The New Novel

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Shh! It's a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood, and the Bartender's Guide
Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood, and the Bartender’s Guide

Yes, while I’m dealing with everything else in my life I’ve decided to start writing a new novel. It’s a time travel story and, I hope, a comedy, but as with my previous books — fiction and non-fiction — it seems to be going where it wants to go and my job is to keep up.

I’m about 14,000 words (or 40 plus pages) in but I know where the story is heading. It’s just that getting there is not as easy as it looks. My experience in writing is that I have a rough outline in my head that provides me the structure but as I look ahead I see nothing but fog. As I go along it seems to condense so that when I get to the end and look back I have a completed text. Until I reach a particular point, though, there’s no telling what’s going to happen.This week I was writing a scene involving a famous 19th century event and I realized I couldn’t just wing it. I’d actually have to do a bit of research. I needed to have my facts straight so I could provide some historical details. I might be planning a romp, but I couldn’t just fake it. To my surprise I discovered some information that I hadn’t known about before that ended up working right into my plot. Indeed the factual information made the story far more interesting that I had originally planned.

I don’t mean to compare myself to my friend Walter Hunt, a writer who does meticulous historical research (see, for example, A Song in Stone). I’m doing vaudeville. In at least some of his books he’s mixing historical reality with his science fiction. It was a reminder, though, that the first person to take a journey through a book and be surprised by its twists and turns is the author.

think I know where it’s going. If it works and gets published you may find yourself amazed at how the story turns out. You won’t be the first, though. I was there before you.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah, David, I’ve also had this happen to me. In fact, in my historic fiction time travel story “Will Little Note, nor Long Remember” (which I blush to say was reprinted here in Issue 1), I started out with a vague concept of someone going back to save Lincoln. I wrote some of it and then paused to start what I thought would be a little research and in fact turned out to be quite a lot. Before I was done I not only knew one hell of a lot more about the Lincoln assassination that I ever imagined, but the entire scope and characters and arc and resolution of my story got built up around what I’d learned. It’s also a fascinating and eerie process to watch at a remove while your new knowledge, and then your unconscious crunching of it all, takes over the writing for you.

    • Um, it’s Daniel. B)

      And as I’m doing a time travel story I have a chapter dealing with the Lincoln assassination that greatly changed as I did some research. Without giving too much away I was stunned when I learned that that the day after Lee’s surrender Lincoln gave a speech on the White House grounds in which Booth was in the crowd. When Lincoln endorsed allowing Louisiana back into the union with freed blacks allowed to be citizens and vote Booth told his companion, “That’s the last speech he’ll ever give.” I got the chills when I found that, and of course I used it.

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