stagnation point. Those forms will soon be calcified, too and no longer have the same possibility. We may already be there.
But, I don’t think every novel has to be told like a text message or Gchat. I just think it has to talk about those things and reflect that culture. That’s what is desperately missing.
Is A Shift Possible?
A complete shift is difficult to do at one time. Standard prose to a completely new (and dare I say experimental?) form in one fell swoop? Impossible.
It has to be a progression. But the more authors and writers that push it along, the more quickly it will be come accepted. That’s why I hope you’ll help.
Books like House of Leaves and Only Revolutions by Mark Danielewski; Night Film by Marisha Pessl; and A Visit from The Good Squad by Jennifer Egan have experimental formatting that’s made some mainstream inroads.
Other lesser known works like Selected Blog Posts from A Panda Express Employee by Megan Boyle are written with the Internet in mind, forming phrases, thoughts and stories much in the same way they’re told online to one another. It embraces the contemporary connected culture along with the way more people are reading, even though the format is somewhat conventional.
The good news? There’s still room for more. There’s still room for you to play around and try something new. Literature needs you. We don’t need another Game of Thrones knock-off; we need relevant stories for the masses told in a way that breaks novels from what they “could” and “should” be.
Will you save the novel? I hope so.