Showing posts with label O'Neil De Noux. Show all posts
Showing posts with label O'Neil De Noux. Show all posts

16 April 2021

More About Setting


Still trying to come up with something new to say about writing that I haven't put up here on SleuthSayers.

When I read Jim Winter's post "A Sense of Setting" (April 9, 2021), I went back and saw I had posted about setting back in January 2018. Figured we have some new followers, so I want to say it again because setting is so important in fiction. Here's what I previously posted –

I was fortunate to learn early from a panel of editors:

Setting is the fictional element which most quickly distinguishes the professional writer from the beginner.

Setting is not just the name of a place or time period, it is the feeling of the place and time period. It includes all conditions – region, geography, neighborhood, buildings, interiors, climate, time of day, season of year.

Setting should appear near the beginning of a novel or story and remain throughout by answering the questions WHERE and WHEN. By using sensory details, the writer can flesh out a setting: the visual, smells, sounds, taste, feeling of atmosphere. All five sense sould be used in describing the little things – what a character sees, hears, feels, tastes and smells.

Every story takes place somewhere. Setting is more than a backdrop, it creates mood, tone and can help establish the theme of a work of fiction. Like charaters, it plays an important role in a story. Writers should not neglect setting.

When establishing a setting, get the details correct. You can't have azaleas blooming in Louisiana in December. In New Orleans, the weather is an important part of setting. We have only two seasons – STEAMY HOT (spring, summer and autumn). WET COLD (winter). There are only two mild days at the beginning of spring and two mild days at the end of autumn. Tennessee Williams said these were the only good days to be outside in New Orleans.

Go to the place you set your story (or a place like it if your setting is fictional place). Go and watch, listen, take notes. It's helped me before.

Azalea bush
Azalea bush in Louisiana, March 2021

NOTE: Do not put too much setting description in your fiction. It should not read like a travelogue.

www.oneildenoux.com

26 March 2021

The Zone can be elusive


In October 2017, I put up a post here entitled In The Zone, where I spoke about The Zone, a sort of Twilight Zone, a separate existence, a Zone where I wrote stories and novels with such focus the story flowed like a swollen river.

My wife bought me a T-shirt which read: Poor Listener. It had taken her a white to realize I wasn't listening to her because she talked too much, I wasn't listening because I was somewhere else. I was in The Zone.

The pandemic changed so many things, including making The Zone elusive to me for the first time. The scenes still play out. I still watch and listen to the characters but the distraction of living in fear keeps intruding. I still daydream but they are shorter and grow unfocused. At least I know it and can bear down and still write but I miss The Zone.

When I wrote my epic historical novel BATTLE KISS (320,000 words) and the follow-up USS RELENTLESS (234,000 words) I could step in and out of The Zone at will and everything was there.

The deaths (relatives, former co-workers, old friends) take a toll.

OK, the vaccines are here but every time I go out so many people, too many people, are unmasked and not following distancing protocols. It's frustrating.

So I rarely leave the house, which should help me to enter The Zone. And I do, but not as easily. The election took a lot out of me, the great anxiety fearing we were slipping into a fascist state.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I don't see it yet, but it has to be there.

The lessons I learned when I started writing have taught me how to narrow my focus and to keep writing, no matter what. I hope beginners listen to the lessons we sometimes give here on SleuthSayers. I learn something new here all the time.

Y'all take care. Gotta go Zoning.

www.oneildenoux.com

05 March 2021

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a personal inspiration


Freshman year at Loyola University in 1969, I took Photography 101 from a prof who was into Beat Generation writers (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Carr, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and others). For our final grade he asked us to do a photo essay of a poem. Any poem. He pointed to the books in his office and told us to look through them. As other students picked up Ginsberg and Patchen and Para and Rexworth, I found the collection A CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, thumbed through it and the title of poem #22 on page 37 stopped me – Johnny Nolan has a patch on his ass.


I was juiced and put together a dynamite photo essay, illustrating Ferlinghetti's images:

  • "kids chase him" – easy, I went to City Park and photographed kids running after each other.
  • "screendoor summers" – a photo of an open screen door with the sun in the sky above.
  • "through the back streets" – illustrated by a photo of Antoine Alley at night (Antoine Alley runs along the downtown side of Saint Louis Cathedral).
  • "a man laments upon a violin" – visited several jazz halls until I found a man playing a violin.
  • "a doorstep baby cries" – wasn't hard, we had a few babies in the family.
  • "a ball bounced down stairs" – I used a tennis ball and a tall staircase at Loyola's Marquette Hall.

The hardest step was how to illustrate Johnny Nolan with a patch on his ass. Never found Johnny Nolan or a lookalike but I found pair of blue jeans with a patch on the butt at a thrift store and hung them from an old clothes line.

Man, I was proud of my essay. Nice, sharp black-and-white images.

Bought a copy of A CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND and other books by Ferlinghetti and have read them so many times over the years. His poems inspired me, still do. The economy of words, the precise images.

When Hurricane Katrina ravaged our city, I lost most of my photos and negatives, including my photo essay of Johnny Nolan has a patch on his ass.

Recently, I read the poem to someone who have never read it and got teary eyed. Comes from being an old man. Comes from realizing how many things you loose in life.

"Johnn Nolan has a patch on his ass

kids chase him

thru screendoor summers ..."

Lawrence Ferlinghetti died on February, 22, 2021. He was 101 years old.

www.oneildenoux.com

12 February 2021

The Covid-19 Year


2020 and the beginning of 2021 in review.

The damn Cover-19 Year. I've been on lockdown (except for occasional armed excursions to grocery stories and doctor's offices). Armed with mask and face shield and avoiding the non-maskers. Got a lot of writing and reading done in my home office.

Looking back, I wrote one and a half novels in 2020. Wrote six short stories. Had one novel published. Had five original short stories published and two stories reprinted. Sold four new stories. One of my stories was awarded the Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Award for Best Private Eye Short Story.

It was a good year for my writing but Covid-19 overshadowed everything. A number of my former police buddies succumbed to it, so did a few of their wives. We're all up in age. Other friends have died that horrible death as well.

On the blog front today, I have nothing.

I'm tapped out of writing advice for the moment. I looked back at my previous postings on SleuthSayers and think I've said just about everything I know about writing. But I could be wrong. I've been wrong before. But for the moment, I'm tapped out.

Gave y'all the one about the dead woodpecker and the riverfront expressway and the confederate statues (which I'm still catching flak over). I did one on cemeteries and American police and a number about other writers and books by other writers.

On the ficion side, I just finished writing a novel and already started on a short story with another novel waiting impatiently to be written. Wait, I still have to do the final read-through of the novel set to be published in spring. So I'm busy. It's a process.

Maybe, by writing so much fiction, my mind doesn't have room at the moment to write a piece of non-fiction, a blog. So I'll fudge along and try to think of something for the future. The way my mind works at the moment is – if I think about something to write, it defaults to fiction.

Oh, I just thought of something to mention. My dislike of social media. Not all social media, just the mundane, repititious junk (like I care what someone's birthday cake looks like). There I go. I'm being a jerk. That might be the most important thing in that person's life at the moment. Just scroll down and GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA and write or read or go around and pet all the cats (which annoys most of them as they are sleeping).

Hey, I do have a piece of advice for beginning writers.

Daydream. Daydream and turn your daydreams into stories. This sounds trite but it works.

That's all for now. Y'all stay safe.

Old Audubon Park Zoo, New Orleans, ©1976 O'Neil De Noux

www.oneildenoux.com


22 January 2021

Still Collecting Names


This writer has lifted character names from sidewalks, signs, name tags in grocery stores, the Olympics, and from live television. There's a new source of names for villains and other despicable characters – the Trump Insurrection.

Just as the bad year 2020 was behind us, we started 2021 with more Americans dying each week in a pandemic many still believe is a hoax – "It's just like the flu." And an insurrection. As the investigations continue, the names of people who desecrated the US Capitol building in an attempt to disrupt the orderly transition of power, their names surface.

I have a NAMES document on my computer where I collect names for characters in my fiction. Lot of names of good people to use and many names of bad people from Nazis to murderers and now – insurrectionists. NOTE: I never use their full name so as not to further display their name so I switch first and last names but despicable is despicable.

NOTE: The FBI's postings seeking information for Assault on Federal Officers and Violence at the United States Capitol draws me to faces. So far I've recognized none of my relatives or friends.

flag
Flag above the Battle of New Orleans, Chalmette, Louisiana

I've more names of good people to use than bad.

I've used names of friends after asking them, never using their full name. Most like it and brag about it.  I have a writer friend whose name will remain confidential who has used the last names of his three wives for villains many times.

I've named a few characters from intersections. Julia Street intersects Carondelet in the New Orleans CBD, hence the character Julia Carondelet.Robertson intersects Bartholomew so we have a Bartholomew Robertson. Dante Street intersects Joseph Street, so we have a Joe Dante.

Naming characters is a ritual I relish. I work hard at it. I believe nearly every other writer does as well. Or they should.


That's all for now.

Stay safe, everyone. This pandemic is far from over.

01 January 2021

Debris


Sometimes it all falls together, like debris kicked up in a sandstorm falling into the places missing in the story. Sometimes, in the middle of a novel or in the middle of writing a short story as you go along, the little nuggets, the little twists and turns of plot, the little comments of characters, the smart talk brings it all together so the story becomes neatly packaged like a Christmas gift.


Most of the time writing a short story and especially a novel, it’s like working in a rock quarry, chiseling blocks of granite into something recognizable. If you hammer long enough, if you stick to it – never give up – it’ll come. Maybe not the way you originally planned but the characters, storyline, setting, dialogue, conflict will come together.


But the debris which comes along and fills the piece with a touch of dialogue so right for the piece, a touch of unplanned drama, the brush of an eyelid against a face when they kiss, a passion which grabs you, a pain which grabs your heart because Robert Frost was right when he said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”


It works in mysteries as well as mainstream fiction.


Been noticing the debris the older I get, the more I write, like my subconscious peeking in and whispering to my fingers as I type and there it is, the debris collecting, the little nugget in the story.


Wrote a story a few months back as a Christmas present for my wife. Been doing that for the 29 years we’ve been together. Sold most of them. The one this year is the best I’ve written, maybe one of the best I’ve ever written, a mystery. We’ll see if a magazine editor or anthology editor agrees. If not, we’ll put it up on Amazon Kindle.


Back to the novel, back into the quarry. It’s coming together as well. In slow motion, like everything in 2020.


Happy New Year, everyone. 2021’s gotta be better than 2020.


No words necessary
 
 






 


www.oneildenoux.com


11 December 2020

The Selectively Social Writer


This blog is supposed to be about writing.  My last posting was about cemeteries, which we sometimes use as settings here in New Orleans, so I got away with the posting.

My wife has been buying me T-shirts with printing in front for the last few years and she manages to nail my quirks and personality traits. Her latest is the most revealing. It is me as a writer today –

"I'm not anti-social. I am selectively social. There's a difference."

Here's a sequel of sorts –

"You read my shirt. That's enough social interaction for one day."

And more – 

"Historical fiction writer: I'd find you more interesting if you were dead."

"My life is based on a true story."

"I don't like going outside. It's too PEOPLEY out there."

"First of all, NO. Second of all, NO."

"Careful, or you'll end up in my novel."

"Where ever ya go, there ya are."

"If I ignore you, will you go away?"

Harking back to my law enforcement days – 

"I speak fluent sarcasm."

"I'm not always rude and sarcastic … sometimes I'm asleep."

"It only takes one slow-walking person in the store to destroy the illusion I'm a nice person."

"I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you."

"My people skills are fine. It's my tolerance of stupidity that needs work."

"Sarcasm. The body's natural defense against stupidity."

"People who think they know everything, annoy those of us that do."

"Sometimes I wonder what happened to the people who asked me for directions."

Back to my writing life. Now that I'm retired and write full time in my home office. I take naps.

"I already want to take a nap tomorrow."

"If you love someone, let them nap."

"I have a date with my bed tonight ... and we're totally going to sleep together."

Jeffty showing me how to nap

Lastly, this one is for me, the husband –

"WARNING: Poor Listener." (illustrated below)

Which brings me back to the topic of this posting – the selectively social writer. I tell people I'm not a recluse but I play one in real life. This is why the lockdown and social distancing we're in now does not bother me. When I was young, I was social. When I was young, I went out a lot, even to church. Today I'm selectively social and a non-practicing Catholic. No need to practice. I've got it down pat.

Which is why you don't find me at high mass or many writer's gatherings. Y'all have fun. Do all the things a writer should do. I'm done. I write. That's it. I'm a selectively social writer.

That's all for now. Y'all stay safe.

www.oneildenoux.com

20 November 2020

Little Cities of the Dead


When the French colonized New Orleans in 1718, they encountered immediate problems. One was the high water table (about 12 inches), so burying bodies in the ground was not a good idea, so they built above ground cemeteries. Not uncommon in the tropical West Indies and what we call Central and South America.

Won't bore you with details. Here's a good article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historic_Cemeteries_of_New_Orleans

We cherish our cemeteries. They are beautiful and we (and tourists) take thousands of photos of them.

Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1

Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1

Police Mutual Benevolent Association tomb in Greenwood Cemetery

Greenwood Cemetery

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

Walled or Oven Tombs in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1



Two of the angels of Saint Louis Cemetery No. 3

Cypress Grove Cemetery

Cypress Grove provided a nice book cover

Audio book cover, photo taken at Metairie Cemetery

photo from Saint Louis Cemetery #1

That's all for now. Y'all stay safe.

www.oneildenoux.com








 

30 October 2020

More Quotes from Writers


 To think about—

"When I'm not doing anything else, I'm writing — and I don't like to do anything else." Isaac Asimov

"Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called 'mad' and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called 'writers' and they do pretty much the same thing." — Ray Bradbury

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." — Ray Bradbury

"Readers tend to skip through novels but they won't skip dialogue." — Elmore Leonard

"Characters are much more important to me in my book than plot." — Elmore Leonard

"The artist is of no importance. Only what he creates if important, since there is nothing new to be said." — William Faulkner

"An artist is a creature driven by demons. He don't know why they choose him and he's usually too busy to wonder why." — William Faulkner

"The first duty of a novelist is to entertain. It is a moral duty. People who read your books are sick, sad, traveling, in the hospital waiting room while someone is dying. Books are written by the alone for the alone." — Donna Tartt

Jeffty is a big help

"The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new." — Samuel Johnson

"A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." — Thomas Mann

"Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons." — Robertson Davies

"Writers should read, read, read." — Paul McCartney

"I'll read my books and I'll drink coffee and I'll listen to music, and I'll bolt the door." J. D. Salinger

Scamp is a scamp

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." — Anton Chekhov (maybe be paraphrasing what he said, but it sounds spot on)

"Creativity is an all-together personal thing. It's an art that cannot be taught, normally." — Rod Serling

"A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy." — Edward P. Morgan

Harri helps too

"The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can't help it." — Leo Rosten

"The historian records, but the novelist creates." — E. M. Forster

"For a brief time I was here, and for a brief time, I mattered." — Harlan Ellison

That's all for now.

www.oneildenoux.com



09 October 2020

Quotes from F. Scott Fitzgerald


I never heard F. Scot Fitzgerald say this things, of course, but these have been attributed to him.



"You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say."

"That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong."

"First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you."



"Cut out the exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke."

"Writers aren't people exactly. Or, if they're any good, they're a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person."

"All writing is like swimming underwater and holding your breath."


"Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind."

"Often I think writing is a sheer paring away of oneself leaving always something thinner, barer, more meagre."

"Mostly, we authors must repeat ourselves – that's the truth. We have two or three great moving experiences in our lives – experiences so great and moving that it doesn't seem at the time that anyone else has been so caught up and pounded and dazzled and astonished and beaten and broken and rescued and illuminated and rewarded and humbled in just that way before."

"You can stroke people with words."

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

"Action is character."

"Nobody ever became a writer by just wanting to be one."

"Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy."


F. Scott Fitzgerald's grave

The last line of THE GREAT GATSBY. It always moves me.

Ernest Hemingway once described F. Scott Fitzgerald this way. "He is the great tragedy of talent of our bloody generation."


















That's all for now. Y'all stay safe.


www.oneildenoux.com

18 September 2020

Steinbeck's Writing Tips


John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962. The Nobel committee cited his "realistic and imaginative writings" noting his "sympathetic humor and keen social perception." This "giant of American letters" gave us six tips about writing which I list below (from multiple internet sources):

John Steinbeck

  1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it is finished, you are always surprised.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 one and write to that one.
  4. If a scene or a sections 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 you trouble is because it didn't belong there.
  5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
  6. If you are using dialogue – say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.
 Writers don't write the same way. I seem to follow many of these steps, especially #1, 2, 3 and 6.

I follow #2 but using a computer allows me to go back over what I wrote the day before and edit it. That jump starts me to write what follows.

John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Themes in Steinbeck's fiction included fate and injustice, especially to the downtrodden or the everyman protagonist.

John Steinbeck receiving Nobel Prize
 Here is an excerpt from Steinbeck's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech –
"The writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit – for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature."
That's all for now. Y'all stay safe.

www.oneildenoux.com

26 June 2020

How a Story or Novel is Written


Spent the last two hours going through all the posts I put up here on SleuthSayers to see if there was something about writing I had not posted. I came up with this piece of information from respected editor, writer, historian, poet, and literary critic Malcolm Cowley who explained the four stages in the composition of a piece of fiction.

Cowley explained how a story or novel is written by most writers. It went this way –

1. The Germ of the Story

The writer comes up with an idea for a story. It could be something the writer has experienced, witnessed, felt, heard about, or read about. An inspiration strikes the writer and the process begins.

2. The Conscious Meditation

The writer's imagination takes over and the writer meditates. A mix of conscious and unconscious thoughts perk in the writer's mind. The writer thinks of a way to present the story. Who are the characters? Where is the story set? When? What happens in the story?

Many writers compose an outline, some detailed, some sketchy. The outlines is often revised as the story is written.

3. The First Draft

Written quickly, it is an expansion of the outline. Remember – get it written, then get it right.

4. The Rewrite(s)

After the first draft, the writer takes the time to edit or rewrite the story, often more than once, to polish it until it sparkles.

This sounds simplistic and it may not apply to all. I know Harlan Ellison often skipped #4. He wrote one draft and that was it.

Writing a novel is like construction a building and revision is turning the building into a house a human can live in.

Good luck to everyone in the middle of this pandemic. It ain't easy.

That's all for now.
  
 www.oneildenoux.com


13 March 2020

Go Tigahs!


Go Tigahs!
A football story.

My first memory of LSU football was listening to the LSU-Ole Miss game on All Saints Day, November 1, 1958. I sat with my father at our kitchen table with his transister radio and he explained about the LSU Fighting Tigers and their arch-rival University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Rebels, how both were undefeated, both in the top ten. Ole Miss had defeated LSU the previous year 14-12. The Tigers scored first but we fretted as Ole Miss was a excellent team. LSU scored again and won 14-0. On New Years we watched LSU play the Clemson Tigers at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and the Fighting Tigers won 7-0, cementing their first national championship. I was hooked for life.

The next year we sat at the same kitchen table and listened to the same transister as Billy Cannon raced 89-yards with a sizzling punt return in the 4th Quarter, breaking seven tackles, to put #1 LSU ahead of #3 Ole Miss. The Rebels weren't finished, driving to the LSU 4-yard line. First and goal. With 18 seconds left, Billy Cannon and Warren Rabb stopped Ole Miss quarterback Doug Elmore on the 1-yard line on fourth down for a 7-3 win. It was electric. The following week, LSU lost to Tennessee 14-13 and lost a rematch with Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl, 21-0.

Cannon won the Heisman Trophy that year.

Billy Cannon, 1959

It took 45 years for the Fighting Tigers to win another national championship. January 4, 2003, at the Sugar Bowl again. LSU 21 Oklahoma 14. They won the championship again in 2007, at the Sugar Bowl once more. LSU 38 Ohio State 24.

A near-perfect season followed in 2011, only to be dashed in the national championship game with a re-match with Alabama in the Sugar Bowl once more. Alabama 21 LSU 0. Alabama was coached by Nick Saban who was LSU's coach when the Tigers won the championship in 2003.

Few expected what happened last season. Magic. Perfection. Nothing is perfect in sports. With a new Cajun coach Ed Orgeron and a quarterback from Ohio, a new pass-happy air-raid NFL-stye offense, the Fighting Tigers went 15-0 and beat defending national champion Clemson Tigers (again) for the national championship. In the New Orleans, of course. LSU 42 Clemson 25. LSU scored the most points of any team in a single season in NCAA history. An unstoppable force.


A perfect season. In the small town where I live across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, fireworks echoed after the game. People leaned on their car horns. It was perfect. No season could be better. Quarterback Joe Burrow (who wore a jersey with the French spelling BURREAUX before the SEC championship game) won the Heisman Trophy sixty years after Billy Cannon won.

A magic year:
National Championship
SEC Championship
Coach of the Year Ed Orgeron
Assistant Coach of the year Joe Brady
Heisman Trophy Joe Burrow
Biletnikoff Award for Best Receiver Ja'Marr Chase
Jim Thorpe Award for Best Defensive Back Grant Delpit
Joe Moore Award for Best Offensive Line

Quarterback Joe Burrow's emotional acceptance speech when accepting the Heisman Trophy showed the pride brought to Louisiana and this young man's appreciation of the opportunity. His remarks about growing up in an impoverished area touched many people. As he wiped tears from his eyes, Joe said, "I'm up here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County (Ohio) that go home to not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school. You guys can be up here too." Those impactful words resulted in the food bank in Athens County receiving donations exceeding $500.000.

This Fighting Tiger team was special.

It was a pleasure watching these young men and women achieve what is nearly unachievable, see the joy in the faces of their families, fell the good vibrations run through our little state. Pride. I said women because when they won the national championship, Joe Burrow reminded everyone it wasn't just the players who won the trophy. It was the coaches, trainers, medical personnel and so many other workers responsible for putting the team on the field, many of them women.

Coach Ed Orgeron, from the small town of Larose in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, is a fiery leader with a heavy Cajun accent. He ends every interview with the new montra of LSU – "Go Tigahs!"

During games, when they run, they look like streaking tigers, especially at night. Purple, gold and white.




Outside Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

For a little while, it's the best of times.

I know, this is a writer's blog and what does this have to do with writing. Well, a SleuthSayer wrote it.

Thats all for now –
http://www.oneildenoux.com





31 January 2020

What's a Plot?


I was asked about plot often when I taught creative writing classes and put together a lecture from information obtained from too many sources to list – writers, editors, publishers, art directors, couple guys on the street, a drunk woman in a French Quarter bar. More of an explanation than a guideline but some people found it helpful.

What's the structure of a plot?

1. Beginning – initial action of a situation. Often the problem (s) to be solved is introduced.

2. Middle – the part of the story which shows the hero's attempts to solve the problem.

3. Ending – the natural result of what happened in the middle. The hero either succeeds of fails or learn from the effot.

The modern dramatic plot.

INTENT – hero wants to achieve something.

FIRST BARRIER – something stands in the way.

FIRST BARRIER REVERSAL – hero does something to overcome to the first barrier.

HIGH POINT OF ACTION – hero is about to achieve his/her intention. Things look good at this point.

SECOND REVERSAL or RUG-PULLING – something happens to frustrate the hero.

CATASTHOPHE – hero falls to low point, may be permanently thwarted or even killed.

RESOLUTION – hero may get though it all and achieve his/her intent.

Plot is the catalyst to reveal character.

Start by answering the plot key:

"It is the story of _______________________ who wants to _____________________.

This is revealed through the character's external actions and internal thoughts.

Harry Whittington, in the introduction to his noir mystery FIRES THAT DESTROY, put it like this, "Once I have worked out a plot key, which will unlock the mystery, I know where I'm going, even if I don't know how I will get there."

from the cover of FIRES THAT DESTROY by Harrt Whittington

Writer-Editor Algis Budrys put it in his Seven elements of plot structure:

BEGINNING
1. A character(s)
2. in a situation
3. with a problem(s)

MIDDLE
4. character(s) makes an intelligent effort to solve the problem(s)
and
5. fails (repeat as necessary)

END
6. character(s) finally succeeds in solving the problem(s)
7. validation quickly follows
edited by Algis Budrys

There are so many ways to put it.

A Plot needs:

1. Forward Movement. Move character along his/her course.

2. Twists and Surprises. Conflict, problems that must be overcome. The unexpected should be there, yet it shoiuld be logical.

3. Darkest Hour. Just before the climax, where all seems lost for the hero.

4. Climax. The high point where the quest ends.

5. Character Change. Story usually has an effect on the hero and he/she evolves.

Do these guidelines work all the time? No. There are no rules to writing, just suggestions.

Thats all for now –
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