Today, whilst working on the outline for The Dummy — with seven chapters outlined, twenty single-spaced pages of notes, and still not quite at the end of the first part (of four) of the novel — it occurred to me that what I actually have here isn’t one novel, but probably two. And I’m not really sure how I feel about that.
On the one hand, the two novel option makes a great deal of sense. The way it’s going, I could quite easily see a single volume edition running to a thousand pages plus — real War and Peace territory. Whilst books of this length are by no means unheard of, it would naturally place it at something of a disadvantage. Financially, from my point of view and from a publisher’s point of view, two books are probably a better idea. Also, the the story could well work better with two very conclusive and well-defined phases. Book One would take Bobby (my central character — the dummy of the title) from birth to middle age, culminating in what I will for now only describe as an epiphany. Book Two would pick up the story, carrying Bobby through a developmental phase in his life and leading to, ultimately, the natural (but nevertheless quite dark, for many reasons!) end of his strange life. The break between the two books would mark a significant change in his character that two books would accentuate appropriately.
On the other hand, however, I have a fondness for large projects, both as a writer and a reader. I like the thought of living with this character for a long, unbroken period of time — and I also enjoy the prospect of sharing this intensity with the reader, without respite! I want it to be a life lived rather than a novel read, and so I’m not yet quite sure which way I want to go with it.
As a reader, which would you prefer?