Sunday, August 11, 2013

Writing Hawthorne

There isn't anything else I enjoy writing more than the Hawthorne stories. They're just amazingly cathartic for me, and I approach them in a different way than I do my other work.

The goal with each Hawthorne tale is intensity and brevity. Those two qualities are something I always strive for anyway, but with Hawthorne it's even more important. I want the stories to reflect the character himself-- that is, stripped down, unsentimental, harsh. If there's any humor at all, it's a very dark humor. The few times the reader finds Hawthorne smiling, it usually involves something gruesome.

The directness and lack of adornment in these stories has come gradually, too-- if you read them in order, you might notice that each one gets leaner than the one before; I didn't really do that on purpose, but it's been a result of my realizing what sort of writer I am and what sort of man Hawthorne is.

I've also discovered that I enjoy writing about the bad guys Hawthorne comes into conflict with. Three of the four published stories on Kindle have a heavy focus (at least in the first half) on Hawthorne's quarry. Again, this wasn't something I did on purpose. I didn't realize I was doing it until after the fourth one, "Bad Sanctuary", was complete. But I think spending some time with the bad guys, getting inside their minds a bit, seeing how they react to the merciless and scary scarred gunman, is great fun.

For all the enjoyment I get out of writing Hawthorne's adventures, getting each one started is like pulling teeth. Without fail, there are at least three false starts, sometimes as many as five or six, before I finally settle on where to begin. It's important to me with Hawthorne to take the most direct route possible, not waste the reader's time with extemporaneous stuff. That means beginning as close to the action as possible. These are unapologetic pulp stories, focused on action and horror.

But you know, once I get the beginning worked out (which I swear to you is about HALF the writing time for each one) things just roll along like crazy. The shit practically writes itself at that point. Afterwards, I spend a lot of time going through, striking out unneeded paragraphs, unneeded sentences, unneeded words. I'm especially careful with Hawthorne's dialogue-- each and every word he says is measured for import, because it's better, I think, when he doesn't talk. If he's speaking, I try to make absolutely sure that the words are vitally important.

Right now, I'm working on "Scarred", the fifth Hawthorne story for Kindle. It's kinda-sorta his origin story, plus. About twice as long as previous stories, it will end what I think of as the "first cycle" of Hawthorne tales.

But I'm far from done with this "hard-eyed righter of wrongs".

*image by Kevin Walsh


  1. I'm looking forward to reading "Scarred" and glad to hear that the series will continue.

  2. What James said. And its an honor to publish these, Heath.

  3. I, too, have enjoyed the HAWTHORNE tales. Keep 'em comin', Heath!