Guest Post: On Writing The Intangibles by Monte Dutton

The Intangibles by Monte Dutton is set in the late 1960s in a small South Carolina town just as the public schools are being integrated.  Black students from Mossy Springs High School are now going to attend the all-white Fairmont High, further ramping up tensions.  Reese Knighton is hired to coach the team and find common ground with Willie Spurgeon, the former successful coach from Mossy Springs.  The high school football team must put aside their differences at a time when the world seems to be unraveling.

Today, Dutton is going to provide some insight on his inspiration and journey in writing the book.  Please give him a warm welcome.  Also, there’s a giveaway!

Years ago, when writing about baseball was part of my job, I used to say that there is only one way to keep score, and that is the way that works for you. I’ve come to believe that it applies to writing fiction.

I taught myself to play guitar, and I taught myself to write fiction. Many sports fans have asked me how they could become a writer over the years. My answer – “The best way to learn how to write is to read” – often seems to disappoint them. Everyone wants a gimmick.

Here’s how I wrote The Intangibles. I started out with a vague idea of what I wanted to write. I then wrote a vague outline and conjured up general attributes to ascribe to the main characters. I’m sort of a seat-of-the-pants guy. I started writing – working my way toward the ending – and at the end of each chapter, I added layers of detail to the outline, as much as a reference tool – I didn’t want a green Buick in Chapter Five to morph into a yellow Mercury in Chapter Eleven – as a means of evaluating how it was all moving along. This haphazard method of mine involves a good bit of time between chapters to think about where I just went and am next going. This is my “mulling time,” which I consider at least as important as the writing time.

The second draft is basically one of economizing, where I discover that the manuscript has plenty of material that, while entertaining, doesn’t happen to move the story along. This was a lesson that The Audacity of Dope imparted, but, suffice it to say, it’s hard.

The third draft is where the story is set but the writing needs polishing. I try to turn a few phrases I left straight before.

The challenge of The Intangibles was to go from a simple story – all the characters revolve around the adventures of Riley Mansfield and Melissa Franklin in Audacity – to a complex one. The Intangibles has what motion-picture fans would refer to as an ensemble cast. It was a new challenge for me.

The Intangibles was also more personal. I’m not sure if there really is a central character, but if it’s Frankie Hoskins, it’s one created out of my own childhood experiences. Frankie’s not I, but he’s a lot like me. I was thinking about lots of real people when I wrote the book, but it’s a long way from being just a story where the names were changed to protect the innocent. Many characters are entirely made up in that I didn’t actually know anyone like them growing up.

One amusing aspect of The Audacity of Dope was hearing from readers who were just sure Riley, or Melissa, was based on them, when, in fact, their mention marked the first time it occurred to me. I thought about lots of real people in The Intangibles, but none of the characters was drawn fully on that basis.

About the Author:

Monte Dutton lives in Clinton, South Carolina. In high school, he played football for a state championship team, then attended Furman University, Greenville, S.C., graduating in 1980, B.A., cum laude, political science/history.

He spent 20 years (1993-2012)wriing about NASCAR for several publications. He was named Writer of the Year by the Eastern Motorsports Press Association (Frank Blunk Award) in 2003 and Writer of the Year by the National Motorsports Press Association (George Cunningham Award) in 2008. His NASCAR writing was syndicated by King Feature Syndicate in the form of a weekly page, “NASCAR This Week” for 17 years.

Monte Dutton is also the author of Pride of Clinton, a history of high school football in his hometown, 1986; At Speed, 2000 (Potomac Books); Rebel with a Cause: A Season with NASCAR’s Tony Stewart, 2001 (Potomac Books); Jeff Gordon: The Racer, 2001 (Thomas Nelson); Postcards from Pit Road, 2003 (Potomac Books); Haul A** and Turn Left, 2005 (Warner Books), True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed, 2006. (Bison Books); and is an Editor/Contributor of Taking Stock: Life in NASCAR’s Fast Lane, 2004 (Potomac Books).

The Audacity of Dope, 2011 (Neverland Publishing) was his first novel, and Neverland recently published his second, The Intangibles. Another, Crazy by Natural Causes, is in the works.

Visit the author’s website, Facebook, and Twitter.







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  1. As an aspiring writer, I love reading posts like this. Thanks for sharing!
    Anna´s last blog post ..Review: Second Glances by Alexa Adams

  2. I always enjoy reading how authors create. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hm, Clinton’s not too far from me. I wonder what town he uses as the basis for his fictional town.
    bermudaonion (Kathy)´s last blog post ..Wondrous Words Wednesday