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Novels not written

Every so often I find myself playing with ideas for novels I know I’m never going to write. For years I toyed with the idea of an Arthurian novel in which Mordred was the hero. More recently I’ve found myself wondering about an epic fantasy which has the tag line: “The war between Good and Evil is over. Evil won … and nothing has changed!”

Good heavens, there might actually be audiences for such novels, but they probably wouldn’t include me.

So which novels are you never going to write?

16 thoughts on “Novels not written

  1. As Kurt Vonnegut taught us (perhaps himself having learned the trick from Borges), those unwritten novels can make for great novels-within-novels. One saves so much time that way.

    (Perhaps this can be one of the “tricks that always wor”k? I’m still trying to assemble that list, and even with this one I have only four so far. Eighteen to go!)

    Related to all of this: Gilbert Sorrentino said somewhere that he never threw away anything he wrote, no matter how bad it was; rather, he’d assign that bad work to his characters, claiming they’d written it. (“So-and-so was a a terrible poet. Here’s one of his poems: … See? I told you that he was a terrible poet.”)

    (That seems more a special case of this trick than its own trick.)

  2. “The war between Good and Evil is over. Evil won … and nothing has changed!”

    See, this would be perfect for a novel-within-a-novel. The book (as it is now) is basically just that one joke; the problem is who would want to write a whole book just to get at that one joke? But it’s easy to throw it into one paragraph:

    Hand-in-hand, Jenny and Patrick passed a row of shelves laden with Wally Freedman’s latest opus, the 1200-page fantasy novel Manichean Mannequins. Each Phil Foglio-painted cover bore the tag line: “Evil has won its eternal battle against good…and nothing has changed!”

    The volumes had been, Jenny couldn’t help but observe, heavily discounted.

    1. To continue: And Jenny said, “Oh Patrick, I forgoteth my Bank of Susquehanna card. How shall I pay for this?”

      Patrick pulled his upper lip over his bottom lip in a not so stealth move – he had to use his fingers and actually had to ask his beloved Jenny for assistance- kind, loving, doting, spousal assistance – the kind that Zeus employed when he knew he would be seeing the wood-nymph Miriam in the blueberry grotto.

  3. ““The war between Good and Evil is over. Evil won … and nothing has changed!””

    This feels very Joss Whedon to me. I think this was his concept for the sixth season of Angel had they had one.

  4. I keep claiming that at some point I’m going to write a really hackneyed sf novel, or a really hackneyed romance novel, or maybe both at the same time.

    1. I have one! I wrote it in sixth grade! It is a Star Trek novel! It’s my own crew I made up! It is both hackneyed romance and hackneyed sci-fi! It is called “The Hidden Pasts!”

      1. Tim, I’d really, really, really, really, really, really, really love to read this.

        I’ve always wanted to write a Star Trek novel.

        At some point, I plan to dedicate the rest of my life to writing nothing but science-fiction.

        Present-day science fiction.

        1. AD: Gibson seems to be doing this right now. Or rather, it seems as if the real world finally caught up with his sf from the 80s. So actually he’s writing about all the same stuff, it just happens to be in the present, now.

          Tim: In sixth grade I wrote a really hackneyed detective novel. The characters were all anthropomorphic sports equipment (baseball, baseball bat, soccer ball, etc) for some reason.

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