The Result of the Roads


My next novel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, is now above the 46,000-word mark. I worked on the 18th chapter during parts of Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. This morning I updated the outline, which is now nearly 13,000 words on its own.

Updating ranks right up there with paying bills and trimming the branches of trees that line my long driveway on my list of existence banes. Before I start writing a novel, I form a sparse resume with general direction on where I want the story to go. Then, at the end of each chapter, I add layers of detail to the resume, mainly as a reference tool. I don’t want a green Pontiac in Chapter 3 to become a tan Chrysler in Chapter 27.

By Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)
By Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)

As I make my way through the story, it develops additional twists and turns, and the outline also helps me hold it together. This one is the most complicated since The Intangibles. To borrow from movies, this has an ensemble cast and switches back and forth between parallel story lines.

I’d dive right back into it – Chapter 18 is nearly 4,000 words and is a key chapter – but I need to sigh several times and say “whew” before I gather the next thoughts.

So I’m killing a bit of time by writing this. I guess it’s therapy, in a way.

Among the characters are an out-of-work journalist in North Carolina, a former football player now teaching English at a Virginia private school, and a college student who aspires to be a writer. They all stumble across unconventional and undesirable solutions to their sproblems. They are all in over their heads in a quasi-government conspiracy they cannot yet comprehend.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has a climax, but it is looking for an ending. I thought it had an ending, but now I want a better one. This isn’t unusual for me. I prefer to be both organized and adventurous. I want to be disciplined but for my fiction also to have a seat-of-the-pants feel. I want the best of both those worlds. It may be easier for me because it is my preferred style, the one that has been slowly developing for many years.

My style is a result of all the roads I’ve taken.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written five novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

My new novel is a western, Cowboys Come Home.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.


(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).





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