Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Troubling Scenes

July 9, 2013

“John. . . ,” I said, and checked to see his reaction to my familiarity. Saw nothing more than a hint of a smile. “I want to thank you for the help you’ve given me.”

He nodded. A little more smile this time. “Come on, sonny, out with it.”

I’ve written a scene and something about it. . .” I closed my eyes and shook my head as I remembered my reaction when I read and reread the words. “Something about it doesn’t ring right. And before you say anything, I know I should keep charging forward. But I can’t help it—my mind goes back there. What do I do?”

“It’s happened to me more times than you can imagine. That scene in the boxcar in Grapes of Wrath. Part of what I wrote never made it to print. Like you say, it didn’t ring right.”

I nodded. “I understand the need to edit and tighten. This is a whole scene. Grapes wouldn’t have been right without the boxcar scene.”

“True.” He cupped his chin between thumb and forefinger. “Hmm. For your problem. . . If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

Here’s the link to my Facebook page-- https://www.facebook.com/bobthestoryman

Until next time, that’s it from The Storyman ….

Monday, July 1, 2013

Who do I write for?

July 1, 2013

“Mister Steinbeck,” I said, “I’ve been trying to practice what you said about not re-writing on that first draft for the past few weeks. What’s on the paper isn’t as pretty as I’d like to see, but the story is coming together so fast I’m having a difficult time getting it down.”

“It’s John, Sonny. Never did go much for formality. What do you mean it’s not pretty?”

“I have misspelled words, missing action and speech tags. Sometimes I know a beat should be there for balance and flow. I type BEAT in caps and fly on with the narrative or dialogue.

“Don’t worry about it. You’ll fix all those things the next time around, or the next.”

“Or the next?”

He laughed. “That, too.”

“I hope you have more advice for me.”

“Hmmmm.” He pursed his lips. Let’s see. . . How about this? Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.”

“Thank you.” Now who should that one person audience be?

Until next time, that’s it from The Storyman ….

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Waking up after a long sleep

I’ve shook my head and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes.

"About time you woke up, lad.”

I stared at the man who looked at me with a piercing gaze. Oval face, prominent nose, hair combed straight back, a neatly trimmed Van-Dyke beard. “How did I. . . Who are. . .”

“Make up your mind, lad.”

“Let’s start with the first question. How long have I been here—sleeping?”

“A long while. I haven’t been here all the time, but I’d guess a couple of years—maybe more. What are you doing down here with the likes of us?”

I think I figured out the identity of the man. “You wrote some of my favorite novels. “East of Eden”, for instance.”

He gave me a small nod.

“Any advice about writing for a neophyte like me?”

He stroked his chin a moment. “Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.”

Interesting thought – to re-write while doing that first draft could be an excuse for not going on. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

Until next, time, that’s it from The Storyman. . .