Archive for novel

Home Stretch: Birth of a New Ending

Posted in Creativity and Chaos, Working magic with tags , , on April 7, 2023 by coyotescribe

Poised at the keyboard after writing for years, I was buried under an avalanche hill. It toppled from some great height of which I had quite underestimated. Out of the fray—a few days later—a new character showed up and saved the day: a U.S. postal carrier. On his way to his last stop—a curbside collection box—he pulled up beside my hill in a DJ-5 mail jeep and loaned me a shovel. With it, I wrote a rip-roaring two pages to begin my novel’s epilogue. And then?—I was really in trouble.

How do you decorate the armature of a story? That is the question. And how intently do you listen for where it wants to go?

An immeasurable amount of time back, before I wrote the last three ‘numbered’ chapters, a revelation flooded my brain. It was a new ending that wasn’t there before. Not in my outline. Not even close to my outline. You know, like, a bridge too far?  The idea took me through an agonizing week and a half before my resolute rejection of it. Still, something was right about how it stirred the fiery cauldron. I needed to seriously consider it, as a way to break free from my matter-of course.

I was nudged into a monolithic overreach that I call my Sixth Sense moment. Had I incorporated the physical actuality of it, I would’ve blown up the whole story. However, it was surprisingly helpful as it knocked me forty-five degrees off course—into the black hole of my imagination.

Throughout the labyrinthine detours, over-embellishments, about-faces, pot holes, and cracked fillings, I discovered something more than just the ending. I can’t really explain it—don’t even think it could ever happen again. I climbed the mountain and reached the momentous afterglow of completing my last chapter—sixty-three. And then?—that avalanche I mentioned earlier: the epilogue. It started with my erroneous assumptions about what would fill the early pages. I gave it a shot, and realized I was—once again—trying to control the narrative.

It is impossible to control the narrative! No part of this story has ever reacted favorably to my pigeon-holing—especially for convenience’s sake. Thus, why my research is extensive, and why I wrote my previous blog post on finding The Final Last Word.

In June of 2022, I scribbled this on an envelope:

Questions loom. Will I be able to pay off the debt I racked up in fifty-nine chapters totaling 540 pages? Am I up to the task?

Well, it took four more chapters and eight more months before I’d even reach the epilogue. And now—well—here I am, ten pages in—at 604.

Based on my track record for blog frequency, this will surely be my last blog post before finishing the novel, the last chronicling of my progress in real time, and a get-well card to my future readers who were willing to track a 600-page novel.

There’ll be no more trudging back to reconstitute soaring revelations or frequent dives for cover. This is it. No rectifying, no making up for all the ghost posts that never reached quintessential windups. It is what it is. I deleted 2200 words of blogwash and gave myself a break. THE END—in real time.

My Characters

Posted in Creativity and Chaos with tags , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2021 by coyotescribe

I enter their world every day, and come back with new revelations. Sometimes those revelations tell me to stop, to breathe, and to let in what just happened in the writing. So, I take a break. And eat. Which means I have to wash the dishes first. Unless I make a smoothie. Then I’m good for a while. Today, instead of eating or washing dishes, I took my exhalation to a blog post. Hello.

My novel is coming along—currently in the thick of chapter forty-five. I continually edit earlier chapters, too, via bi-monthly writers critique group zoom meetings. This week was chapter thirty-four. I am reasonably polished, with one-hundred-ten-thousand words and counting.

I’m not saying I’m Diana Gabaldon, but after reading all the books of her Outlander series, I do understand why her shortest was a mere 743 pages. I’m only at 400, and I figure I’ll be done before I reach 500. I’m close to the end… almost sure of it.

My story travels through time, weaves in and out of realities, and is a mix of fantasy and 20th Century historical—1978 being the main thread. The lion’s share of backstory takes place in 1949, 1960, 1962 and 1968. So, yeah. Talk about research. I’m doing mine all the while. But the fantasy part is all in my imagination, which is wild and vivid, and full of grace.

This is my first novel, so maybe with my word count I haven’t given myself a fighting chance to be published. But it is what it is, and I can’t stop now. I have mulled over pages and pages, all over the damn pages, a perennial nature of chapter tweaking. I leave no stone unturned. As far as I can tell, there’s not much more I can cut—unfortunately or not.

With my main character—and his love opponent, plus two additional characters living a Montana otherworld orchestrating their reunion—divergent paths all lead to Totality, including all their backstories, which sometimes overlap and sometimes don’t. It’s a 10,000-piece puzzle. And there are only a few pieces left to insert—landscape and sky pieces, heretofore undetectable shadowy pieces, and the crowning-glory pieces.

I have always known where the story ends, but the long and winding road that gets me there has been the most incredible journey, traversing timelines and worlds, people and history, some of it earthbound, some of it out of this world.

And I’m in there every day just waiting for the miracles, not because I’m desperate, but because I know they’re somewhere down that inward highway. And I’m going to find them—inside my characters.