Update on the New Novel

The novel I started about a recent widower starting a road trip along the Lincoln Highway has come to a slow down.  I’ve been reading Phillip Roth’s “The Human Stain” and I am unavoidably writing long elaborate paragraphs that are not typical of the usual style I use when writing mystery and suspense fiction.

I’m not assuming that this style is inappropriate for the subject matter but it does put me in an awkward position.  I have traditionally had several irons in the fire, so to speak, so as to keep everything fresh and to not allow stagnation.  But since I’ve been editing/rewriting two crime pieces AND starting something stylistically different, I feel a definitive yo-yo effect.

So, I’m writing the new piece in a different manner.  Rather than write a draft, rest, review, rewrite, I’m editing as I go in order to incorporate the first and second draft at the same time.  I basically reread what I’ve written and then edit or correct before continuing with anything new.  It is a completely different methodology for me and certainly more time consuming.  Perhaps it is what I need to clear myself from the criminal mindset.



  1. jenniferneri said,

    July 21, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    I have never done this type of writing/editing. How do you find it?
    Do you work with an outline, then?


  2. tikiman1962 said,

    July 21, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    I always work from an outline, names, ages, approximate backgrounds, etc. This new novel required research on: The Lincoln Highway; the cities along the way; the significant events, icons, or places of interest at each. The theme is that at each stop it is representative of an aspect of the character’s life. I.E. Stopping at the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio brings back memories of raising a son and the trials and tribulations, etc.

    But the new methodology that I am using in writing it lends itself toward a more tedious approach and more uncertainty. Usually for me a good crime story flows, like a locomotive out of control. And that word, ‘control’, is the key. This is the story of a late-50’s man, recently widowed, reflecting on his entire life. The pace should be more labored. The writing style should match.

    We’ll see. Barely 4000 words in and I’m having doubts and second-guessing myself in a way that I don’t normally do until the third or fourth draft.


  3. jenniferneri said,

    July 22, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Yet, you sound certain of your steps…

    I have never written with an outline – I can’t as I have no idea where I am going.

    Good luck with it!


  4. tikiman1962 said,

    July 22, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    The “certainty” is an illusion created by words. We are, after all, writers.

    And though you say you have no idea where you are going, it is as Real Life, I’m sure: there is a destination in mind although the route may vary based on the circumstances.

    From the entries in your blog (yes, I DO read but not always comment) you generate an assurance that belies this recent commentary.

    Keep plugging away. You and i both know it’s worth it.


  5. jenniferneri said,

    July 24, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Thank you for the sentiment, tikiman. it is worth it, and anyhow, I don’t think either of us have a choice in the matter 🙂


  6. tikiman1962 said,

    August 6, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Now, I am at The Wall. I am, by nature, a mystery/suspense/thriller writer. There has to be death somewhere. Well, in a story of a late 50-s widower there IS death, but not the kind I’m used to. (I’m not sure how that sounds.)

    I’ve outlined the story, found stops along his car journey/road trip that will allow him to reminisce/ruminate, etc. But I think my biggest problem is that I don’t have a handle on the character, I can’t see him, I don’t know him as well as I outlined him. Ah, there’s the rub. He is still an outline, not flesh and blood.

    On top of all that, I went into the storage in the basement a couple of nights ago and retrieved some 10 year old short stories and 15-20 year old poems. The short stories are all typical of my favorite genre so I am getting pulled away.

    Drop back 10 and punt. A football analogy (since the US football season is fast approaching). Can’t get my first down on offense. I’ll let my defense do some work until I get the ball back.

    And, no, this analogy does not mean that I will do no writing during football season. Bite your collective tongues!


  7. jenniferneri said,

    August 7, 2009 at 8:12 am

    Do you think that you can get to know him as time passes. I know we all work differently, for myself, I have to write the novel to get to know my characters. then, I re-draft and iron it out.

    I find it wonderful that you are digging out old stuff and connecting with it! Wow!! Can you use your shorts as escapes, or do you do one project at a time?


  8. tikiman1962 said,

    August 8, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    It would be an interesting notion to “write” the novel and then “get to know” the character after the fact. But I have to at least have a better grasp of him in order to push the first domino, so to speak. Revisions can come later. I know his story; I’m not so sure if I know him. And for me, it is very important to get inside the skin of my primary characters first in order to take the first few steps.

    As for the “old stuff”, a lot of good possibilities, a lot of raw material to work with. And, yes, I do work on more than one thing at a time. At one point, I was reading two magazines, a novel, finisihing editing another novella for publication and doing final drafts of a novel. There’s an old expression about having enough time to rest when we’re dead. I keep plugging away.


  9. tikiman1962 said,

    August 24, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Special thanks today to Jennifer Neri. I’ve abandoned the new methodology of writing in regard to this new novel (i.e. slowly revising as I proceed, not proceeding until corrected, etc.) It was slowing me down and making me crash. I went back to Old School Rip-And-Burn. Get it down on paper. Let the charcater speak. He knows what he wants to say. I can get to know him better that way.
    It was nearly a month ago that i crashed at 4000 words. The past two days alone I’ve completed a chapter at over 6000 words. 50% increase on word count (not that it’s a factor) in two days.
    Thanks Jennifer.


  10. jenniferneri said,

    August 26, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Thank you!
    I am so happy to hear that!
    What the web can do!
    Keep at it.


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