I just finished reading Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street, which I picked up as a fluke at my new local library. (I went down that aisle in search of either the first book of the chronicles of Professor Dr Von Igelfeld or The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Alas, both were out.) The book uses multiple character narration told in the third person in very short snippet-like chapters that last roughly three pages each. The short chapters build on one another with multiple epidsodic mini-conflicts, as well as a subtle over-arching conflict about a painting and the building relationships of those who populate the address that is the novel's title. I rather enjoyed the way the characters sketched themselves on the page and how they fit together in the world of the narrative. It was quiet but stirring and highly entertaining to boot.
At the start of the book, its foreward explained the way in which the book is set up and its origins. You see, the book is born from the author's decision to write a serialized novel in a Scottish newspaper a la Charles Dickens. That's when it hits me: that's the gig I need.
I would make an excellent serialized novelist. I work well when on strict deadline, I edit as I type (though not as closely whist blogging, which I humbly apologize for but will probably not correct in future blog posts), and I'd rather fix a plot issue by adjusting as I go rather than go back and rewrite sections from earlier in a novel. What's more, I usually know the end of the book before I begin, which makes structuring, pacing, and planning a serial novel much easier. The problem here is not that I chose the wrong profession. No. The problem is I was born in the wrong century to really illustrate my greatest gifts as a writer.
What I need is a newspaper looking for a way to gain readership located in a city with a population interested in a novel structured as though it where a recurring strip in the funnies. This could be genius in the making, folks.
As I contemplate this new genre commitment, I have taken the liberty of taking the other five books in the series out of the library as well. I'm on Espresso Tales.