The novel I couldn’t write

As I began piecing together the narrative that now runs through this site, I had pondered aspects of presenting the story as a large-scale novel. It’s an idea I long ago discarded.

Any structure itself would be problematic. Trying to span eight to 12 generations quickly sprawls out of focus. How many characters can you remember, much less follow, anyway? (In revising a new novel that covers just four generations of a family, I can assure you the task is daunting – and in fiction, I applied some tricks that greatly reduced the extent of an otherwise large family.) Well, I suppose it could become a series. Still!

Authentic dialogue is another challenge. Diction and vocabulary vary widely over time and place, and I doubt I could do even my Southern generations justice, much less the earlier Irish and Borderlands England generations. Besides, how could I create distinctive voices for so many sets of parents of parents of parents, much less any of the siblings?

Quite simply, I know I could never do them justice.


How about your own family? Is there any period that might shape a novel? Or are there books you’ve read, fiction or nonfiction, that already bring to life what you’ve uncovered?


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