For reasons unknown, early this morning and late this afternoon have been monstrously productive for me with respect to ideas for a novel. I’ve spent hours documenting details of several characters and some fundamental outlines of the plot. I don’t know exactly where the thing will go, ultimately, but there’s enough meat thus far to give me plenty to write about in the coming weeks and months. If I could maintain the level of intensity from which I’ve been working today, I could finish the thing by Friday!
The degree to which the ideas consumed my thought today is best illustrated by example. As my wife and I were nearing the Balboa gate of Hot Springs Village, off to seek lunch in the real world, I had to pull off the road onto a side street so I could record a memo to myself about an idea I wanted to change. Then, as we were heading home after lunch, I began verbally outlining where one of the more sinister characters in my sketch enjoyed having lunch; he had a tendency to seek restaurants with odd names and I came up with one out of the air, at random, that I fell in love with! At some point during the day I read to my wife, aloud, my notes about the characters. She thought I was reading the text of the first paragraph of the novel (which would have been awful, had that been the case), but she liked the characters and asked questions about them, e.g., “how long have they been married?” My descriptions of the characters and their backgrounds probably will never find space in the novel; I documented my thoughts about the characters so I could know them well, well enough to understand their motives and fears and wishes. I am learning their backgrounds in detail; some of their background will necessarily find purchase in the novel as I write it, but not as a dry recitation of the past but, instead, in conversation or in some other way that makes sense and doesn’t look like a core dump.
What I find most exciting about what I’ve done so far is that a number of vignettes I’ve written over the years seem to have been written with this idea in mind and, therefore, are fitting in quite nicely to the overarching structure of what’s beginning to gel. I figure the material that doesn’t find its way into the novel (and there will be plenty) can still find its way into a three-component compilation of selected short stories, essays, and poetry. Tonight, I’m feeling bloody prolific!
One idea that probably won’t make its way into a book manuscript, but I love anyway, is this: Dick Cheney invites Jeff Sessions, Mike Pence, and Donald Trump to his ranch to hunt deer. He sends them off in one direction to flush out deer, while he waits to see what emerges from the brush. A few minutes later, he hears rustling leaves and the sound of snapping twigs. He brings the butt of the stock of his semi-automatic AR-15 to his shoulder and points toward the noise. Just as he sees what looks like an antler, he pulls the trigger one, twice, three times, over and over and over. And then he realizes what he’s done. And he begins to fashion an explanation; this time, it might be a little more difficult.
Too obvious, huh?