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

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 –
http://www.oneildenoux.com

29 November 2019

Good Movies of the early 1950s


After criticizing some of the popular music of the early 1950s, here are some of the good movies of the early 1950s. Listening to the radio might have been painful but we had a lot of great movies to choose from at theaters. Here are some:

Released in 1950:

Sunset Boulevard (Paramount) William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olsen



Harvey (Universal) James Stewart, Victoria Horne, Cecil Kellaway, Josephine Hull

The Asphalt Jungle (MGM) Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Sam Jaffee, John McIntire, Marilyn Monroe



D.O.A. (Harry Popkin Productions) Edmund O'Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler, Beverly Garland

Winchester '73 (Universal) James Stewart, Shelly Winters, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally

Father of the Bride (MGM) Spencer Tracy, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Bennett

Cinderella (Disney) Ilene Woods, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Mike Douglas, William Phipps

Released in 1951: A banner year for good movies

A Streetcar Named Desire (Warner Brothers) Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden

Strangers on a Train (Warner Brothers) Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman, Leo G. Carroll



An American in Paris (MGM) Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Nina Foch

A Place in the Sun (Paramount) Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth, Taylor, Shelly Winters, Raymond Burr

Detective Story (Paramount) Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, William Bendix


The African Queen (Horizon Pictures) Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn, Robert Morley

Ace in the Hole (Paramount) Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Richard Benedict


When Worlds Collide (Paramount) Barbara Rush, Richard Derr, Peter Hansen, Rachel Ames

The Thing from Another World (RKO) Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, James Arness

The Day the Earth Stood Still (29th Century Fox) Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe



Alice in Wonderland (Disney) Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn, Sterling Holloway, Jerry Colonna

Released in 1952: Another banner year

High Noon (Stanley Kramer Productions) Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Lloyd Bridges, Lon Chaney, Jr.

The Snows of Kilimarjaro (20th Century Fox) Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner

Carrie (Paramount) Jennifer Jones, Laurence Olivier, Eddie Albert)


Against All Flags (Universal International) Errol Flynn, Maureen O'Hara, Anthony Quinn

The Crimson Pirate (Warner Brothers) Burt Lancaster, Nick Cravat, Eva Bartok, Dana Winter


Deadline – USA (20th Century Fox) Humphrey Bogart, Ethel Barrymore, Kim Hunter

Singin' in the Rain (MGM) Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen

Viva Zapata! (20th Century Fox) Marlon Brando, Jean Peters, Anthony Quinn

Released in 1952: Now this was a year for movies

From Here to Eternity (Columbia) Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Clift, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine



Shane (Paramount) Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Brandon De Wilde, Jack Palance

How To Marry a Millionaire (20th Century Fox) Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe

House of Wax (Warner Brothers) Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Sue Allen, Carolyn Jones, Charles Bronson

Mogambo (MGM) Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly



The Robe (20th Century Fox) Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, Michael Rennie

Roman Holiday (Paramount) Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Eddie Albert

Stalag 17 (Paramount) William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss

The War of the Worlds (Paramount) Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, Les Tremayne, Cedric Hardwicke

The Wild One (Stanley Kramer Productions) Marlon Brando, Mary Murphy, Robert Keith,  Lee Marvin

Peter Pan (Disney) Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Hans Conried

This is a subjective list. There were many other good movies I did not list.

That's all for now.
http://www.oneildenoux.com

27 September 2019

A little about Private Eyes


We all know there is no one-way to write, no one type of private eye, no rules – except to write clearly.

In the latest Reflections in a Private Eye newsletter of the Private Eye Writers of America, PWA President J. L. Abramo presents some wisdom from Raymond Chandler's The Simple Art of Murder.

A few snippets struck me. The world of the PI – "It is not a very fragrant world." True. Like police officers, private eyes often see humanity at its worst and "down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished or afraid." Chandler explains, the private eye "must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man."

Interesting. A lot to think about there.

Of dialogue, Chandler tells us, "He talks as a man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness."

I like that explanation.

To Chandler – "The story is this man's adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure."

Man or woman, I say. Not many female private eyes when Chandler was writing.

Chandler also says, "I do not care about his private life."

Here is where I differ from the master. I have two private eye series characters and their private lives are too important to be ignored.  In one, a lone wolf private eye who was a womanizer in the early short stories and first two novels in the series, changes overnight when an eight-year old girl with a small suitcase is left in front of his office. She is his daughter from a short liason he had before he went to war (WWII, of course). This lightning bolt transforms him. He has a little girl and this hard man is a single father now with a most precious mission. Raising his daughter.

In the subsequent books, his life with his little girl takes up many pages in the books as both characters lead me through the book. I follow behind recording what they do as the PI works his cases.

Private Eye, Barracks Street, New Orleans

In my other PI series, the private eye is married to a wealthy woman and their personal life, along with their two rescued greyhounds, take an ever increasing role in the books. One of my previous agents suggested I kill off the wife to make the detective's life harder and sadder. I fired the agent instead. Most of the emails I get about this series talk about the wife's interactions with the PI.

Do I care how I've deviated from the formula? Not one bit. Ray Bradbury quotes Spanish poet and Nobel laureate Juan Ramon Jimenez at the beginning of Fahrenheit 451 and I agree – "If they give you ruled paper write the other way."

There is a lot more to the private eye than we have seen from any of us. I say go for it.

That's all for now.

http://www.oneildenoux.com





26 July 2019

Movies 1960-1963


My father, an army CID Agent, was stationed at Camp Passalaqua, SETAF, Verona, Italy, from 1960 to 1963. We lived off base in the city of Verona –  one of the great experiences of my life. I was 10 when we arrived in Italy and was immediately disappointed there was no American television. No TV for three years. It wound up being one of the best things that happened to me because I read and read and read – children's books, adult fiction, non-fiction. Fell in love with the school library and the post library. I attended Verona American School, Borgo Milano, Verona, and spoke fluent Italian by the time we returned to the states.

I also fell in love with movies. The post theater changed movies every other day and we saw nearly every movie released between mid-1960 and mid-1963. I still think of them as Verona movies. There was no motion picture codes back then - no PG and PG13 ratings. Parents figured out what we could watch, which meant I was not allowed to watch any Alfred Hitchcock movie (Psycho came out in 1960) and any James Bond movie because of the naked women. My father came back from seeing Dr. No and said we could have gone with him, assuring my mother there were no naked women in the film. Just a woman in a bikini. I did get to see some movies with mature themes.

Verona movies. Viewed now, some were good, some bad but we kids loved seeing them all.

I remember ...

This great adventure –




Young, hot Jane Fonda –



Another great war story. Jane Fonda? No. Great beauty Dana Wynter. Smart. Sharp. Kenneth More was dynamite in a subdued role. The scene in the claustrophobic room when they learned HMS HOOD had blown up was riveting –



OK. I was 11 years old and loved this one –



I thought this was the best movie ever made when I saw it as a kid. Still think it's great –



I looked for Sidney Poitier in all subsequent movies. Saw A RAISIN IN THE SUN in 1961 too –



Wow. Great flick. Lee Marvin was such a great bad guy –



Didn't realize I liked musicals until I saw this one –



Scariest werewolf movie I've ever seen. This werewolf was awesome –



Fun. Fun. Fun. Even had Fabian –



The song sold me but hard to take my eyes off Capucine. What? Fabian again?



Did not realize the genius of David Lean yet. The panoramas. Peter O'Toole was fantastic. Omar Sharif was the coolest –



Still don't know what all the fuss was about with this one. Never thought Ann-Margaret was the "young Marilyn Monroe." Wasn't bad but ... I mean the hero was Bobby Rydell –




My parents did not realize the content of this one. It was about our home town. A movie about a "stylish New Orleans brothel" may have been a bit much for kids. Capucine and young Jane Fonda together in this one –



When you're a kid there was JERRY LEWIS. We also saw CINDERFELLA  –



Another mature movie. Natalie Wood was wonderful. Wasn't crazy about pretty boy Warren Beatty –



They kept this one around a while –



Several Elvis movies came around, this was the best. We also had GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS! and BLUE HAWAII –



Glad I saw this when I was a kid. It left a big impression on me –



OK. Had a crush on Hayley Mills after this one –



Love this movie. Great songs. James Dean was the smoothest and got a crush on Deborah Walley.



So many other good movies came to the theater. Others I remember – THE LAST VOYAGE, THE LOST WORD (the one with Claude Rains), WHERE THE BOYS ARE, THE WACKIEST SHIP IN THE ARMY, THE MIRACLE WORKER, THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, THE HORIZONTAL LIEUTENANT, MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (Marlon Brando version), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (Herbert Lom version), IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD, ZOTZ!

That's all for now.
http://www.oneildenoux.com