The Back of an Envelope

Another commute that resulted in a surprising amount of thought about the closing chapters of And/News. I had to grab an old envelope on the passenger’s seat so I could scrawl some notes at red lights.

Note to self: next book sale, get a Palm Tungsten, which has a built-in voice recorder. Much safer to talk into your Palm like Captain Kirk rather than balance an envelope and pen against the steering wheel. Much cooler, too.

Anyway, here’s a peek at what I wrote and what the words mean. Some of them are for things yet to be written, while others are what I call “Retro Notes” – things to go back and fix in parts of the manuscript already written.

(Disclaimer: these things may or may not appear in the final version of And/News.)

The notes:

Fight to keep me?
You didn’t.

This was a note for a snippet of dialogue between a man and a woman that is to go something like this:

“That’s it? That’s all? You’re leaving, just like that?”
“Aren’t you going to fight to keep me?”
“Why? You didn’t fight to keep me.”

I need a name for an FBI agent who appears in the last chapter. I thought about naming him Stanley Goodspeed, after Nicolas Cage’s character in The Rock – but it’s not really a film I like all that much. Instead, it hit me that I know a real-life Forensic Chemist who would (hopefully) be greatly amused to find himself in one of my novels. I wrote down his wife’s name because I’m not sure I could work in his first name because of the way the scene is playing out in my head. So if I mention his wife’s name, that should leave no question as to the agent’s identity.

A bit of character development for N, a minor character. Richard sees an Alberta plate on a vehicle this person is driving and mentions it; “Do you have plans?” The character replies, “I’ve always liked Banff.” (I promise this makes sense in context of the book).

N. lives in LA
I need to make sure this is established earlier (probably in a chapter that is already finished) to explain a number of things that will play out… including the Alberta license plate. This is a case where I knew something about a character but failed to mention it. Now I need to make sure it’s there.

(check mark) end of 19 to establish N’s car if needed
When I finished Chapter 19 the other day, I wrote the ending one way, scrapped much of it, and ended it differently. Now I can’t remember how much I scrapped. One of the details to get tossed out may or may not have been what kind of car N. is now driving. It needs to be in the right place at the right time.

So there’s another peek at the process. Now you know why I tend not to outline, and why it’s important that I do something with all those little scraps of paper I tend to accumulate. And why I think I need a Palm Tungsten.

Maybe I’ll give you a peek at some of my Retro Notes next. Let me think about it.

NP – WHLO-AM – The Bill Hall Show


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