Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Let's just say that I give away the ending

"The War is long over, Mademoiselle Helga. We are no longer in Europe. Your hatred of me serves no purpose."

"So all is forgiven because we meet in Kansas rather than in Alsace and Lorraine? Nein. Ich bin Amerikanerin now, Fräulein. I am free to despise whomever I like. This is the glory of the constitutional democracy."

That's from Chapter Six of my soon-to-be-complete-in-draft-form novel The Hanging Man. Yesterday I began writing Chapter 11, the penultimate chapter. There's a huge dust storm and some other hijinks. Chapter 12 is all denouement, and will be pretty short, I think, which means that this first draft should be complete within the next two weeks, and I'll take a nice break from writing at that point.

I've been telling Mighty Reader that this one is a better mystery-as-mystery than The Transcendental Detective, and I also think it's a better novel-as-novel than that one. I also realize that my idea of structure for a detective novel has been influenced by the two Leonardo Sciascia books I read this year, which has had...erm, interesting results.

I'm not actually sure how to talk about what I've done with this novel, especially in the last third or so of the story. Spoilers, you know, for the handful of people I'll let read the second draft in a couple of months. Let's just say that I give away the ending far in advance and worked to give the reader reasons to keep reading past that point. Novelistic reasons, that is, as opposed to mystery-fiction reasons. I don't know how that'll all work out. I think it's a pretty good book, though. Full of irony and ambiguity. Likely traditional mystery fans will despise it. I'm not sure I care much about that, though.

Sometime this winter, I guess, I'll start work on revisions to Mona in the Desert. The plan at this point is to cut away about 30% of the draft and write gobs of new text. I still think this will be a shorter sort of novel, maybe 60,000 or so words. Unless I get a really good idea that requires a lot of room. So far, I have not had such a really good idea. I may find, once I begin carving away at the book, that there really isn't anything left, and I might abandon the project or turn it into a long short story. Hard to say.

When that's all done, whatever that ends up being, I just don't know. I just don't know. I am beginning to think about taking up a different hobby.

Update: (3 October) I have finished Chapter 11, which looked like it was going to be a lot of chatting in the dark, but then I found interesting things to do with the material so I'm happier with this chapter than I thought I'd be. It's quite a short chapter, for this book, but that's fine. I was writing along, as one does, when suddenly I found myself composing the concluding lines of the chapter, not quite aware how I had arrived at that point. Onward now to the final chapter, which takes place on a train. The first chapter of the novel takes place on the same train. This is a technique known as bookending, which is not to be confused with a framing device. It's entirely possible that I'll have this first draft finished by the end of the weekend. As usual, I am once more surprised to discover that I've apparently written an entire novel.


  1. Birding is a nice hobby.

    I was looking forward to the Transcendental Detective. Sniff.

    But hey, birds!

  2. I like birds, but I won't drive across the state to see one, so I'll have to think more about hobbies.

    Don't tell anyone, but I might have an uncorrected proof or two of TTD lying around the house. I am still trying to place that novel. We'll see.

  3. Christmas present....hint hint.

    I know birders who don't own cars. All things are possible in this best of all possible worlds.

  4. You're getting me a car for Christmas? That's awfully nice of you.

  5. Yay for Mona in the Desert. No matter if it is a long short story. I'd still like to read it. Someday.

    You know, I hear playing the violin is a lovely hobby.

  6. what about learning any classical dance form

  7. Last night Mighty Reader and I watched an old "Jeeves and Wooster" (with Fry and Laurie) and a couple of scenes took place in a tango club. I realized that I have sheet music (and have played) all the tangos featured in the show. Clearly a Sign that what I need to do is hector the Librarian to start that tango duo. Does tango count as "classical" dance?

  8. "Full of irony and ambiguity."

    Exactly why I love your stuff.

    I'm with Alex. I wanted a copy of TTD on my shelf, dang it. I must be patient, I suppose. I have a Lulu copy under a different title, although I'm not sure how much it's changed since then!

  9. Scott,
    I'm looking forward to reading your books! I'm excited that Hanging Man is almost done. Just in time for you to get away from it and clear your head. I've been shopping for new hobbies too. On my list are piano lessons, cello lessons, French lessons, and ceramics. Not that you should stop writing.

  10. *BIRDS*, people! I keep telling you, BIRDS are the thing.

    However, in case you insist on considering alternatives, here are the things I tried before I discovered the be-all and end-all that is *BIRDS*:

    -a plant identification class
    -a landscape architecture class
    -a year of German lessons
    -one harp-playing lesson
    -six weeks of Great Highland Bagpipe lessons
    -five months of yoga classes
    -a sumi painting class

    Be careful out there.

  11. After seeing a video of Harpo Marx playing "Take me out to the ball game" on the harp, I wanted to take lessons too. It would be cool to tell people I played the harp and to not be lying.

    Sumi painting is fun too.

    And, yes, BIRDS. :)

  12. I'm as big a fan of Jim McGuinn as anyone, but the Byrds (note proper spelling) haven't had an album out since 1973, right?

    I'm reading the Brothers Grimm's stories in German already. They wrote about 210 of them, so that should work as a stop-gap measure for a while. After that, we'll just see.

    I may just write short stories now. Have I already said that? Anyway, the Chekhov Project sounds interesting, today at least. Chekhov Meets Kafka, Chekhov Buys a New Hat, Chekhov Fails to Write a Novel, Chekhov and Tolstoy Argue About Goats Over Afternoon Tea, Chekhov Romances Olga Knipper, Chekhov Dies and Interrogates God, etc. That could be fun, and completely without literary and artistic merit.

  13. Would these Chekhov stories rhyme?

  14. I would like to see Chekhov as Written by Dr. Seuss, please.

    -Alex, Seattle Audubon Master Byrder

  15. Chekhov limericks!

    There once was a writer named Chekhov
    His tales, never made him a wreck of
    Tea and wine in great draughts
    Lubricated his thoughts
    And for kopecks a word, brilliance dashed off

    Okay, not great, but a man should never start at a high point, else he spends the rest of his life disappointed, what?