The Organic Process of Novel Writing (a personal experience)

I have been making slow but steady progress on finding an entry point into the new novel. I had a false start last week but this start feels more solid to me and I think it has promise. Anyway, what I am saying is I think I can go on from here.

This is a tough novel. It it were another Haxan story it would be less difficult to write. I am trying to do something different. I might not be successful but I like the fact I am challenging myself. I think that, more than anything, is what drives me. Fortunately I have no deadline for finishing this book. I can pour all my creative energy and time into it. Well, what time is left over from other writing duties, of course.

I am planning a road trip along the US-Mexico border next spring. A majority of the book takes place there. I spent all morning yesterday plotting out the journey that the characters would take. I don’t plan to follow that exactly, but I want to drive to some points along the way. I always feel if you can do eyeball research it is helpful. It helps me but to be honest another good resource is YouTube.

One thing I can say for this book, it is hard to force myself not to hold back. We are conditioned by culture. I have to watch that because if I do that in this book then I am not being true to how the people were and how they acted in 1869. I would just be skirting the issue. I am not out to perpetuate Hollywood stereotype and cliches with this story. I guess you can view this novel as the anti-John Wayne, the anti-John Ford.

I think there will be elements of romanticism at least insofar as delineation of character, but not romanticism drawn from outdated ideas and popcorn stereotypes. I am making a conscious effort when a Hollywood cliche rears its head I go the other way. To borrow a phrase, I want to take western icons that have burrowed into the American culture behind a barn and kill them with a dull axe. And I want them to suffer.

Meh. Maybe I won’t be successful. But I feel the novel has to be written. I always go with my instinct on these things. It’s all a dangerous phase right now where I am bombarded by the creative energy and maelstrom of ideas and fragmented voices. The difficulty is pulling it all together and integrating it. I am hoping once I get that firm foundation beneath me I can move with more authority and confidence on the novel.

We will see.

But I do not mind admitting it is a stressful time right now. There are so many unknowns at play. Then again, I know from experience all new stories are like that for me. I hope my confidence will last!

I am not even kicking myself over the false start. Writing is organic it is not immutable. I’ve always believed that. The false start was a necessary step in the creative process. I can’t change that.

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5 Comments

  1. i think finding the right entry point is the hardest point for me.

    for example, i had midnight all finished and thought i was ready to shop it around. then one of my readers cropped up and said, “the story doesn’t start here, it starts here.” so i sat down and read it all through. again. 40 chapters, all of them 25-28 pages long (because back then i was that anal). i hacked off the first eight chapters (and there was a prologue, too – so nine chapters really). i saved them in an “original beginning” file for gods know why.

    then i printed out the manuscript, read through it again. then i rewrote the whole damned thing. twice.

    i sent it out to readers again. even my dad likes it. LOL now i’m just hoping someone will buy the damned thing because i’m sick of looking at it. LOL

    Reply
    • I know! For me starting a story is the hardest because everything has to click. It’s the only gateway a reader has into the story so it has to be pretty darn good.

      I get that way with stories sometimes, sick of looking at them, especially when I’ve had to work on them a long time. It’s like I’m ready to move on with my life, haha.

      Reply
      • unlike you, as we’ve discussed before, i write completely out of order. i write what’s in my head then stitch it all together later. this gives me plenty of time and room to shuffle stuff around.

        I’m ready to move on with my life

        exactly. i’ve lived with this family since 2002. i’m done now. LOL

        Reply
        • I am jealous of writers who can write out of sequence. It seems to be when you are able to do that you don’t hit stuck places as much because you can just hop forward or skip backward and work in another scene or part of the book. I’ve tried to do that, but my poor old brain is just too linear, I guess. 😦

          Reply

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