Troy Kirby

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Writing Naps

Exhaustion plays tricks on me when I attempt to write after not getting much sleep. While I enjoy hanging out in my friends, the most I do so and stay up late, I find the less likely the next day will provide me with a lot of good ideas or words to write about. I imagine my brain is asleep while the body functions on auto pilot.

These are some of the demands of a writer. You have to be able to know what works for you and what doesn’t. While it has not affected long-term writing, short-term has not always been good. Especially around the weekends when you have a lot of late night hours to pull, and bars to close. And trust me, closing a bar gets less fun the longer you are alive. Mainly due to the fact that the older you get, the more often you need a nap.

I have a large real world job commitment that takes all day. Thus, this blog post is extremely short. However, I told myself I would write a post every day. I have kept that promise, sometimes adding two or three more posts per day to continue it going. The 5,000 word regiment is still working, but when you are exhausted, it is extremely tough by comparison of when you are fully rested. With that, I am glad that the NFL draft is picking some of my personal favorite student-athletes. And the Vancouver Canucks look to go up 2-0 on the Nashville Predators in the hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sinister People & The Royal Wedding

Sinister people can’t be made up. That’s my thought for today. I watched the movie Bronson last night with my friend, Andrew. This character of the movie is actually based on a real man. And it doesn’t matter that I only see him hold a gun once (never firing). The man is about as cold-blooded as you can get. Aside from Queen Elizabeth when it comes to royal divorces. Charlie Bronson, or Michael Peterson, appears to be one of the most sinister characters I have witnessed. Mainly due to his stare, the fact he does not shout but speak slowly at times, and he has those cold eyes staring at you. No, he is not a celly you want to have in the big house.

This brings me to the point of British Crime novels or movies. The rest that they are popular is that there is a bit of naivety to their creation. They have nuance, even if they come from the bad part of town. Americans are pull out guns, shoot first and ask later. The Brits across the Pond appear content to know why they must kill a person and then beat them to death. One of the rests may be that pistols are illegal in the UK. If you are going to kill someone in that country, you have to do it with your hands.

It is tougher, grittier to deal with. And makes for great situations and characters. Bronson uses a piece of cloth to strangle a man from behind. He does so in such a removed fashion, holding the cloth firm around the man’s neck as the victim struggles, that it appears more inhumane than if he walked up, shot the man in the chest without much dialogue.

The British Royal Wedding occurred last night. To fanfare of a billion viewers and a lot of choreographed ritual that kept them watching. This is story. Even though the occupants appeared in certain aspects to be removed, cold, isolated, it is that very reaction which appears more passionate than if the Queen had stood up and scolded Kate Middleton for not doing a proper curtsies. That being said, it held the interest of several countries, including the United States, even though British ceremony should be viewed as more of an oddity than it is. Didn’t we leave them in 1776, by chance? Interesting how story makes us multi-national.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The NFL Draft and Character Construction

I had an interesting point of contention with someone on road construction. The point that was made was that you could repave and change an entire area, yet the results would not be cosmetic. My argument is, if you can't see it at all, why does it take a year or more in order to do it? Sounds like an issue that will not be solved by me or the other person, but that brings up a good point. If you make references that are not cosmetic but people don't notice them, are they even references at all? Things are rather shaky when you think about what is noticed by the reader and what isn't.

One of the issues regarding details is that sometimes, you can make things mundane and bogged down by providing too much or too little detail. I've read a lot of books by Stephen King and Elmore Leonard. So when they make a reference which is to another book they have written, I understand it. But what if that reference is read by a person who never reads another one of their books? Does it fly over their head, prevent their desire to read further into the story because it appears confusing or simply appear as if it was written badly? King writes a lot about a clown with silver dollars for eyes which make confuse those readers who never read IT.

This type of layering of plot is interesting to the insider who wants to write in detailed fashion. Some details are extraneous in nature. I find that some of the more detail that I provide ends up being lost by the reader. Why? Because most people are half-reading anyway. They are looking for plot, following a story-line or a character. A lot of them may focus on the green potted plant if it becomes a part of the story-line, but that doesn't mean they will care if the storyline doesn't include the plant at all beyond that sentence.

The NFL Draft is tonight. A 96 hour marathon where guys names are read off. Then the analysts go over every detail of the player's life story. This is supposed to tie the viewer to the team decision, and also why they selected the player. But some of the details that the NFL teams focus on are absolutely ridiculous. How a guy scored on the Wonderlic test is extraneous information. So is how many times he ran a four-two-thirty in the grand scheme of things. None of things speak to the heart of a player or how what their threshold of pain is when someone hits them.

Characters are build through layering. But not merely gimmicks which suggest the guy smokes without cause. He smokes with a reason, doesn't he? Otherwise, he would have put it out when the first people asked him to. In the film, Sexy Beast, Ben Kingsley's character refuses to put out his cigarette on an airplane when the flight attendant asks. He suggests he put in out in her eye. What does that tell you about his character? He's an ass, and a scary man who is tough.

Some of the details are cosmetic but suggest more about the character than simply, "he smokes."

If he smokes, it means something. If he beats his wife, it means something. If he gets beaten by his wife, it means something too.

Too much construction of a character, scene or page focused on the internal without giving enough personal details that you should notice when reading. Whether it is the first time you've read that author or the fiftieth. That means when you go by that construction side, you should at least notice that the curb has ADA compliance or new white paint. If you don't, it can suggest that there isn't enough there to look closer.

Rewriting, boring people, and blog entries

I have the followup to Crunk basically done. But why it is taking so long to get that final draft in before I submit to my readers (then my editor), before I can publish?

These things haunt writers. I am sure I am not the first. It is not about story-line or character development at this point. Maybe I've read, written and developed the story so much that I am convinced it is done, but I still have to do that final re-write in order to truly convinced.

I do my re-writing different than a lot of people. I've heard that some people go through and add words to already existing sentences. Dean Koontz rewrites a sentence before he moves on with the next one about three or four times. He doesn't go through the story, etc and then rewrite it.

My brain doesn't work that way. I do full rewrites every single time. I just vomit out anything that comes to mind, change the story up about draft 3 or 4 to enhance things or take things about (after the follow-up to Crunk is complete, I will talk about how The Repo Blues short story came about).

Everything is luck of the draw. Especially in the world of arts. There are no coaches, no ability to get better with a boot camp. Most of the writing conventions want to teach you how to write their way, not the way that you find most comfortable. Which is fine, if you want to pay $500-$1000 to hear what works for someone else. I'm not saying that those things don't have merit, but I don't believe that they work for everyone.

I tend to write without touching a keyboard. I was talking to a boring person last night at a hotel bar that I frequent. This was the first time that I had seen him, but he started talking. About himself, as most boring people do. And without any interesting things to say about himself, which is the worst kind of boring. Not only is the subject boring, but the person telling it has no ability to make it sound interested, even to them. I guess it is what you expect to get when you talk to someone who knows they are boring. But I wonder if that guy knows he's the most boring person I've met today. Maybe.

I tend to find interesting things about people. Usually, they hold more significance to me than others. But that is the details of someone's life which are interesting. This fella did not really have a lot of interesting components to him. Even his stories were second-hand. He had spent twenty-seven years at his job which dealt in some capacity with fraud.

I expected to hear some interesting criminal activity. Some characters that he met along the way. It is only after hearing about forty-five minutes of this stuff that I wonder if he wandered through life until retirement, then didn't know what to do with himself. He admitted he sat at a desk, answered the phones, and "managed" people because that what was needed to be done. I cannot imagine never taking an interest in what you are doing beyond merely doing it.

The guy yammered on for about an hour and a half, criticizing the fact that I would rather write on my IPad2 than listen to him. But that got me thinking. Is he so uninteresting that he even bores himself? Now, in a way, that could be funny. I haven't thought of a way to utilize that in a character yet, but it maybe a keeper. Either that or he wasted a good section of night where I could have been writing, creating, because I was too polite to tell him to buzz off.

Thus far, I've covered a lot of things in this blog. I enjoy doing it. The blog doesn't feel like work, plus it gets me going sometimes. When I don't know what I am going to write about concerning a story or something, I just call up the IPad2, start typing in Pages, and crank out a blog post. It sits for a little while until I feel I've given a "post-worthy" segment to the blog. I don't want it to be "hi, I've got nothing today," but thanks for coming by and giving me a few more web hits.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book series, random thoughts, hockey (of course)

I’m thinking about developing a book series.

Now, that statement can be taken one of two ways. Either the writer is developing a series because they have a good idea or they want to make money. Although the money making venture aspect does not dissuade me from writing a series, it is not the only reason that I would interested in developing one.

I have the belief that some characters just won’t die, won’t be stopped, and have to keep having adventures until your hands get numb from writing about them. Some characters talk more to me than others in a story. The character named Leroy in The Harvest wasn’t supposed to be around as long as he was, but he just kept coming back to mind every time I thought I was done with him.

In the series that I have sketched out will be about three or four books worth. Each with their own adventure, able to solve specific problems with new characters popping up right away. The difference will be that I will not publish any of the books until all three or four have been finished. That doesn’t mean first draft, that means last draft. In order to ensure continuity of plot, character, etc.

I’ve been a very hard person on myself when it comes to continuity issues. I don’t like finding out that I screwed a character six ways to Sunday twice. Doesn’t happen in the real world, no way that my world it would be any different.

So, that’s what I’m thinking about. Wondering about watching hockey tonight as the Bruins and Montreal look to beat each other into submission in Game 7. If Boston wins, I will do the Bruin Bear dance for the hockey playoffs.

Yes, I am still able to keep up my 5,000 word pace. This morning it was a lot easier than this afternoon, but I crossed the finish line (just didn’t run a 4-minute mile).

I am overlooking the submissions to Smashwords of The Harvest & The Repo Blues, as well as looking over some short stories which are getting ready for the eyes of my friends, with possible release dates in the near future.

All looks well from here on Walton Mountain. Another dispatch done... that is all...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dystophia in writing and life

I finished about 8,700 words into my writing tonight. That does not include this post, which will put it over 9,000 words. But I asked myself tonight what that really meant. To me, it means ability to push myself to keep writing, even when I would rather do other things. Trust me, I am a big NHL fan. Not just hockey (Go Seattle T-Birds), but the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are special to me.

Especially tonight when the Canucks attempt to stave off history. They were up 3-0 in the seven game series, lost the next three, and are fighting off the lowly defending champion Blackhawks. BTW - if you are Blackhawks fan, you must hate your team. Big Buff was a great player your GM traded away for a few rental players and some unknown rookies. Not good.

That is nonsense and vaudeville but I have to tell you, it pulls me away to want to watch that rather than write. But I sat at the bar with my IPad2 and chose writing as my outlet. If that's what I want to do, it needs to be what I do the most. It doesn't matter whether I want to screw off with friends, I need to think first and foremost about writing. It doesn't mean I can't do specific things with my time, but writing needs to be the central focus.

Tonight I drafted a short story that was pretty good. Lately, I've been in a science fiction mood, especially for dystrophia. Have no explanation for it but that I've just found my focus there. When I write something, a million more separate ideas on the same subject get compounded together as different stories. I put them as lines in my IPad2 Notepad feature and then utilize them whenever I need a new story to write. Not all of these stories are going to be winners, as I am sure that an NBA player doesn't hit every practice shot they hit. But if you don't work on it, you don't improve.

I used to avoid Dystophia stories about futuristic land because I thought that it made my writing negative. But I started to embrace it as a way to separate myself by making some type of enjoyment coming out of this type of story. There is no reason to believe that the human species would exist in a dystophia if there were no entertainment involved. Why people live in Detroit? I have no clue, but I hear its getting close to seeing an entire decay of a city. They lose 500,000 people per year and have only about three or four years to go before the entire city should be entirely empty. There won't be drug dealers or criminals, because they have to have someone to sell to or someone to rob.

Always interesting to believe in a ghost city.

Well, I've done enough tonight. Thanks to my new bluetooth keyboard, I don't have the arm aches that I had previous when typing. Yes, as my friends tell me, I should be hired to sell Apple's new IPad2. I'm just that much of an advocate of it.

Feeling the writing zone coming... Releasing stories The Harvest & The Repo Blues

I got a feeling that I am getting back into the writing zone again. This sort of thing comes and goes with me, it's one of those feelings where you don't care about anything else but writing. Every idea jumps at you at the speed of one billion miles an hour, everything feels right and you just crank out some words. I had this feeling for a five-day period at the beginning of April where I could do not wrong in writing. I hit about 12,000 words per day, finished a bunch of stories, created new ones, and really liked everything that I was producing.

The only thing I did in order to ensure that I was producing quality was to rewrite it later, show it to a few friends, and sit on it until I was sure that it was ready to be released. Two of those stories are ready to go and will be up on Amazon and Smashwords in the next few days. I figured it would be best to announce it prior so I could explain my thoughts on both stories.

This morning, I felt fantastic after a night in which I had to find time for my writing. I wrote in the blog post how I had to flush all of my distractions. It's the same with a sports athlete. You get distracted with life issues, they cloud your judgement and your intentions. Your talent suffers. After watching the Sharks finished Game 6 and finally close out the LA Kings (who are the Billy Beane version of the NHL), I went home about eleven last night, slept until 5:45 a.m. and just started writing.

That's how I knew I was in the writing zone. You don't get to choose when it comes over you, none of the thought process focuses on your word count goal (if you have one like I do). Everything just cranks. Every idea comes together and you spend time about three days just running out every bit of energy because you have to get it out. When it happens, it is awestruck superstar writing that you can't emulate at any other point. I'm not saying that I can't write without those periods of being in the zone, but to right that clearly is a scary proposition that you can't emulate without it.

The Harvest was one of those stories that came out of the last zone. I am really excited about this short story because it adds several different components which make a fascinating test case for first-person delivery. It will sell for $0.99 on Amazon/Smashwords and has a great cover. I thought of the cover as I was writing the story, so it works well, I believe together. I had three friends check it out and they were amazed. This story is about a UCLA graduate student who receives an assistantship from a professor who moonlights as a ghost hunter.

This short story (9,000 words) came from several conversations I had with my friend, Andrew. At the time, we were discussing the pros and cons of horror stories dealing with paranormal or ghost activity. I think to use a scientific explanation makes it scarier because for me, anything that is plausible has more fear added to it than something that is obviously never going to be possible. Freddy Krueger as a nightmare sandman doesn't scare me as much as a psychotic killer stalking children in a small town.

I enjoyed the character of Ian but he wasn't the only one in the story. I added some stuff from a conversation I had with a homicide detective who was staying at the local casino during a convention. He talked in a strange way while drinking, never disrespectful but interesting. So I put him in the story because I thought he gave it a nice blend of reality right at the point where it could have been been bad. I saw a bunch of cockroaches in a documentary which made my stomach turn, along with a mention from a friend about dealing with them in California during his time there. Both of those things made their way into the story.

The Repo Blues is a funny crime/action story. You get those sometimes that were part of something else. This was part of the follow-up book to Crunk but didn't work as I was going through the third draft (so the character and his adventures were dropped out of it entirely). The Repo Blues clocks in at about 10,000 words and I do like it. I had a few friends read this one, sure that it was going to sit on my hard drive for a while and not see the light of day. However, everyone who read it laughed at it, thought it was funny, and I thought it should see if it could float in the world. It sells for $0.99.

I like the character of TIm Samuels because I've dealt with two guys who are a combination. They've dealt with people they try to do right by, but also keep things from. And it ends up blowing up in their face. The Repo Blues focuses on a guy who is trying to repossess luxury items after rich guys default on their loans and the people who surround his life. I am truly excited to put it online after thinking that it wasn't worth my time. That's why its important for others to read your material (without input from you). They see what is there, whether you do or not.

Thus far today, I've hit about 6,700 words. That includes working on another story which came out of the writing zone which is really good. I mean, it started as an 18,000 novel first draft, but I have the belief that as I'm getting into it, the story is going to cook enough to get up to the 50,000 - 70,000 range and be a great ghost story. Andrew was making fun of me the other day, "What is it with you and demons lately?"

I have no clue. Sometimes, I start writing a bunch of crime fiction. Or horror. The last week, all of my ideas have centered around science fiction. Some of the material I'm working on is strange at the moment, but that's okay. It says that I am working hard at developing the best writing ability possible. In order to do that, you have to practice every day at honing your craft.

So, where you are with your word count goal?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Making Time For Writing

I decided to make time for my writing today after a little neglect which I mentioned in the previous blog entry. Instead of watching most of the Pittsburg vs. Tampa Bay hockey game, or the start of the San Jose vs. LA hockey game, I instead focused on my time to develop my skill. Yep, selfish. But I do believe that my shutting off my phone, eliminating the search for funny youtube videos, and diverting my eyes (for the most part) from the NHL playoffs (screw you, NBA, I'm not forgiving you over the Sonics leaving, so you don't exist), I am hitting my 5,000 word goal.

I hit my 5,000 words in less than three hours. Yep, I am proud of that accomplishment especially after how hard it was going through the day, knowing that I needed to achieve it. I remember Rob Schneider's character saying something about effort in the show Men Behaving Badly where he said, "Hey, Europe wasn't our problem after World War II, but we went in there, rolled up our sleeves and cleaned it up." Okay, so my efforts to write 5,000 words today wasn't that monumental. But it did cause less deflation or stagnation of the local economies.

Now, I find that I can't stop typing even when I want to. That's the beauty of 5,000 words. It makes you start to think, a mental hand-crank that goes faster and faster until you finally collapse. Some people swear by less words and so be it. But my mentality is that with all drafts until the final one, you need to vomit out as many words as possible. The final draft is the one where you can start really cutting the fat down. Until then, you should be exploring everything that you have in front of you.

I'm curious how many people actually write with a word-count goal in mind. Maybe a percentage that is less than fifty. I'm guessing that some people just write what they feel, stop, and then say, "yep, that's all I have in the tank today." I can't do that. If I don't write 5,000 words in one story, I start on another one. I do count blog entries as part of the goal, mainly because in the last few weeks since I started this blog, I have felt it is a duty. I don't write merely to write, I attempt to have a purpose. Otherwise what is the point of the blog or my involvement with the blog?

One of the things that I have attempted to cut off is the need for cable television, the internet or any other distraction. While I do go to bars to watch television or explore the internet, I do that as a way to get out of the house. But I bring along my Ipad2 and crank as many words as I can out. This sucker has a 10-hour battery life, and if the majority of that life is used not to write words, there is no one to blame for it but myself.

The blog has helped me think about the process of writing. It develops a better method for me to improve how I write. I have to attempt to retain readership, build a following and really keep this from being a blog that only I write for and no one reads. Scary isn't it? What if we are merely writing for ourselves (not providing anything that anyone wants to read)? Listen to the lyrics of Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd and ask yourself if that might not be the fear.

As long as I don't write car commercials, I believe I will be fine. I mean, really, honestly, truly, does anyone really buy a car based on a commercial? The KIA Soul commercials with the hamsters are awesome, but I can't tell you that I drove one in Seattle as a rental because I liked the hamsters. I did it because it was a safe car with good fuel economy. But they still put out commercials, which must mean that someone buys because of the story they tell.

I've hit well over 5,000 words now. I'm clocking somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,500 because I am working on several short stories. One is really starting to move for me. Tomorrow, I am posting a new $0.99 short story on Amazon and Smashwords. I've been delaying because of the cover development and making sure that my friends believed it was worthy of releasing.

By mentioning it in this blog, I am setting a goal tomorrow to list the short story and get it ready to show off. It pushes me further to ensure that I follow through. Too many times, we create short-cuts for ourselves. I do this in a lot of things (video games with cheat codes, especially), but it is really something bad that I need to stop. Making shortcuts hurts my development as a writer.

There is another short story, a crime-action-drama one, but I am unsure what to do with it right now, so it sits until I feel it is ready. I'm not taking a short-cut by tossing it up on the web without thinking it through first (I don't have a cover I like) and it can wait. My goal is not to be the most prolific author with a lot of errors in my text. My goal is to be a prolific, widely-read author who issues clean copy that people enjoy reading.

But neither of these short stories are the ones i worked on today. I developed two new ideas, worked a little on a third, and then did two blog entries. By the time I am finished, I will be clocking about 7,200-7,500 words and happy when I go to bed tonight. That's the thing about writing.

There is always time for it, so make time. And, that makes 1,000 more words.

Flush the distractions, start writing

I got a little distracted today. Take that back, I got a lot of distraction today. It ruled my life, confused my mind and made me near catatonic to writing. One of those types of multiple work issues which overwhelm your life for the time that the employer owns it. By the time I left for work, I noticed that I had not written any of my 5,000 words today. See, it's that ritual that you break that soon becomes a wrong-headed habit. At least, that's my saying. Yeah, I just made it up. Learn to deal.

There are a lot of challenges to writing. Several of them transform into life issues. The kids you have, the job you work, everything else. I had five major issues that ruled my life today. My old job still had my retirement account (not rolled over, about to expire). The light company sent me a second notice that I had not paid my bill of $44.79 (which I had, using their online billing system and had proof through Chase) which took time. I had two meetings with key people at work. Neither was bad, but it drained me of time. And then finally, I had to deal with a friend who needed me to listen to them as they went through a job issue.,

All of this amounts to the 225 words I have written to this point. Make that 240 words.

That's not what I signed up for. I was supposed to hit 5,000 words each night. And looking at 4 p.m. Pacific, it looks like either write my ass off or sit there with about a thousand words in the bank, and totally break down because I failed myself. And really, at the end of the day, it's about failing yourself if you don't hit your goals.

I have two short stories which I could have worked on. I haven't up to this point.

I could have worked on the novel which is a follow-up to Crunk and about ready to really be cut down to be sent off to my personal editor for review (as well as my friends, who read my stories to ensure they do not suck).

I could have worked on two or three novel outlines of potential works that I haven't started yet, but have firm ideas where they are headed.

Right now, I'm at 403 words. That's not a good start, but I'm going to keep writing as long as I can until I get to 5,000. See, the point is that the task is daunting when you allow it to be. I could worry about my car payment, or the fact that my truck still has issues with its last tuneup, or do a lot of other things that could keep my mind influx. Or I can flush it.

That's my term for it. You just flush everything, get selfish and start writing.

Some of you reading this have children. You have jobs. You have life issues like that crazy ex that keeps texting you.

My advice is for you to be selfish (to a point). Feed the kids, get off work, and turn off the damn phone (and file a restraining order against the crazy ex because that's not good if they keep texting you).

Writing is an internal, highly focused activity. I can have the Stanley Cup playoffs in the background, but damn it, if I'm serious about this, I won't give it more than a few glances (boy, Pittsburgh is in trouble with Sidney Crosby).

5,000 words doesn't mean just to ramble and write a bunch of all-work-and-no-play-makes-jack-a-dull-boy nonsense. It means really focusing on something, giving it your all, and cranking out every idea in your toolbox in order to improve your writing overall. The more you get out of you, the better you will be at it. That's why baseball players do batting practice, football players perform grueling minicamps (or did until the lockout) or why hockey players slapshot the goalie 45 minutes prior to the drop of the puck. You can never have enough practice, and as long as it is focused on your goals, it isn't a waste.

Quick side note - I knew a community college basketball team that practiced every day. But they didn't do anything in terms of play creation and it reminded people of open gym efforts. When they played games, they didn't win, because none of them had the focus or knew the play development as well as the other team. They were still loose, trying to perform at a pick-up game level. Those teams never win and I've seen a lot of them in my time.

Right now, it's 801 words that I've written. That means I have less than 4,200 words to go in order to make my goal, to be happy, and to prevent apathy or atrophy of my writing skills. There are a lot of people who are sitting in front of a computer at this moment, either reading this while delaying their own writing or still finding distractions while a blank screen with a blinking cursor dares them to do something.

Again, I used the old communication professor comment that our radio students received when they didn't give a great effort. 'If that's all you've got, I could get a diesel tech program student to do it.' Sounds harsh, but seriously, shouldn't a little tough love be a good thing? Dr. Laura had her time in the sun, too bad she decided to become a political mouth-piece rather than a person with actual values.

So, you are waiting for this blog entry to end. While eating that bran muffin or doing this quirky things in order to ensure that you are ready to start writing. Are you beginning to write or kidding yourself? How many of your 5,000 words are in? I'm only 4,000 away.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Taking a page from midget wrestling

I attended a midget wrestling contest last night in Post Falls, Idaho. Yes, you read that right. It was fun entertainment which spoke to a lot of the people in the crowd, many of whom probably have never heard of Hunter S. Thompson, although the craziness experienced last night would have been something he would have admired. The crowd was seventy percent women, screaming, hooting, hollering, and enjoying the night.

Now, this scene was something that you could see on television. Or watch on youtube. Why are people spending twenty dollar covers and paying about a hundred in bottle Buds between all 1,500 people there? Because the shared experience matters. Story propels the shared experience to be larger, more grand, and with increasingly better interest.

The wrestlers had their own characterizations. They had story lines which showed good versus evil, might versus right (smaller than usual... kidding). But the story lines, though quick, had enough that it got the crowd involved into it. They knew who the bad guy was. He introduced himself first, tried to pick fights with the guys, hit on the girls, did anything he could to ensure that the crowd disliked him. Then the good guy came out, did his thing, and tried his best to get the crowd behind him. Watch the intros of the good guys. They knew how to raise a crowd and make them a part of the experience.

The night included several women from the crowd getting into the ring, for a fake orgasm contest. If anyone believes that there wasn't some form of quick planning, watch the two girls at the end of the video included here. Watch them whisper, plan what to do, in order to win the competition. While this may not seem as "writing," it is part of that improv that I wrote about yesterday. They had a general idea, improv'd around it, and develop a better show than some of the wrestlers.

At the end of the day, did people care? Yes, I am willing to say that a lot of people wanted to see it again. Because it was a show. I don't believe that it is simply enough to write a good story. You have to have people want to read it again. For American literature, it has been the cop-out of academia to take pride that people do not want to read a book in mass, or that it is difficult reading that people only get through once.

What exactly is the point of that? We are in the entertainment business. Some may chose to attempt an excuse for why their work is only respected by the few. But that doesn't hold water with me. I want to be like the midget wrestling last night. A form of entertainment people beg to watch over and over again.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Plot Structure, Writing, and Ebook Publishing with Intent

Piecing together a good story is hard work. A lot of writers leave sections of their books dull and drab, with extraneous information that really doesn't move. And you want to have your story move.

Here is my method. It works for me, may work for you, or may not (then you are screwed to find your own method).


George is cheating on his wife with Monica, her husband surprises them, shoots himself but makes it look like George and Monica committed murder.
Monica starts to panic. George sits there, unsure what to do. Monica starts to call 911, George tells her "No, they'll think we did it."
George and Monica move dead husband's body, where they are surprised by a neighbor coming over to borrow lawn tools. They are unsure if he saw anything, but the worry of being found out is too much.
George goes home to be with his wife, doesn't take calls from Monica on his cell. She goes over to the neighbor's house to investigate what he saw, ends up poisoning him to prevent anyone from talking.

You see where this is going, right? I am building a lot of story components which will go into one segment or chapter. I do the same with every chapter, then build them out from there. Some of the segments won't work (I have no idea whether the neighbor would just be poisoned by Monica or if it would turn into a knock-out, drag-out fight that ends up with him being dead.

It does create tense. Who knows what? Can George trust Monica now that she has killed someone? Doesn't he just want to go back to his regular life with his wife and forget her issues ever happened? Perhaps he wants to tell the police, and she keeps resisting his logic that they can tell its a suicide (now that they've moved the body, they've done enough to create suspicion for them).

These components create an atmosphere of tension. Several books appear to lack any tension, even though they are good ideas.

Tension is what builds story. Without it, the lives of the characters involved are dull, boring. As one of my old professor's used to say, "listen, if that's the best a creative person like you can do, I can get some untalented guy from the diesel tech program to do it."

Words to live by, and he wasn't even talking about writing. But it holds true to what a writer is supposed to be doing. If the best you can do is something that anyone, especially a person without your skill-set can accomplish, then what makes you unique or the right person for the job?

I know a lot of people who enjoy the idea of being a comedian. They don't like the work involved. They worry about getting up on stage, talking in front of people they don't know. The worst is that they have to write, develop and hone their skills in private. There are some who choose to grab their jokes off the internet (because the jokes are winners) rather than create their own jokes and have to handle silence if people don't think they are funny.

That is the same with creative writing. It takes a lot of hard work, ideas that are garbage that you believe are fantastic that you will spend hours, days, weeks, months, years on. And even though they suck as ideas that you will eventually have to scrap, it is the bottom-out process of understanding how to develop a really good story that will separate you.

That's why I am not afraid of the ebook revolution. Thousands upon thousands will publish one crappy ebook in their lifetime. But it is the ability to separate yourself, by developing a good story, by creating memorable characters, and writing more than that one story which will separate you from the rest. If all you have in you is one story, you will not be a great writer. It is the nine hundredth story that you write, after you have decided to do it for yourself and keep your day job, that will make you greater than any of the rest.

It is not about selling a bunch of ebooks from one idea. It is about building following. Getting readership. I don't expect there to always be a million hits on this blog. In fact, the idea behind this blog was to improve my writing. Every single word I write has to be straight-forward, without it being part of a short story. I have to get up every day, think about what I want to write about, and even then, my brain pushes forth ideas during the writing process which I never would have considered. If this blog didn't exist, perhaps my writing would have not be improving as much as I believe it is.

And writing about 5,000 words a day helps too. It increases how to think about a subject. When I started this blog entry, I had a small idea that I thought would last about 200 words. Instead, I am already crossing the 1,000 word mark. That's important because the ideas set forth have become a free-flow process that would not have existed if I wrote only what I planned to and didn't build from that.

Comedians have straight material that they write, then they improv around it on stage (sometimes they keep that material, sometimes they blank and have to beg anyone watching to tell them what they said). Live performance is a tough gig. Usually people are heckling, talking crap to you (whether you are on stage or even back stage). Consider how easy it is to sit, write a story, and not have to be verbally abused (however, the internet comments that people leave are basically pot-shots from guys who would get decked in person).

It's all up to what you want to put into it. Writing happens to be one of the last elite businesses. Sure, anyone can write a decent enough story as an ebook and have it published, but to create something compelling enough that people want to pay for it and whatever else you have written, now that is what truly separates writers from the pretenders.