Thursday, September 24, 2009

Furthermore, on the Subject of Names...

I have already had two instances of naming characters that are names of people that have already had a varied degree of fame a few decades ago. For example: I wanted to use the name 'Slim Pickens' as nickname at one point, not knowing about Dr. Strangelove. The name just sounded perfect for the character, so I went out and google'd it (something I do with all my names now... just because I don't want to be called out for libel) and I found my guy riding a cotton-pickin' atom bomb. Damnit.

What are the common rules to name-usage? Can you use names as long as they are obvioulsy different? Do you just avoid these names at all costs?


Novel Blog (II) - Outline Done!

I think I move faster than most when it comes to writing. I can't say that's a particularly bad thing to say. In fact, I would go so far as to say I'm pretty psyched about being able to say that. Two days ago, I found an excellent guide that I discussed in my last entry. Through the use of the oh-so-easy to use Freemind software, I have a 12 chapter novel laid out along with major and minor characters and scenes. I. Just. Destroyed it. I haven't even written the story yet, but the elements came together without hardly any stopping them. One element led to another, and another, and so on.

It scares me to a certain extent, because surely it can't be as easy as it just ended up being. Sure, I spent almost the entirety of the last two days working on my map, but it still didn't seem like enough time to spend. I think the hardest part for me will be contriving all the minutiae that will be found in the book. More subplots (ergo, more chapters) will inevitably find its way into the text, and I will struggle with the actual act of writing more than I did just telling the story.

It's good to have this problem, I think. I don't think I am the level of writer that makes this sort of thing easy yet. I have a great story (at least I think so) but I am a little worried that my grasp on the English language won't be able to bring the story to life as well as I expect it to. But that's fine. First drafts are always a little wonky (or so I've been led to believe) and I'm not particularly worried about it. I'm looking forward to the creation process, but I actually fell in love with mapping out how the story is going to take place as well... something I have read as being tedious, I found to be exhilarating.

Using Freemind was a great little process that created the elements for the novel that I didn't know existed. I discovered characters that are quintessential to the plot that makes the whole thing come together, I discovered drug addictions that were hitherto unknown, I found little scraps of notes that ended up being a phone number to a dark, mysterious figure that was foreshadowed to early on in the first chapter that I am now attempting to rewrite completely.

Perhaps I need to be more fastidious. I'm flying through this stuff and I'm enjoying the heck out of it. I know there's holes to fill and problems will arise, but right now the words are falling onto the page with an easy alacrity that makes me both wary and very, very excited.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How To's

So I just found some great how-to's over at Simon Hayes' blog. These are great! Love, love, love them. In fact, I went so far as to send him an e-mail (something I never do) about how much they are, in fact, the shit.

That's all I got for now. I've decided that Tuesdays are the black hole for creative thought. Mondays you can pull from your anger that another weekend has died at the hands of the dreaded Work Week, Wednesdays are full of hope that you may actually make it through, Thursdays are 'light at the end of the tunnel', and Fridays... well I'm drunk on Fridays. Saturday and Sunday are always amazing.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Novel Blog (1)

So I'm trying something new now. I have been mulling over the story for a while, and I have tons of notes, bits of dialogue and a plot outline. What I want to do is talk about my experience in writing my first novel and all the heartache and torture that will inevitably come with it. I don't think I'm going to give too much of the story itself away...maybe a quick outline, but I would like to keep the final product so I can (hopefully, haha) get it published. So, let's try to explain the story that has been making me lose sleep for the past month or so.

What I gots so far...
Mark Menkowitz is a 38 year old Jewish newspaper editor who has just lost his wife to a car crash. When something this horrible happens, there is always a certain grieving period, but Mark's could have been so short that it may have been completely absent. My story revolves around Mark's life post-Sheila (his late wife) and how he remembers through her absence what was and why they had fallen in love in the first place. When he goes back to the house they moved into as newlyweds, he begins to remember the wife that he had loved so much.

While he is going through a prolonged and increasingly belabored grieving process, he also has to deal with the realization that the future of his newspaper (the largest in his city) is hemorraging dollars and is in danger of collapse. Through the continued sadness Mark is faced with, he will go on a journey that will lead him through guilty pleasures and pitfalls, happiness and moments of relfection, love and agony.

I think that's enough for now. I find myself writing a screenplay with the novel, and I don't really know which one will take priority yet. I have the first scene of the script done, and it was the first thing I did to explain it (Thank you goes out to those very fine folks over at Celtx for making deliciously awesome free script and novel editing software! You are my heroes) but without any scripting experience, I am horribly anxious about the prospect of putting so much creative effort into something that may fail miserably. (Or, as Mark would say, "I just ain't gonna sit in a pool of shit if there's a hot tub next to me.")


Some things that piss me off...

I was reading some stories on blogs today... stuff that read "First Two Chapters! Enjoy!" and it kind of made me realize where the bridge between good and bad writing is. I think I made a breakthrough in dregging through the literary offal found on the internets.

1. People who write stories about someone writing a story. It's dumb and convoluded. The best story like this was The Secret Window and that was written by Stephen King... the guy can pull off any over-used, horribly cliche plot he wants. The majority of us, however, cannot. So, if you ever feel like your character has to write... think about it again. Is there any other way you can give your character some ambiance of creativity? Think about it. Stay the fuck away from cliches - especially this one.

2. Dumbass page-long narratives of two people staring at eachother in silence. This seems pretty self-explanatory. If your male protagonist looks out into the park and sees a beautiful girl, don't give me a page about her fucking hair. It's dumb and boring and not realistic. As a guy, I can say, without equivocation, that when I see a woman I don't break out into sonnet. Neither should your dude. If your just trying to boost your word count, then you're a poser... if you're trying to show off flowery language, you're a loser... if you're trying to show how emotionally touched your guy is, you're lying.

3. Having one long paragraph that should be broken up into two. Reading devolves into scanning when confronted with a wall of text. When you have a paragraph that doesn't seem to end, find a good place to break it up. There's always a spot out there. Find it. Rule of thumb: if you have more than one central subject going on in a paragraph, you're doing it wrong.

4. Don't be a cocky prick. People notice your douchebaggery. A simple rule of thumb exists here. If you think very highly of yourself, it will come through in your writing and it will no longer be sincere. Self-flaggelation and a good sense of humor are paramount in writing, and without the ability to laugh at yourself, your writing looks contrived and brings up images of Patrick Bateman flexing in the mirror while banging a chick in American Psycho. If you want to write, get over yourself. Write for the love of the story, not for the love of yourself. Prick.

5. Don't make wild claims about how other people write when you're not even published yet. Yeah, and hypocrites. I hate hypocrites.

That's it. Enjoy your crushed egos.