Tag Archives: Hot Spring Honeymoon

Writing Comedy…

1390611399985

It is all in the words…

After working on three novels, some 340,000 words, work that spans seven years, I’m trying to distill the essence into one hour. Someone has to do it. I spend seven years working on three novels and a reader will be done with all three in 30 hours, more or less. In some sense I am engaged in a reverse engineering operation. Plucking out pieces of literary work and making a show.

 

Show is made of routines, transitions, bits and gags. It is a line by line process. We have to account for pace. The performer has to visualize what an audience will see. You memorize, rehearse, try them, adjust them, and finally you’ll emerge out the other end. It’s called a show.

 

And since I’m basically a variety act guy, having devoted 40 years to the non-narrative show I am embarked on the paradoxically challenging effort to do the non-narrative/narrative show. Not so much a story within a story as it is a journey tangled amidst the web of storylines.

 

And that is what I’m thinking about now. How to navigate this terrain, part narrative, part non-narrative, part literary and part spoken word, I feel like I’m on the right track because I feel a degree of dread and fear. That’s good. That points the way.

Let that Sink In

Mersey Hot Spring 267AAASmall

 

Two Times as Much Fun

We do not come into this world. We come out of the world like a leaf from a tree. I like that. We are not part of the world we are of this world. We belong.

Writing long fiction is based upon everything that might be part of what happens within our lifespan. We are born and we die, in between is life. Life is where fiction comes from.

In particular I do want to know where my characters hearts are drawn. Who do they love? What is their sex life about? At least so far I’ve wanted to account for how the main characters love.

I find the economic circumstances absolutely indispensable. Where are they? What are they doing? What forces are bearing down on them?

I want there to be some place where I can allow the characters to appear and reappear. In my first novel the place turned out to be a van that the character lived and traveled in.

Characters do have a psychological framework, but I prefer to construct my characters on the basis of what they want. What shortcomings they arrive in the story with I prefer to hold gently, it is part of the human condition, the shared humanity. They are not broken and don’t need fixing. They are thirsty, hungry, or attracted to someone and want something to eat, something to drink, someone to love. That’s enough of a fix to be in right there.

Write what you know. I like this advice. We can’t know everything about what motivates someone to act. We can guess that like us they may be happy or suffer. We may know they want or can’t have something no matter what they do.

And perhaps finally there is a lot of fun to be found in putting characters into situations that an author might imagine and finding out what they might do. How will they react to getting what they want? How will they feel about giving another character what they want? They aren’t the same thing, or are they?

A sexual farce explores reversals and revelations. Sex is next to nothing in fiction whereas seduction is nearly everything… Let that sink in.

 

 

In the Love shack

loveshack two small

 

Where Lover’s Go…

Everybody has had their eyes wide open. I knew since I was drifting the high plains town to town that we were a country in flux. That was in the ‘70’s when drifting from show to show was what a young up and coming juggling act did. I’ve seen the belly of this beast for forty years. We’ve been sold a bill of goods peeps. The very serious people in charge have backed the armored truck up to the vault and they’re getting ready to pull away with what is left. It isn’t even remotely plausible to suggest that inequality is simply happening by some kind of accident. Inequality is policy. Cut the taxes, offshore the jobs, cut support for education, wipe the unions out… I don’t think I need to go on. We are losing the fight to preserve our democracy and who knew we were going to have to fight bankers and oilmen and their astro-turfed pseudo grassroots think tanked con-artists. But, here we are and you know what they say about what you should do when you find yourself digging a hole? Let me end todays thought with this idea. The tragedy is realizing that this happening and doing nothing, the comedy is chopping the greedy muck-a-mucks back down to size. Serious business is always at the root of comedy.

Trouble in Nevada

Fletch's cabin small

Hot Spring Honeymoon

Just Enough Trouble to Call it Fun

Life imitates art. The recent standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and Clive Bundy is a more radicalized version of the politics I hinted at in Hot Spring Honeymoon. The free grazer movement depends upon more magical thinking than my character Garrett Harwood. My character is more or less disposed to free trade, less regulation and lower taxes. He’s a privatizer type and wants everything left to the private sector. He’s plenty angry but he influences things by means other than at the end of the barrel of a gun. I’m heartened by what I’ve heard on talk radio shows. Most folk as I’d anticipated prefer to see their community remain whole and healthy. People want their freedom but they’d prefer working from within the law. Garrett Harwood is a businessman and his temper while hot runs more or less to the civilized side of the road. He is not a secessionist and not a member of a militia. We do have a bulldozer in the book. There is also talk of “second amendment remedies,” but for reasons of comedy my villain only needed to quarrel and fistfight. I wanted a more nuanced conflict than this latest headline would allow. I prefer a man that still believes in democracy and capitalism. Once you draw down to the level of wanting everything your way and not any other way you have left the room of reason and are floating around a few French fries short of a happy meal…


Walking into the New Year

???????????????????????????????Hawaii for the last two weeks. Editing and organizing all sorts of various details to this journey in publishing and authoring. Here a steep footpath up the side of a North Shore O’ahu trail for purposes of self-revival. Hot Spring Honeymoon’s manuscript is on schedule. We’ve been working on three elements: first physical descriptions of characters, second physical descriptions of the town the story is set in and last cognitive and dialogue clues to the state of mind of our most important lover. Because so much effort has been put into the comedy I have tried to not dilute this aspect of the novel in favor of more narrative or description. I’ve tried to remain bare boned and fast paced. It is a tricky balancing act. Ultimate proofing of such an approach is how many can access the book, start and stay with it and finish.

Here at the end of 2013 I could not be more satisfied with the journey. It has been amazing.

 

No, But We Are Working On Bringing This Book into the World

Flyer 2A

Editors are editing, the author is revising, but it is coming soon…

There is a very intricate process to preparing a manuscript on its journey into the world. In the beginning there is the outline. Next come’s the first swing at a chapter. I prefer to polish and revise and balance that process with the initial composing. The early manuscript is always raw and the sentences always ask to be smoothed, but in this initial outburst we are looking for life, for the blood and sweat and tears of the thing to be in the work. Finding the comedy in a scene is sheer time at the desk. You may or may not find it, but seldom does it leap out on first swing of the bat. It seems to come when the moment allows slipping out when least expecting it. Here is a glimpse at a mockup of a flyer style card I’ll hand out.

Place and Person

Catalina

 

Fletcher McCrea looked out over the vast Great Basin Desert. His mind was spinning. He was in the tightest corner he’d ever bumbled into. After Glenna left him he set off on foot. Together with Bambalina he walked off the mountain. He needed his time. He had to gather his thoughts, come to grips with the Gordian knot he’d let come untied. He figured what he needed was a good long soak.