The Making of a Novel: Part 15


Needed: 17,000 words. Entertaining. Doesn’t suck.

That’s where I’m at. Still shooting for 80,000 and I’m already in the finale. Gonna be close.

Endings are tricky. They have to work. The readers have invested a lot of time in the story and will not be happy if the writer bails out with some lame conclusion. All the seeds, so lovingly sowed from the beginning, must now bloom and bear fruit. No rotten apples. No bugs. No worms.

Details can kill the crop like a swarm of grasshoppers. Overlook an item here and an item there, and the flowering novel wilts in the sun.

Drive a man to drink.

Thank God for my friend, D.J., and her secret Bloody Mary mix.


The Making of a Novel: Part 14


Three thousand words later. Sometimes the words come out of nowhere. I was stuck, nothing in mind. No incidents. No new characters. Nothing for the good guys and bad guys to do but wait around for something to happen. But what?

I decided Billy Ray should call his girl friend, Rio, and try to sooth over their differences. But Rio wasn’t home. Where is she? Maybe she needed a change of scenery, a couple days off. How about a trip to, oh,…Colorado Springs. Only a four hour drive and loaded with nice restaurants and art gallery’s and shopping. There’s the Garden of the Gods and Pike’s Peak. Great place!

But not all that exciting. Hmm. What if she hits a storm on the way back, a bad one, not exactly a tornado, but wind and hail and narrow roads and faulty wipers on her car? A semi comes from the opposite direction like a bat of hell trying to outrun the hail, throwing out a blinding wall of wind and water that…

Yeah, that’ll work.

Watch this space.


The Making of a Novel: Part 13


Hit a new milestone today, 40,000 words. 40K is like a maximum for a novella. A novella is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. Got it? This story will likely end up somewhere short of  a full novel, often considered to be 80,000 words or more. So what is a 50k or 60k piece of work called? A little bastard?

Been at it almost every day. Don’t want to start getting cocky, but I think this one might be my best yet. I’m trying to hold down the backstories and keep the lulls at a minimum. I’m at an awkward place right now, nothing in mind but the ending and 40k words doesn’t quite cut it. Praying to the writer gods for inspiration.

The Making of a Novel: Part 12


Still at it. Currently at 37,201 words, but who’s counting? I’m in the middle of a major scene, but so far, it’s only slightly more exciting than reading a phone book. He did this, she did that. “Show, don’t tell,” is something you often hear in the writer’s community. Telling is passive and abstract. Showing is active and involved. Example:

He hit him on the jaw.

He reared back with a half turn, put his considerable weight behind it, and smashed his face hard enough to loosen molars.

I need a lot more of the latter in my scene. Back to work.


The Making of a Novel: Part ???


There are writers out there who set goals of a given number of written words per day. “I’ll be right there when I finish my two-thousand words.” Granted, that kind of goal will get you to the finish and on time, important if an editor has a reserved time slot just for you, but at what cost? Seems to me, if you push yourself to a predetermined number per day, the quality could suffer. Might work for some, not here.

Although I try to write every day, some day’s I do nothing more than think about the story. I try to follow the cat’s lead and find a warm, quiet spot to lay back and “rest” my eyes. How can I improve on that last scene? Should I introduce another character? How can I put a twist on the ending?

That time spent can’t be counted by Microsoft Word, but it is still productive and keeps my head in it.

BTW, Deputy Carmella Middleton is now in deep doo-doo.

Watch this space.

The Making of Novel: Part ??


Friday. Been at it all week, never missed a day. Thirty-three thousand words and counting.

Slow going this morning. My head is all over the place. Too many distractions, both real-time and anticipated.  It’s raining. The cat is asleep on the stereo, soaking up the warm. I envy her carefree lifestyle.

Got a major scene coming up. Trying to set the stage. Build it up with tension. Get the reader prepped. Get ready. Get ready. It’s coming.

Deputy Carmella Middleton makes a stop on the highway. Dark, lonely spot. You know it’s not going to go well for her don’t you?

The saga continues.

The Making of a Novel: Part 9


I took Labor Day off. Didn’t write a lick. Felt a little guilty about it. Decided to delete about a thousand words. It wasn’t working and contributed very little to the story.

The ending is still evolving. The basics are in my outline, but variations keep popping up. Driving me crazy. And that’s a short drive.

Writer’s Magazine, to which I subscribe, had some good suggestions for endings such as having the  protagonist suffer a loss. But who could I kill off? Not Billy Ray. Certainly not Carmella, the sheriff’s female deputy who has eyes for Lester. Rio? Billy Ray’s girl friend? No way. She’s too sweet and pretty. Harley the dog? Forget that.

Maybe he wrecks his truck. Be a big loss in my world. Needs thought.