My first post here at The Macaronis will be both an introduction and a few words about my writing process. First of all let me say I was thrilled to be asked to be a contributor to this new weblog and I hope I will be able to add something interesting and useful to both readers and writers of gay historical fiction.
My debut novel, The Filly, was published last October. It’s meant to re-invent the classic Hollywood Western with a pair of cowboy lovers.
I’ve had an interest in writing all my life, but I only seriously took it up five years ago. For the past 20 years, I had it in the back of my mind that I was going to write a novel, but I just couldn’t come up with an original idea. Then I finally had a revelation. Why not write a Western? I had literally watched hundreds of Western movies and countless Western TV shows. My devotion to the genre had practically made me an aficionado. Mix that with my true-life experiences of being a gay man, and I had something. Thus, The Filly was born.
For me, the process works best, when I have a well-constructed outline. I find that without one, my writing gets bogged down and tends to meander all over the place. A strong outline of the plot is like the spine of the story. Later, in the writing process I am able to brainstorm all the little details that become the “meat” of the story. Research, I tend to do along the way. I’ll find that I need to verify certain things, so I’ll scour the internet looking for tidbits of information that will bring authenticity to the details.
I find that the most thrilling thing that can happen during the process is discovering a new angle that was not originally part of the plan, yet fits perfectly into place. One of the character turns in The Filly was just such an example.
Once the first draft is complete, I share it with my family and friends to get some feedback, but more importantly, I set it aside. It is necessary to gain some distance and perspective that only time can provide. For The Filly, I didn’t start working on the second draft until a year had passed. With all the cobwebs cleared out of my mind, I reread it and could see its weaknesses. There were sections of the book that were much too thin and needed some serious beefing up. Draft number two was quite a bit longer and I also delved deeper into the psyches of my characters. Once again, I shared it with my friends and set it aside. The third draft was really not a rewrite, but simply polishing and making small changes based on comments from friends. Then I began working with an editor, but that is a whole other story.
My current writing projects are a Filly pre-quel, which is an earlier story about Travis before he meets Ethan; a tentative sequel that takes place some 20 years after The Filly; and I also have plans to write a fictional biography along the lines of Miss Potter, but with a real-life character of my own choosing.
Stay tuned for my next post. I’m calling it “Writing a Western: Historical Accuracy Vs. the Mythical Old West as Rhapsodized by Literature and Cinema of the Early 20th Century.”
Happy writing, everyone!