I finished the first draft of my first novel, which I'm really fucking glad to put away for a while so I can work on something different. I lost a lot of steam there near the end.
I'm not really big on outlining; to me, it always feels like I'm trying to revise before I've even written anything. George Saunders has a really good analogy where he compares outlining to bringing notecards on a first date. 12:45: Ask her about her parents. 1:00: Kiss her goodbye. It just feels really disingenuous when you could just let the whole thing happen naturally and re-evaluate it later in the editing process.
Tangential opinions of the writing process aside, for the new idea I have, there might be a pretty lengthy senquence that takes place in the 1960's. As someone who wasn't even born in the twentieth century, this could prove to be a problem, stylistically speaking.
I love the classic Steve Ditko/ Stan Lee Spider-Man comics, and I also like older movies that they show on TCM (Audrey Hepburn and Ann-Margret are the sexiest people who have ever lived, as far as I'm concerned), so I feel like I have a pretty good grip on the slang from that era, especially with teenagers.
i.e. saying something's "the most" to mean "the best"
i.e. saying "That's a gas" when you've enjoyed yourself
i.e casual racism and homophobia
But a more cynical side of me wants to just write them as people, not cartoon characters saying "gee whiz" and "that's swell" every other sentence like the reader's trapped in Pleasantville. I read a book called "The Girls" by Emma Cline this summer, which is about a woman who got sucked into a Manson-esque cult when she was a teenager. While the most of the novel takes place in the 1960's, every few chapters it'll flash forward to present day, the middle-aged protagonist still having nightmares about her past. I think it's a really good read, Cline has an excellent voice, but my only problem with it is that it isn't very authentic. While the novel doesn't really claim to be a period piece, I never feel like I'm in the sixties when I'm reading it. The characters will reference political and social events on occasion, but other than that, they all sound liike modern teenagers.
I guess what I'm wondering is, how can you write a convincing period piece without falling into the hole of obnoxious over-exposure? Did kids really go to soda fountains every day after school? Did people really talk like Don Knotts? How would someone write something like that without laughing at the absolute goofiness of it all?