Howard Michael Gould

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Howard Michael Gould is a screenwriter and playwright, and was head writer and executive producer of several network television series. His debut detective novel, LAST LOOKS, was published by Dutton in 2018. A sequel, BELOW THE LINE, will follow in August, 2019.

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Howard Michael Gould Thanks for the question. Answering a similar question below, I said that I don’t think in terms of inspiration, I think in terms of process and…moreThanks for the question. Answering a similar question below, I said that I don’t think in terms of inspiration, I think in terms of process and treating it as a job. But having experienced the release of my first novel, I’d like to amend that.

Hollywood writing is always conditional: your script may or may not get produced, and even if it does, you’re at the mercy of so many collaborators and overseers and by the end it may bear no resemblance to what you intended.

But as a novelist, especially with the positive response LAST LOOKS has gotten, I now sit down to work every day believing not only that what I’m writing is going to see the light of day, but that it will reach readers essentially unmediated, and that there are even people who’ll be looking forward to it.

If not actual “inspiration,” that’s at least giving me an unexpected and very pleasant tailwind.(less)
Howard Michael Gould The blank page (well, screen) terrifies me. I know many fine writers start with a grain of an idea and just start writing sentences and paragraphs and…moreThe blank page (well, screen) terrifies me. I know many fine writers start with a grain of an idea and just start writing sentences and paragraphs and “let the characters surprise them” and see where it all goes. Their process is based on a sort of mystical connection with the muse, or at least the unconscious. Many books far greater than my own have been written that way, of course, but if I tried to work that way I’d be so debilitated by inferiority and self-hatred that I’d never produce a page.

For better or worse, I spent much of my early career writing for series television, where unproductive days are an unaffordable luxury. It was there that I learned the value of extensive outlining and then extensive rewriting, both habits which I brought with me when I turned to fiction and which have, for me, completely eliminated writer’s block.

On my second novel, in fact, I spent as many months outlining as I spent “writing” the first drafts of the manuscript. I’m addicted to an index card software program called, as it happens, Writer’s Blocks, on which I play around with my story until I truly believe that every problem is solved and every question is answered and the character moves within every chapter have been arranged. Then I transfer those rough cards (hundreds of them) into Word, where I turn them into present tense prose, “pre-writing” each chapter, each scene, including bits of dialogue and any details I happen to think of. (The present tense is no doubt another vestige of my years in Hollywood, where formal outlines as well as screenplays are written that way.)

Anyway, this isn’t prose that I’d ever share with anyone, but it’s functional, more or less grammatical, and clear enough that I could put the file away and pick it up ten years later and still understand how the entire novel would work. And it’s thorough: for my second novel, the outline came in at 67 single-spaced pages, or about 40% as many words as the manuscript it yielded.

The “real” sentences and pages come last. At that point I’m just fleshing out and giving life to the hundreds of bits of story which I’ve already assembled. I try to write each paragraph as well as I can as I go, but I know that when I’ve gotten through the chapter I’ll go back and do a second pass on the computer and then a third with red pen on a hard copy before moving on, and that later on I’ll no doubt take several more passes before I ever show it to anyone. So I never find myself crippled by perfectionism, either.(less)
Average rating: 3.68 · 154 ratings · 44 reviews · 3 distinct works
Last Looks: A Novel

3.69 avg rating — 153 ratings4 editions
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Below the Line: A Charlie W...

did not like it 1.00 avg rating — 1 rating3 editions
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Diva

0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings — published 2003
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Sabbath's Theater by Philip Roth
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I wrote the first ever senior thesis on Philip Roth at Amherst College, in 1983-84. Roth was fifty at the time, and my advisor (who, as it happened, later became a reader of Roth’s early drafts as Roth was revising toward publication) thought it a go ...more
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Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
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I’m enjoying Goodreads, but as an author, I’m self-conscious about giving traditional star-ratings and reviews. (Do I give my friends all fives? What does it mean if I don't rate somebody's book? And so on.) Instead, I’ve listed with five stars a num ...more
Last Looks by Howard Michael Gould
"This was a fun read. I thoroughly enjoyed the lens through which our modern cultural caprices were viewed and acknowledged in a tongue in cheek reflection by the outlier ex cop turned minimalist. Very enjoyable and I hope for more!"
Last Looks by Howard Michael Gould
"This was a fun, fast-paced mystery I thoroughly enjoyed! I listened to the audio version and the narrator used different voices and accents to make it an easy and entertaining listen. I give it two thumbs up! 👍🏻👍🏻"
Last Looks by Howard Michael Gould
"Last Looks introduces the reader to ex-LAPD cop and minimalist Charlie Waldo. When I started this book I thought I was going to hate it. When I got about a third of the way through the book I was hooked. Waldo started out seeming like a weird 1970..." Read more of this review »
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Christopher Durang Explains it All for You by Christopher Durang
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The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor
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Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo
Nobody's Fool
by Richard Russo (Goodreads Author)
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Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
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