When you work on a novel, or any story, you always make constant decisions. I think this is normal in the creative process. At least that has been my experience.
One of the decisions I have come to about the new Haxan novel is I will not translate the Spanish dialog when it appears. I will, however, try to give context to what they are saying by showing action between the characters, and reaction. I suppose such a decision firmly puts this novel in the literary category. I’m not adverse to that but I have to be ready to accept whatever criticism it may engender.
I simply am not interested in writing the same-old kind of novel where everything is neatly laid out in perfect squares. Life isn’t like that so why should a story be that way as well? I have no intention of eschewing standard grammar and style choices for formatting the work. It’s not that kind of novel, either. But I have decided I will not translate the Spanish dialog that transpires between characters. It is that kind of novel.
I must admit this was not a difficult decision on my part. I was leaning toward it for quite some time now. In other stories I have always provided a translation if I used non-English dialog. I’m just not going to do it with this novel.
Does this decision make things even harder for me to write? Yes, it does. But the novel was difficult to begin with, given the subject matter and what I want it to accomplish, so moving the goal post a little farther doesn’t dissuade me one bit. This novel was always a challenge for me which is why I wanted to write it in the first place. So that’s what I’m going to do.
The second big decision I made was with the help of my Writing Buddy. I am planning a big trip along the Mexico-U.S. border in the spring because I need to research that area. I was wondering if I should hold off on writing the novel a little, take the trip, then finish the novel. My Writing Buddy said she thought I should go ahead and write as much of the novel as I can before I take the trip because I am in a groove now. To back away from that might be detrimental to the creative process. Also, researching the landscape and area isn’t going to change the basic story of the novel.
I mean, it doesn’t make or break the novel, it’s just an extra mile (literally many miles) I am willing to take for the sake of the story. That being the case, I agree with her. I will go ahead and keep writing the novel and when the trip comes along I can use or not use things I find and see in the story. But it would be foolish for me to put the novel aside now and wait for the trip before I go back to working on it.
I couldn’t see that for myself. Forest for the trees, and so forth. That’s why it is so helpful to have someone you trust and ask for guidance. The worst possible critic of a story is the writer himself. I firmly believe that. We are too close to the story. We do everything we can to see all available avenues and facets, but no matter what there is always something we miss. That’s why a fresh pair of eyes and a fresh perspective are so valuable.
2 Replies to “Two Big Decisions on the New Haxan Novel”
I would tend to agree with your WritingBuddy: keep plowing the field you are in! And I agree with you about refraining from translating the Spanish dialogue. The actions speak louder than words, anyway, right? Glad you are making good progress. Best wishes!
Yeah. Sometimes you have to do what’s right for the story.