I found myself having to reread William Faulkner's advice. He says, simply, that writers should write from the soul - the heart - of such things as "compassion and sacrifice and endurance." He spoke of universal truths. An idealist, I am constantly moved by his words. I recently read a review of the Academy Awards ceremony and it pointed to a "meanness" attitude of irony and sarcasm pervading among youth today. The Awards criticism derived from the way women's boobs were spoofed and underlined the view that those actresses were all "working women," working under a still male-ruled Hollywood compact. It should have reflected or been the attitude of those of my generation who had felt the repercussions of the walks on Pettus Bridge or who had protested war. But what bothers me more is the political and social arena, where it has now simply become a crime to use government funds for job programs or to relieve what I call jet-ski burdens upon the poor. Indeed, "poor" and "helping hand" have become outmoded terms lost on the outstretched hands of a tall, marbled lady near Ellis Island.
Hence, I must be more practiced and work to improve my style and to avoid the rush of trying to set things right. It will take time to put out old ideas as new ones and have them settle in people's minds. It is not right what is happening and I have plenty of notes on "structures" of stories. I must learn to take my time and rewrite them in a proper style to relieve and set forth the passions in my heart.
I have just read through a thread on developing characters and am suddenly struck with an idea of elaborating here some thoughts. Look at movies. I now use movies to help me develop the writing craft. I looked at the way Jennifer Lawrence expressed her character Tiffany in the five minute interchange she had with Bradley Cooper's Pat in Silver Linings Playbook. She essentially did it by quickly telling a remarkable story of how the character she was portraying actually suffered a breakdown by having sex with 11 members in her office. Outside the movie, one would not think of how unbelievable such an activity was. But she made it work. I would have to look at the script for any particular direction that was provided. Eventually we learn that the death of her husband led to such supposed activity. We find out quickly, in a few sentences, that she had refused sex to her husband a month or so before his accidental death. (Indeed, she was a woman who found out she didn't want to have children - that was quickly stated, too) And the death itself was rather unremarkable and expressed minimally - a car hit him as he stopped to help a disabled passenger on "highway 76." These were quick sketches that told a lot. How would a writer describe the line of slaves in the opening scene in Django? Or take a look at Amour. Certainly there are subtle shifts of character development as Emmanuelle Riva's Anne becomes sicker and sicker. I challenge myself and ask how would a writer describe such changes. I distinctly noted a scene in which the husband character suddenly started limping.
When I write my stories, I write them with movie script in mind. I have a long way to go toward reaching the required skills. In a recent story, I described the ma from the view of the 11-year-old daughter as "stupid." Part of the idea came from an important online dialogue I had with another writer after reading his novel in which the female character was unremarkable and did not like to have "intellectual" conversations. I didn't really know what that meant. But I guess it covered such discussions as news. I noted that (in the novel) the woman worked well with and really loved children. I must be careful in this territory, but frankly there are people like that and I have known and respected a few. The "respect" is important simply because I don't want people to be involved in lots of political affairs and I say this coming from a rather activist life. I want to know that people are living, what, wholesome, healthy and entertaining lives. Shoots, they could sit in front of the TV all day. Of course, the other part of me yearns for so-called intellectual discussions, but that's not the point of this. That's subject to another blog. Perhaps I will promote some value or thought of Whitman who seem to view all people sparkling leaves of grass. The writer should be able to take each of those sparkles and with a quick sentence or two, enrich us by describing their lives.
"It was only after this that Lisa became a nuisance client." That's the way mystery writer (of Lincoln Lawyer fame) described one of his protagonists in the book I just finished The Fifth Witness. The book is excellent and I am studying it as an aide to a detective story I must rewrite. An excellent writer, I close with it here to remark the best study for character development is, ultimately, through reading other writers.
I have just posted my first short story here and hope I can get some constructive or even destructive comments. My goal is to by summer time write eight stores, enough for my first book collection. I am working on five so far. I list them here, if only for my self-organizing benefit.
1. Blue Jeans Love
This is finished and requires a heavy editing process.
2. Detective story
I got to half of this project and then realized there was a confusion of clues. The only way to address the problem is, my god, a complete rethinking and rewrite. But the story, to me, is exciting and moves quick.
3. PTSD Story with Religious Theme
This was written as a challenge and there's no real religious theme other than a frayed copy of St. Augustine's Confessions that appears here and there. This story is nearly finished.
4. Small Town Love Story
Funny, I've almost forgotten this one. I intend it to be a quaint story of small town love. It's funny the way it starts, reminding me of Wilder's Our Town and especially the music Aaron Copland wrote for it. This is a story where I've completed the first theme and then found another completely different theme arising. Strange how it happens, but it means a whole new series of research and, as well, compassion for another character who I at first had no reason to support, defend or develop.
6. Strange Occurrence at the Mariposa Art Museum
This is a fun story where the characters become real from paintings of Henry VIII and Catherine the Great of Russia. They participate in a scheme with man and woman security guards. It's about half done.
7. Lindsey and Bernard
I've just posted it here. I am presently figuring out the direction of this story. I am challenged with finding an ending for it and getting there.
I have some kind of science fiction story I wrote for a contest about a year and a half ago. I think I will take another look at it. It will make my collection eight stories. The only thing is that looking at some of the stories, I am certain they could be further developed as novellas.
Meanwhile, some other long term projects include a Civil War love story and another novel. I hope to begin summarizing in this blog lessons I am learning and drawing from novelists and writers.
Separate names with a comma.