Saturday, March 16, 2013

Port Templar- Status

     For the last three years I have written my Blog: French Sojourn. It is the chronicling of our lives, from selling our house in California and the move to Southwest France. A majority of the observations deal with the interactions with our new community, and the renovation of the 100 year old farmhouse. 
      I have always really enjoyed writing, although not having really any formal schooling in it. Yeah, I had the high school stuff, then went on to study Architecture. My career was in the supervision of mega estates in Los Angeles. (Malibu, Brentwood, and Beverly Hills)
      In my spare time I have been working on a story for the last few years.  The first two years I had written 23,000 words....snails pace. This last year it started to pick up, I was up to 40,000. That was quite a few months ago. Lately the story has been really easy to tie together. 
     Overall, the premise was a difficult one, then the characters had a mutiny and I started letting them react to obstacles. Then I started polishing up my query letter and discovered a voice, not there before. I mentioned Query Shark previously, Janet Reid's blog guessed it Query Letters. 
     So armed with this, (I was up to 55,000 words) I re-evaluated the plot and characters involved and had a clean house. I went back, reworked the opening. I eliminated about 10,000 words, and returned to go. I was real fortunate as I have the beginning  middle, and ending all charted out.
     I'm now at 83,000 words out of 93,000-96,000 words completed. I have all the interactions charted, and list of characters. ( 29 people at last count, all levels, there are probably 10 main ones, 8 mid level and the others are background depth.) 
     I'm shooting to have it finished within three months. After having incorporated the six beta readers input  while I am going over it with a fine tooth comb. (printed and marked up again) 
     If all goes as planned I want to send out one query letter. 
     It's all conjecture at this point, but I honestly feel it's a fun story
 that a reader would enjoy.
      Possibly next month I will post an excerpt from it.

     Cheers Hank 

Update; I sent out the Query Letter to Query shark, it will be interesting to see if there any nibbles.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

     Here's a few more 100 word exercises. I try to think of a situation and then capture it's essence, then trim it down.

I think I also post these to get in the habit of letting what I write, be seen.

As opposed to be obscene?

Example 5:

As the shadows grow longer in my life, I still remember that summer night.

It was my second season at the Catskills, and I had my first line to say. I must have written it 70 times, and said it 300 times aloud.

I was edgy, but I nailed it, clear voice, eyes bright and strong posture. It was magic.
“Hello my name is Oliver; I will be refilling your water glasses this evening.”

Time passes, memories cloud, but I still can feel the electricity of that night.

Why I bet there wasn't a dry mouth in the house.

Example 6:

“Heads up Tommy, that car ain’t got its lights on."

“Yeah, I see it.”

“Good Christ I knew it.”  He dials a number on his cell. "It’s Junior, behind yah… turn your goddamn headlights on, and turn that fuckin music down, you been drinkin?..... You’re drivin like a school of mackerel ….you get that alignment done like I said?”

“She drinkin?”

“Shut up….No, not you!…Some Maine trooper pulls you over, your probation officers gonna hear about it, you know?

“She goin too?”

“Shut up,…… You goin to happy hour at Rusty’s?”

“She goin?”

“Just drive, ……O.K. see ya there Ma.”

Example 7:

Nika and Mir, her reeker rat reached the rocks.
The reports of five shots echoed.

“Ha, gonna take more than that to stop a sand shark.”

She opened her rucksack and took out the gel pack claymore, then placed it in the sand.
Mir raced around her, scenting the sand.

Nika patted the sand five times and the sand shark approached.
She placed her hand in the shark’s secondary mouth and calmed the shark.

With her right hand she activated the gel cap, the shark although placated by Nika’s pulse knew she was trapped as the gel coat took hold.

     Anyway, this is what I do for fun. Cheers Hank

Friday, March 1, 2013

      Since I am in the final stages of the old French farmhouse renovation, I have time to work on dialog while working. I am plastering right now so I create small bits of dialog, while troweling. Then when I take a break I go to my laptop and write them down, and trim them to 100 words, like a flash fiction contest. It's kind of like mental gymnastics. 

     Below are four recent examples, just for a laugh. I have to consider these exercises as work, if I am to improve my untutored writing.

Sample One:

“Patrolman Vincenzo, callbox k-12……
“Hey Penny it’s Vinnie…. send a meatwagon to Madam Changs, found Sully,,,Detective Sullivan.”
“Nah, lead poisoning, both barrels. A guy working second floor at the nookie factory chased me down.”
“No eyewitnesses. “
“Yeah, probably…..I said to him…”Sully what you said was wrong, askin the ma if she wanted him well done or charred.”
“Yeah, write it up. I’ll be back in an hour.”
He heard the old rusty Dodge sedan parked in the alley start up and drive towards him slowly.
The old lady in the back wearing black, was it Sacco’s or Vanzetti’s ma?”

Ferdinando Nicola Sacco (April 22, 1891 – August 23, 1927) and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (June 11, 1888 – August 23, 1927

Sample Two:

“Tommy, whatta we got?”
“Body on the bank, lead poisoning. Our boys on the launch; fishing with a hook line.”
“Whats Lulu doin here Tommy?”
“Witness, waitin for you.”
“Tommy I know your old man took off and yer ma died that winter, and Lulu raised you and your kid sister, but she’s hard now. You know how she made her money.”
“Nah, she’s got a good heart.”
“Tommy look at her with your eyes, not your heart, she’s filing her nails while they’re draggin the lake. Gimme your piece and your plant gun….”
Blam! Blam
Blam! Blam!
“Sorry Tommy”.

Excerpt from Watching The Detectives. Elvis Costello

Sample Three:

“Did I tell you my son wants to be a writer?, why he’s got a way with words.”
            “No, he’s got away with crime…all his life.”
            “Oh, he’s sharp.”
            “He comes from grifters; all you write is bad checks. He ain’t the next Frank Hemingway.”
            “If a man’s Ernest, he’s gotta be frank. Anyway how’s he gonna write “A clean well-lighted place” in a dark dank six by six cold concrete cell? By the time he’s out of the penitentiary, he’ll be an old man; maybe he could go fishin and write about that. Like that Frank did.”

Sample Four:

            “Hey Albert, you heard Doreen took off with my brother, Charlie.”
            “Yep, she always was practical.”
            “How do you mean.”
            “Well, she’ll still use your grandma’s ring, and the weddin plates, same last initial.”
            “Guess I never thought of that.”
            “Well, brighten up, she got the itchy mattress sickness.”
            “How’s that supposed to help me.”
            “Well, the only other guy in town with the same first initial in his last name is Lonnie, the bag boy over ta Stop and Shop.”
            “What about it?”
            “Whats your son’s name?”
            “Lonnie; after my grandpa.”
            “Think about it.”
“She always was practical.”