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Thursday, April 19, 2018

What keeps you turning the PAGE? _ A TO Z



“There is no terror in the bang,
 only in the anticipation of it.” 
- Alfred Hitchcock

Ghost of Alfred Hitchcock here

Twenty-eight of my movies were derived from novels.  

You might think of that as "Dial L for Literature."

I so enjoyed the works of British author Daphne Du Maurier, 

I based three of my films on two of her novels,  

Jamaica Inn and Rebecca and one short story, The Birds.

Too many look at a French novelist's name and imagine men at street cafes, 

wearing berets, smoking French cigarettes, and staring off into the distance 

as if searching for that abyss of which Sartre and Nietzsche wrote.

Please do rise above that provinciality and dare her work.  

You will be rewarded with fine storytelling.

GOOD STORYTELLING

It can all be reduced to one word:

SUSPENSE 

The reader fears that something terrible is going to happen to a character for whom she has grown to care.

 Mystery is the hook.  Yet, mystery is an intellectual process. 

 Suspense is essentially an emotional one.


A DIFFERENT WOLF

Fear isn't so difficult to understand. After all, weren't we all frightened as children? 

Nothing has changed since Little Red Riding Hood faced the big bad wolf. 

What frightens us today is exactly the same sort of thing that frightened us yesterday. 

It's just a different wolf

This fright complex is rooted in every individual.


HOW TO BIRTH EMPATHY

The fear of being helpless in face of danger is universal and so can evoke empathy in the reader.

Take this  scene - 

A young girl gasping for breath inside an oxygen tent.  

She speaks to the icily beautiful woman standing by the oxygen pump.

"I will never call you mother.  You've fooled everyone else.  But not me."

The cool blonde smiles slightly as the young girl continues.

"Deep inside you there is someone terrible that no one else knows about."

The step-mother leans forward as she slowly turns off the oxygen and smiles wider.

"Now, I have everyone fooled."

As a good story-teller you will, of course, come up with a realistic way for which the young girl to survive.

But from that moment on, the reader will be bonded to your heroine. 


WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

If you can keep the reader asking that question at the end of every page, 

you have succeeded in creating suspense.

It is the story-teller's primary function to create a living emotion.  

His secondary function is to sustain it.



What many fledgling authors do not understand is 

that the more successful your villain is, the more successful your novel will be.

Your antagonist must win at every turn.

Like a dinosaur caught in a tar pit, 

your protagonist must sink deeper into the trap with each attempt to escape it.

Your antagonist must be frustratingly urbane, intelligent,  resourceful, 

able to mingle with her victim's associates without arousing suspicion. 



If you craft your antagonist well enough, many of your readers will fantasize being him or her.

A woman who spends all day washing and cooking and ironing 

doesn't want  to watch a film or read a novel about a woman who spends all day washing and cooking and ironing.


I hope this has helped in some small way.

Now, I must be off.

I see the ghost of Lovecraft drifting my way,
and I scare so easily. 


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A TO Z _ There can be only ONE



"Don’t ever imitate anybody. 
All style is,
is the awkwardness of a writer 
in stating a fact.
 If you have a way of your own, 
you are fortunate, 
but if you try to write 
like somebody else, 
you’ll have the awkwardness 
of the other writer
 as well as your own." 
- Ernest Hemingway

Ghost of Hemingway here again.

If you want to succeed as a writer, you must be original.

You can only be a second-rate copy, 

but you can develop into a first-rate you 

if you persist in crafting your own style.

But you must persist. 


There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man.

True nobility lies in being superior 
to your former self.

Be succinct. 

 Big emotions are not created by big words.

Write the very best you can at the moment.  

If you do not, you will destroy what talent you have.

If you find yourself dissatisfied with what you have written, fix it if you can.

But train yourself not to worry.  Worry never fixed anything.

Still reading?  

Start writing!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Just because you know my NAME _ A TO Z




"If I'm gonna tell a real story,
I'm gonna start with my name."
 - Kendrick Lamar

"Call me Ishmael."
 - Herman Melville 

"It ain't what they call you.
It's what you answer to."
 - W.C. Fields

How important do you think characters names are in your writing?

Think "Wesley" versus "Eric."  

What images come to your mind about the personalities of those two men?

Take Darth Vader.

Darth as in dark.  Vader as in the variation of the German "Vater" (father.)  

Dark Father.

How do you choose the names of your characters in your novels?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A TO Z _ Bathing in MYSTERY and WEP post


 

"We are bathing in mystery and confusion 
on many subjects, 
and I think that 
will always be our destiny. 
The universe will always 
be much richer 
than our ability to understand it.” 
- Carl Sagan

Ghost of Carl Sagan here

We are an infinitesimal part of the universe becoming aware of itself.

The "me" that you and I are took 13.7 billion years to develop ... 

as science now believes.

Yet, science, like time and space, is fluid ... 

so who knows what science will believe next decade or next century?

We are an indication of what hydrogen atoms can do, of how to co-exist with the unknown.

The quest for answers of how to do so birthed folklore, myth, and superstition.

We seem to be always on the verge of finding answers to how we came  to be.

But like the horizon, 

those answers always tease us by being just out of reach eternally.

But that quest has taken us so far and will take us farther if only we find the courage to continue.


That first photo of the earth taken from the moon ...

firstly, it gave us the sense that we are afloat in the vast sea of space

and second, the realization that the future of this tiny world depends solely upon us.


We must cut off the moorings to common sense to get farther.

We navigate the world by our common-sense perception, 

but that perception has blinded us to reality again and again. 

We have mistaken our sensorial intuitions for facts of the universe.

 For millennia, we held wrong beliefs about Earth’s shape, motion, and position, 

because it feels flat and static beneath our feet, and central to the order of the cosmos. 

We have mistrusted processes and phenomena 

beyond the boundaries of what we can touch and feel with our limited senses.

From the development of life, 

which unfolds on scales of time too vast to be visible within a human lifetime, 

to quantum mechanics, 

which operates on subatomic scales imperceptible and almost inconceivable to the human observer.


 We have to be very careful not to impose our hopes and desires on the cosmos,

 but instead, in the scientific tradition and with the most open mind possible,

 see what the cosmos is saying to us.

And that means trusting our curiosity to ask WHAT IF? 

as often as possible and being brave enough to follow where that question leads. 



Saturday, April 14, 2018

A TO Z _ Getting LOST



Ghost of Gertrude Stein here

I was a den mother of sorts to the most famous of the lost generation writers,

who excelled in their prose and failed in life.

Perhaps it was because they stumbled so badly in the war 

or in their struggle to get published that they grew too focused on their steps.

Everybody knows if you are too careful.

 You are so occupied in being careful that you are sure to stumble over something.



One must dare to be happy, 

knowing that we are always the same age on the inside but must learn to be wiser than that.

 After all everybody, that is, everybody who writes

is interested in living inside themselves in order to tell what is inside themselves. 

That is why writers have to have two countries, 

the one where they belong and the one in which they live really. 

The second one is romantic, is separate from themselves, it is not real but it is really there.

Your truth will come to you if you but let it come.


 If the communication is perfect, 

the words have life, 

and that is all there is to good writing, 

putting down on the paper words 

which dance and weep and make love and fight and kiss and perform miracles.


And while you pursue your dream, 

learn from my Lost Generation 

and do not let it become the nightmare of those closest to you.

Friday, April 13, 2018

A TO Z _ KNIFE or scapel?



"The difference between the almost right word 
and the right word 
is really a large matter—'
tis the difference between 
the lightning-bug and the lightning."
 - Mark Twain




Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself. 

But we authors are trapped into using mere words.

 Words realize nothing, verify nothing to you, 

unless you have suffered in your own person the thing which the words try to describe.


It is always the way; 

words will answer as long as it is only a person's neighbor who is in trouble, 

but when that person gets into trouble himself, it is time that the King rise up and do something.

 The right word may be effective, 

but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.

So children, remember that when you write dialogue. 

And do bring a bit of wit and humor to the proceedings.

Wit and Humor

--if any difference it is in duration--

lightning and electric light. 

Same material, apparently; but one is vivid, brief, and can do damage--

the other fools along and enjoys the elaboration.

I hope you've enjoyed my words and that they were more scalpels than knives!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A TO Z _ JENUINE


 

GENUINE

“All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. 
To be natural is to be obvious, 
and to be obvious is to be inartistic.” 
- Oscar Wilde

Ghost of Mark Twain here

Old Oscar was just as off the mark with that quote as is my spelling of genuine.

Now, I may use a unique spelling of a word sometimes 

but only to make a point as with "Jenuine."


In fact, I pity the fellow who has to create a dialect or paraphrase the dictionary to get laughs.

I can't spell, but I have never stooped to spell cat with a 'k' to get at your funny bone. 

I love a drink, but I never encouraged drunkenness by harping on its alleged funny side.


I made the above postcard to ridicule humanity, but darn it all

if politicians, past and present, took me seriously.

Like the teddy bear who heralds this post obviously imagining himself 

Diogenes of Sinope, the Greek Cynic philosopher 

best known for holding a lantern  to the faces of the citizens of Athens, 

claiming he was searching for an honest man.


Each reader searches the book before him to see if it is "true" enough to life 

to allow him or her to walk its pages believing the adventure presented to him.

Each person's speech springs from where and who he has been.

So for mercy's sake do not have all your characters speak the same!

Let your rug-rats talk like children not like you.

But be cautious with your truth.


An injurious truth has no merit over an injurious lie. 

Neither should ever be uttered. 

The man who speaks an injurious truth, lest his soul be not saved if he do otherwise,

 should reflect that that sort of a soul is not strictly worth saving.


 But don't let me worry you overmuch.

Language is a treacherous thing, a most unsure vehicle,

 and it can seldom arrange descriptive words in such a way that they will not inflate the facts -- 

by help of the reader's imagination, 

 which is always ready to take a hand and work for nothing, 

and do the bulk of it at that.