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

02 September 2022

Novel Writing


Just watched the movie LAST CALL (Showtime Networks, 2002), a story of the last few weeks in the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald. It featured the always brilliant Jeremy Irons as F. Scott and a surprisingly excellent performance by Neve Campbell as Francis Kroll, the young secretary he hired, to assist him as he struggled to write. It is based on the memoir of Francis Kroll.


A scene in the movie struck me. Fitzgerald dictates THE LAST TYCOON to Kroll who takes it down in shorthand. When Fitzgerald finishes a scene, Kroll eagerly asks, “Then what?” Fitzgerald answers, “I haven’t a clue.”


It struck me because I’ve been writing my novels like that. I haven't a clue what comes next but it comes to me.


When I wrote my first novels, I always had the plot laid out in detail. I don’t do that anymore. I start with a character in a scene and follow the character though the scene and keep following from scene to scene.


My latest novel HARDSCRABBLE PRIVATE EYE starts with a double-crossed private eye left handcuffed in a cavern in the Amazon by a femme fatale. After more double-crosses, the femme fatale rescues him, leaves him again and I follow him to New Orleans where he works a series of cases before the femme fatale returns.


The PI is hardscrabbled, the story hardscrabbled and I wrote it hardscrabbled and it came out a lot better than anticipated.


We all know there are many ways to write a story. I find creating real characters, putting them in motion and following along is an arduous way to write and so rewarding when it all comes together.


A writer I respect, Roger Bull (formerly of New Orleans and now of Fairhope, Alabama) likes the many twists and turns, making the reader feel as though he was a hamster on a wheel, so many spins and twists until the satisfying conclusion.


Twists? Because I didn’t know where I was going. I just followed and wrote what happened.


That's all folks.

12 August 2022

Time to go to the movies again


It's fun to make lists. Here are some movies lists. What does this have to do with writing? Movies have scripts, don't they?

1. Movies I’ve watched many times and will watch again.

    Amadeus
  • AMADEUS (1984)
  • ANIMAL CRACKERS (1930)
  • BATTLEGROUND (1949)
  • BLOW-UP (1967)
  • BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969)
  • CASABLANCA (1943)
  • THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951)
  • Blow-up
  • DEAD MEN DON'T WEAR PLAID (1982)
  • THE DEPARTED (1984)
  • DR. ZHIVAGO (2006)
  • FAHRENHEIT 451 (1966)
  • FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953)
  • FUNERAL IN BERLIN (1967)
  • THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1947)
  • Ghost and Mrs Muir
  • THE GODFATHER (1972)
  • THE GODFATHER PART II (1974)
  • I MARRIED A WITCH (1942)
  • THE IPRESS FILE (1965)
  • JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (1959)
  • LAURA (1944)
  • LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)
  • The Godfather
  • THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)
  • THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (1975)
  • MY FAVORITE YEAR (1982)
  • THE PRODUCERS (1967)
  • REBECCA (1940)
  • ROMEO AND JULIET (1968)
  • SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998)
  • Ipcress File
  • THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)
  • SHINDLER’S LIST (1993)
  • THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD (1965)
  • THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951)
  • THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942)
  • VERTIGO (1958)
  • YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974)
  • This Gun for Hire
  • ZULU (1964)

This list is incomplete as I keep remembering good movies.

2. Movies I’ve seen once and will never watch again.

  • AUSTRALIA (2008)
  • AVATAR (2009)
  • THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)
  • A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1972)
  • Laura
    Laura
  • CRASH (2004)
  • LOVE STORY (1970)
  • THE DEERHUNTER (1979)
  • FATAL ATTRACTION (1987)
  • GANGS OF NEW YORK (2002)
  • MRS. DOUBTFIRE (1993)
  • SAW (2004)
  • THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2008)
  • WHAT DREAMS MAY COME (1998)
  • Every superhero movies I’ve seen except
    • THE PHANTOM 1996)

3. Movies I’ve fallen asleep while watching and won’t try again.

  • All of the LORD OF THE RINGS movies.
  • The HARRY POTTER movies my daughter was able to drag me to

4. Movies I’ve walked out of to get a cup of coffee and waited for my wife to finish watching and join me at the coffee shop

  • THE CONSTANT GARDENER (2005)
  • THE ENGLISH PATIENT (1996)
  • SOLARIS (2002)

That's all for now.



10 June 2022

Historical Mystery Revisited


With the release of my latest book, I thought it might be time to revisit my first SleuthSayers article – Writing the Historical Mystery. Since the article aired in September 2016, I have had five historical mystery novels and fifteen historical mystery short stories published.


Accuracy vs. Fiction

Joseph Pulitzer wrote on his newsroom wall – “Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy.” Excellent advise for journalists but fiction writers are not journalists and we do not write history books. Historical accuracy is important in the historical mystery but is it more important than your story? I say no.

When we write historical fiction we are writing FICTION. I have a degree in European and Asian History and have had historical articles published in academic journals.

In writing academic historical articles, I strive to be as accurate as humanly possible. Nearly all history graduate students take a class in HISTORIOGRAPHY, the study of historical writing. They know unless you are an eye-witness to an historical event – and that’s one person’s subjective observation – then you must rely on first hand accounts of other contemporary witnesses or second hand accounts complied by other historians. So why worry if you get a minor detail wrong in your historical fiction as I did when I had a character wearing a Banlon shirt several years before Banlon was introduced? Oh, yes. Someone caught me and I had to miss recess that day. Same thing happened when I put a Parker T-ball jotter in a private eye's hand a few years before Parker distributed the pen. Wrong. An easy fix.

Historians in critically-acclaimed history books also get things wrong. Ever read history books of the Napoleonic Wars? British Historians and French Historians paint nearly opposite histories of the same period. It’s almost funny.

Back to my first statement - when we write historical fiction we are writing FICTION – I have fudged on historical accuracy to write a better story because, in my opinion, historical fiction is like someone’s name. John Smith is a SMITH, part of the SMITH family, not the JOHN family. Historical Fiction is FICTION and fiction outranks history, otherwise you’re writing a history book.

“ … fairness is not the historical novelist’s first duty,” the great historical fiction writer Bernard Cornwell pens in his notes at the end of Sword Song (2008). He is correct, of course. The duty of an historical novelist is to entertain, to elicit emotion in the reader and if mistakes of fact are made (from errors in research, by omission or by design), well, it happens.


Fiction writers make up stuff. We make up characters and events, sometimes with an historical backdrop.

Artistic license was taken when I wrote my latest, Hardscrabble Private Eye. I'm not a reporter, I'm a fiction writer.


A novel set in 1935 New Orleans. A tale of buried treasures. Diamonds. Rubies. Emeralds. A priceless stolen book. A tale of treachery with alluring femme fatales, gangsters, Mafiosi, gunfights, tommy guns peppering the night and a private eye harscrabbled in the middle.

That's all for now.

29 April 2022

Gilded Time



Trade Paperback and eBook published by Big Kiss Productions, March 2022

Fascinated by the Gilded Age, I started putting a story together a few years ago. The germ of the idea involved interactions between a wealthy family and a working-class family. I began with the main characters.

The Den Helder family, a railroad tycoon and wife, along with their 21-year old daughter Alicia and 18-year old twins Elspeth and Matthew, lived in a mansion across the street from a elegant municipal park in the wealthy part of town.

Mike Labruzzo, a 27-year old police detective, a single father raising a 4-year of daughter, lived along the edge of the poor side of town.

Setting? Couldn't use New Orleans. The years after the Civil War until the end of the 19th Century may have been a Gilded Age for many Americans but the south was going through Reconstruction. So I thought of New York only I didn't know enough about NYC to set the story there. So where? Chicago? I know less about Chicago.

Hell, I'm a fiction writer. I made up a town called Noressex in Westchester County, New York, about forty miles up the Hudson from NYC. Spent a couple months laying out and naming the streets, building the mansions, houses, tenements, industries, parks, churches, schools.

Added supporting characters – the Den Helder household servants, relatives and friends and fleshing out the Noressex Police Department where Detective Labruzzo worked, and his friends and relatives around the rooming house where he and his little girl lived.

Started the story with a bang, Labruzzo and his partner rescuing Matthew Den Helder from a brawl at a bawdy house in the part of Noressex where young men secretly frequented. Labruzzo has the injured 18-year old taken to a nearby hospital. Visting him later, the detective meets Alicia and eventually Elspeth Den Helder and the rest of the family.

Once the charaters were set in motion, I went along and wrote down what they did until they reached the climax of the story I had laid out in a two paragraph outline. It took 102,000+ words but man, I enjoyed every minute of the ride.

Lot of crime fiction in this historical novel.

That's all for now.

www.ONeilDeNoux.com

08 April 2022

Memories come back to haunt


They come in dreams and they come in flashes when I'm awake.

Memories of people I once knew, memories of things that happened and sometimes memories of places.

As an army brat, I lived in ten houses in four states and one foreign country before graduating from high school. I remember some of the houses in flashes and a few in photos. Most of my negatives and photos were lost in Hurricane Katrina but some survived and I found a short series of negatives I took in 1979 of the place we lived in 1958-59.

Our building. We lived in the center apartment.

A short street called Navy Parkway in New Orleans was lined with two-story wooden buildings (exterior walls covered in gray slate) separated into three housing sections for military personnel and their dependents just across Bayou St. John from City Park. We lived there when I was in third and fourth grade and it holds the most vivid memories of my early childhood.

Walking to school a few blocks away, walking to the movie theater a few blocks away and seeing great films like The Vikings, King Creole, The Fly, The Buccaneer, Bell Book and Candle, Damn Yankees, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and many more.

I remember long hot summers playing in our neighborhood playground just outside our back door. The ever-efficient military engineers built the buildings around a central grassy playground with monkey bars inside and swings and merry-go-rounds and a canteen at the far end – a precurser of the convenience store – where we kids bought candy and comic books.

The canteen (rear building). Other structures were not there in 1959.

These pictures taken twenty years later show the buildings still there, although no longer military housing. They'd morphed into part of the LSU College of Dentistry. I went back after Hurricane Katrina and it was all gone, the buildings replaced by houses. Even the street was gone. But the memories remain.

Memories like these feed my books with settings long gone. When you're an old man, there are a lot of memories. Memories of faces stir emotions. Some happy, some not so. Old men get choked up easily because so much of our life is behind us.

There's an old saying that goes, "Sometimes memories sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks." Sometimes they just make me laugh.

That's all for now.

www.ONeilDeNoux.com

18 March 2022

Out of The Zone


There's a lesson in here. I think.

In October 2017, I posted an article about a writer writing in The Zone in which a writer's narrow focus on a novel or story is sustained through the interruptions of working a full time job and other distractions. It's like being on another plane.

After retiring, I've been able to work nearly 10 hours a day on writing and remained in The Zone – focused like a laser beam – writing in a near trance – characters interrupting meals with their conversations. Scenes interrupting sleep.

In March 2021, during the pandemic, The Zone became elusive. Fear of family, friends, of my wife and myself going into a hospital and never returning. I narrowed my focus and managed to write but not as much.

Now, in March 2022, I feel out of The Zone and must work hard to focus. The lesson here for writers is to keep pushing, keep writing, even if it is only for a short time each day, even if you only get one sentence down. Stay with it and it will come. Over the last year the short stories and novel I wrote crawled out of my computer, but they came and came better than I thought they would going into each. Maybe I'm on automatic. Maybe a writer who has been writing for nearly forty years has developed an inner focus that gets me through.

Face it, writing is hard. I'm talking about the composition, putting fingers to keys and creating a story. Don't give up on a story and especially a novel. If it seems to die on you, let it sit and go back to it but never give it up.

I have always found the solution and if a little old guy like me can, any of you can.

It's not the inspiration but the work put in to get from the opening line to THE END. Others have said it more eloquently, but that's the way it is.

That's all for now.

ONeil DeNoux
www.ONeilDeNoux.com

25 February 2022

Movie Titles as Mini-scenes


 Perusing Netflix and Amazon Prime and YouTube, I read through movie titles quickly and - wait – what was that? So I strung some together. The red lettered words are not in titles, they just keep the flow going.

I started with two movies: Waitress. Millie. And came up with this nonsense.

Waitress Mille had Something To Think About Lying Under The Tuscan Sun After Life in The Lillies Of The Field

Gilda Dressed To Kill Touched The Razor's Edge On Golden Pond and Dripped Water for Elephants Every Saturday as Maniacs Richard III The Great Gatsby The Great Waldo Pepper Took A Walk On The Wild Side

Marilyn In A Lonely Place gave A Naked Kiss to The Beast With Five Fingers Marty as The Voyeurs in The Rear Window of The House Across The Bay Saw What Just Happened so Marilyn Asked The Woman In The Window With The Ipcress File Can You Keep A Secret

The Hairy Ape from The Bride And The Beast Beat The Devil In From The Cold as The Spy Who Came In From The Cold The Two Popes and The Devil's Mistress went Under The Eiffel Tower at Midnight In Paris To Play Happy Go Lucky Words And Pictures

The Cool Of The Day A Boy And His Dog went Above And Beyond For Love Of Ivy Dr. Strangelove and The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies To Live In L.A.

So This Is Love He Said, She Said Written In The Wind In The Heat Of The Night While The City Sleeps Between Heaven And Hell

The Man With The Screaming Brain Played Forbidden Games Felt Lust For Life with The Opposite Sex Under The Rainbow The Big Sky The Big Trees Big Daddy Big Fish Big Hero 6 Big Top Pee-Wee

Along Came Jones Too Late For Tears and Too Late The Hero to Go For Broke and Blow-Up Small Time Crime in Murderville

The Misfits had The Devil To Pay for The Missing Corpse Copying Beethoven with The Polka King Young Frankenstein The Wolfman Dracula and Mr. Peabody And The Mermaid

The Women Sing of Death Hang 'Em High How Sweet It Is! How To Save A Marriage And Ruin Your Life The Key To Rebecca 

The Right Stuff As Long As You've Got Your Health King Rat Love Has Many Faces Boy, Did I Get A Wrong Number How To Murder Your Wife

Baby The Rain Must Fall Inside Daisy Clover Carry On Doctor Even The Wind Is Frightened

The Lost Daughter and Our Idiot Brother took The Thirty-Nine Steps to Afternoon Delight as The Watcher Watched!

Dear Brigitte The Girl Can't Help It If A Man Answers In Search of the Castaways on Boy's Night Out Up From The Beach

The Game is Over Running The Art of Love Inside the Forbidden City The Two Of Us Violated Angels Welcome To Hard Times on The Planet Of The Apes

Daredevil Hunted Spider-Man Thor The Hulk The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms Godzilla In Bruges with Ivanhoe Mandy My Six Convicts My Three Angels The Dirty Dozen while Gidget Goes Hawaiian.

Closely Watched Trains In Harm's Way The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! Run, Appaloosa, Run To Sir, With Love

ONeilDeNoux.comHelp! Panic In The Year Zero Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You In The Closet And I'm Feelin' So Sad You Only Live Twice

Is Paris Burning? Carry On Cowboy Tonight For Sure It Happened In Athens Don't Make Waves Far From The Madding Crowd Playing Soldiers

The Counterfeit Stranger Follow That Camel Half A Sixpence It's A Bikini World Don't Raise The Bridge, Lower The Water I Am Curious (Yellow)

OK. Enough. I have to stop and get back to work.

www.ONeilDeNoux.com

04 February 2022

The Last Time I Saw Harlan


Looking back as I write this on January 28, 2022, two years after Harlan Ellison died on this day in 2018, I realize the last time I saw Harlan was his visit to New Orleans in 2001. I drove Harlan and Susan Ellison to the French Market and other places around town, including the Chalmette battlefield site of the Battle of New Orleans, and back to the French Quarter to check out where writer Sherwood Anderson lived in the Upper Pontalba Apartments in 1924.

Sherwood Anderson entertained and influenced William Faulkner, Carl Sandburg, Edmund Wilson and others. Harlan influenced me and many others.

I remember we went to the lower French Quarter where my character Lucien Caye lived on Barracks Street as well as where another of my recurring characters, Dino LaStanza, lived with his wife Lizette on Exposition Avenue at the edge of Audubon Park.

While uptown, we went to Lafayette Cemetery and checked out a two-story yellow frame house across the street from the cemetery where F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in 1919-20, where he wrote his "Letters to Zelda."

Harlan wanted to eat at a wonderful, small restaurant, a favorite of New Orleanians – Guy's Po-Boys on Magazine Street.

Of all the photos I took of the visit, these are the only ones not destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Some of these are stained but that's the way it goes.


I managed to lose a lot of this weight, thankfully.

In the French Market, Harlan talking with one of the stall owners.

In front of the statue of Saint Expedite, inside Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (which includes the Shrine of St. Jude), North Rampart Street, at the edge of the French Quarter.

Outside le Richelieu Hotel in the French Quarter.

Guy's Po-Boys, 5259 Magazine Street. It's still there.

Susan was a gracious, patient, intelligent woman with an cool sense of humor. Anyone married to Harlan needed a sense of humor. She died in 2020.

Brings me back to the first time I met Harlan at the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival. We sure were young back then.

Harlan, Chris Wiltz, George Alec Effinger, me

For those you who haven't read much Harlan Ellison. He is essential. A master of the short story whose influence on other writers, including me, is enormous. We all know writers influence one another. I see a lot of it today online, here at SleuthSayers and on other social media. A good thing. Writers linking up, maybe never meeting, but interacting and sometime influencing one another, maybe even inspiring each other.

That's all for now.

www.oneildenoux.com

14 January 2022

When to set a story


The six series characters I write about are set in different times, from the 1880s through today. The fast pace of things today with science and technology and the evolution of humans from the slower-paced 20th Century to the run-amok 21st Century, I find myself preferring to write stories and novels set back in time. The research needed to write stories set in the 19th Century is time consuming but keeps me focused on the characters and the story rather than what's happening today.

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, it took me a while to write a story set around that time. Janet Hutchings at Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine inspired me to write a Katrina story for EQMM's Salute to New Orleans Issue (Vol. 128, No 5, Nov 2006). It was a dynamite issue and I was happy to see my story in it.

I've written a few Katrina and Hurricane Rita stories after. Eight years after Katrina, I finally wrote a Katrina novel – City of Secrets (2013). Needed time to reflect.

Which is why I have written nothing about the pandemic and don't plan to anytime soon. Y'all can to that and I see many of you have done a good job with it.

Which brings me to the topic of this piece – when to set a story.

Editor Malcolm Cowley explained the four stages of writing a story:

1. The Germ of the Story where the idea for the story inspires a writer

2. The Conscious Meditation where the writer thinks of a way to present the story

3. The First Draft where the writer writes the story

4. The Rewrite where the writer gets it right 

When a writer like me gets inspired, I need to figure which character is right for the story. And just as importantly, when do I set the story. A product of the last half of the 20th Century, I am more comfortable writing about that time. I know the people (I am one) and what was going on then. My history degree helps me go back in time with my stories set in the 19th Century.

I'll probably still write stuff set in the 21st Century but the main characters with not be Gen X or Millenials. For sure, dude.

Side Note:

The sculpture Mackenzie, a product of my artist/sculptor son and the LSU School of Art, stood in our front yard since 2011. We used it on the cover of City of Secrets.

Mackenzie was destroyed last year by Hurricane Ida when she blew a large sweetgum tree across our yard.



Hey, the tree trunk missed our house at least.

That's all for now.

www.oneildenoux.com 

24 December 2021

Movies at a Theater


Eve Fisher's SleuthSayers posting on December 16th – My Brain on Old Movies – triggered my mind to remember the first movies I saw at a theater. As a kid, my first love was movies over books and stories and I remember so many.

The first movie I remember seeing in a theater was 1959's Journey to the Center of the Earth with James Mason, Arlene Dahl and Pat Boone. Saw it at the Saenger Theater on Canal Street, New Orleans. My Aunt Lucy and her boyfriend, later to be my Uncle Milton, took me on the streetcar where they deposited me at the Saenger while they went across the street to the Orpheum to watch Ben Hur, which they thought an eight year old like me would find boring. Journey was shorter than Ben Hur so I watched the movie twice. Loved it. Still do.


The next movie I remember seeing at a theater was 1960's The Lost World with Claude Rains, David Hedison, Jill St. John, Michael Rennie and Fernando Lamas. Followed by the re-release of 1953's The War of the Worlds with Gene Barry and Ann Robinson.

Somewhere along in there, I saw some Disney movies at the theater – Sleeping Beauty, Dumbo, Song of the South (Lord help me).

I also mentioned in a previous post how as an army brat, I lived in Italy (my father was stationed in Verona) and saw most of the movies released between 1961 and 1963 at the post theater.

Later, in high school my taste changed and I went to theaters to see Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-UpDr. Zhivago, The Graduate. As a young adult, I moved on to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Romeo and Juliet (1968 Franco Zeffirelli version with Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting).

When I became a writer, those early movies inspired me to write science-fiction stories and I wrote terrible SF stories until I learned how to write. Have to point to Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Lost World as inspirations for many of my SF adventure stories set on a fictional planet inhabited by dinosaur-like creatures. Some of those stories ended up in Asimov's, Tomorrow Science Fiction Magazine, Gorezone, Infinity Plus,  Oceans of the Mind, the premier issue of Plasma Frequency, Cricket children's magazine, and anthologies like Adventure and Star Noir. Many of stories are available in my collection Backwash of the Milky Way.

Other movies spurred me to write mysteries, western stories, historical fiction, children's fiction, mainstream fiction, suspense, fantasy, horror, romance, erotica, humor, and even a religious story. Always proud of my story which appeared in Messenger of the Sacred Heart as well as my stories which appeared in Cavalier, Juggs, Hustler's Busty Beauties, Playgirl and about a dozen Mammoth Books of New Erotica.

A Walk on the Wild Side with Capucine, Laurence Harvey and a 25-year old Jane Fonda and the scandalous Brititte Bardot movie And God Created Woman as well as other Bardot movies inspired my erotica.

from And God Created Woman (1956)
directed by Roger Vadim
starring Brigitte Bardot

Don't know about y'all but today's movies are so bad, it's hard to be inspired by any of them, except for the occasional movie without explosions, karate, guns, excessive violence, gore, insipid dialogue, cliched characters, excessive CGI and more explosions.

That's all for now.

www.oneildenoux.com 

03 December 2021

Ellison's Titles


 Came across a Harlan Ellison short story I'd read before and stopped to look at the title again – "Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes" and marveled at another of his great titles. I went through my Ellison books and thought I'd share some of his titles:

"I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream"


"Come to Me Not in Winter’s White"


"Shattered Like a Glass Goblin"


"Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38° 54’N, Longitude 77° 00’ 13” W”


"Mefisto in Onyx"


"City on the Edge of Forever"


"Soft Monkey"


"Pennies, Off a Dead Man's Eyes"


"Love Ain’t Nothing But Sex Misspelled"


"The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World"


"Shatterday"


"Angry Candy"


"The Deathbird"



"Again, Whoredome at a Penny a Word"


"Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World"


"Someone is Hungrier"


"All The Sounds of Fear"


"I See A Man Sitting On A Chair, and The Chair is Biting His Leg"


"Gnomeboy"


"The Very Last Day of a Good Woman"


"Nothing for My Noon Meal"


"Deeper Than The Darkness"


"Wanted in Surgery"


"One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty"


"Delusion for a Dragon Slayer"


"White Trash Don’t Exist"


"Croatoan"


"The Wine Has Been Left Open Too Long and the Memory Has Gone Flat"


"Lonely Women are the Vessels of Time"


"The Diagnosis of Dr. D’arqueAngel"


"All the Lies That Are my Life"


"Escape Goat"


"Paladin of the Lost Hour"


"Prince Myskhin, and Hold the Relish"


"The Function of Dream Sleep"


"Count the Clock That Tells the Time"


"The Executioner of Malformed Children"



"Twilight in the Cupboard"


"With Virgil Oddum at the East Pole" 


"The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore"


"Anywhere But Here, With Anybody But You"


"Darkness on the Face of the Deep"


"How Interesting: A Tin Man"


"Demon with a Glass Hand"


"The Lingering Scent of Woodsmoke"


"Where Shall I Dwell in the Next World"


"Chatting with Anubis"


"Djinn, no Chaser"


"She’s a Young Thing and Cannot Leave Her Mother"



"Never Send to Know for Whom the Lettuce Wilts"


"Objects in the Mirror are Closer than They Appear"


"The Toad Prince; or, Sex Queen of the Martian Pleasure-Dome"


"Loose Cannon; or, Rubber Ducks from Space"


"Jeffty is Five"


"A Boy and His Dog"


"Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes"


“Repent Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman

and my favorite – "The Whimper or Whipped Dogs"


No, they are not all speculative fiction. Two won the Edgar Award – "Soft Monkey" in 1988 and "The Whimper or Whipped Dogs" in 1974. Four were awarded a Writers Guild of America Award.

I've said it before. Titles are critically important, not just with books, but short stories as well. How many times have you thought about a good movie you've seen, then asked yourself – what was the title. Was it Blood something or Fatal something or a one of those instantly forgettable one-word titles like Contagion, Inception, Deception, Conception, Affliction?

I've quoted Walker Percy before – “A good title should intrigue, without being too baffling or too obvious.”

I would add a good title should be memorable.

12 November 2021

Random Thoughts


In a brief sojourn on social media, I spotted a post where a reader sat crying as she said, "Why did you write this book? It's hard."

The book was A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, a name I'm not familiar with. The woman's sadness at reading the book reminded me how one of the lessons in writing fiction is to elicit emotion in the reader. Looks like Hanya Yanagihara nailed it.

I have felt that way before many times. Not driven to tears but choked up. I got choked up when I finished reading Lonesome Dove the first time because I wanted 700 more pages. Felt that way when I read Adriana Trigiani's Lucia, Lucia and especially when I read Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale.

Got a little choked up when I finished writing Battle Kiss and USS Relentless because I was no longer going to be with those characters. I saddens me when I finish a Lucien Caye private eye novel because I'll miss him and AlizĂ©e and Jeannie.

Weird.

Found a quote from Thomas Harris about characters and thought I'd share it –

"Sometimes you really have to shove and grunt and sweat. Some days you go to your office and you're the only one who shows up, none of the characters show up, and you sit by yourself, felling like an idiot. And some days everybody shows up ready to work. You have to show up at your office every day. If an idea comes by, you want to be there to get it in."

Thomas Harris and cat
Thomas Harris and friend

Random thought about using active voice. I see a lot of passive voice in stories. It works but it bothers me, almost as much as a short story which begins with telling and goes on and on before the writer gets around to a scene. I know, there are many excellent stories which do this but many do not.

Active – Jimmy shot Eddie three times.

Passive –  Eddie was shot three times by Jimmy.

In a biography on PBS, I saw how J. D. Salinger followed Hemingway (and others) in saying a writer should write what he/she knows, has observed, has felt, otherwise there is no passion in the writing. "There is no fire between the words."

A friend saw this online and wondered if I wrote it because it was about me. No. I did not write it, but it's me all right.


cat

        I'm not anti-social, although I don't socialize
        Most people annoy me
        I don't like what many find as fun
        I'm happy with inexpensive things
        I like affection on my terms
        I enjoy solitude
        That's right
        I'm a cat


www.oneildenoux.com

22 October 2021

Show, Don't Tell


Show a story. Don’t tell a story.

I searched through my SleuthSayers posts and did not find that I put this up, so I'm putting up the small lesson I was taught about showing a story and not telling a story. I was asked about this twice over the last few weeks so I thought I'd put it up on SleuthSayers.

Over the years, this has been the most difficult element of fiction writing for beginning writers to learn. Showing a story is dramatizing the events in scenes. Telling a story is a summary of the story, flat without enough details to stimulate a reader’s imagination. You may summarize events between scenes but you should present the action of your story in scenes. It is immediate and much more dramatic.

In showing a story, the writer gives the reader more clearly defined action, characters, point of view and setting.

Describe the little things. Give specific details. Don’t just write – They had dinner. Put in what they ate. Don’t just write – They got in the car. It sounds better and gives a visual image if you put it as – They climbed into the red Corvette.


 

Writing and Reading a story is a collaboration between the writer and reader.

It should be something like this:

WRITER ---------- STORY ---------- READER

 

If a writer does not show enough in the story, the reader has to re-create the story in his or her mind and it will look like this:

WRITER --- STORY ----------------- READER

 

The reader has to fill in a lot of space with guessing and could guess wrong. That is why we give them specific details and setting.

If a writer gives too much information, too much explanation, and does not let the reader participate, it will look like this:

WRITER ----------------- STORY --- READER

 

The reader may be bored and stop reading. You want to hit the right balance, the half-way point.

 

Like the old saying about plays and movies. Plays tell a story. Movies show a story.


www.oneildenoux.com

01 October 2021

What is a Yogiism?


A Yogiism is something said by Yogi Berra, something less profound than something written by Shakespeare but memorable.

I am old enough to remember Yogi Berra playing catcher for the New York Yankees. Lawrencec Peter 'Yogi' Berra was a great catcher and an even better clutch hitter, excelling at hitting pitches out of the strike zone. Berra had more home runs than strikeouts in five seasons. Hard to imagine.


His achievements and honors are many, including 18 times an American League All-Star, 13 times a World Series Champion, 3 times AL MVP. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Yogi and his World Series Rings

There are many Yogiisms. Here are a few examples of his unintentional or intentional wit:

"It's deja vu all over again."

"Ninety percent of the game is half-mental."

"One thing we know for sure: If you can't imitate him, don't copy him."

"If the world was perfect, it wouldn't be."

"Never answer an anonymous letter."

"Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical."

"We made too many wrong mistakes."

"You can observe a lot by watching."

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

"I always thought the record would stand until it was broken."

"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.

"Take it with a grin of salt."

"Always go to other people's funerals; otherwise they won't go to yours."

"You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there."

"If people don't want to come to the ballpark, how the hell are you gonna stop them?"

"A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."

"We have deep depth."

"Pair up in threes."

"Even Napoleon had his Watergate."

"You better cut the pizza into four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six."

"You wouldn't have won if we'd beaten you."

"He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious."

"It gets late early out here."

"I'm not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did."

"Slump? I ain't in no slump. I just ain't hitting."

"It ain't the heat. It's the humility."

"So I'm ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face."

"Little League is a very good thing. It keeps parents off the streets."

"The future ain't what it used to be."

"I usually take a two hour nap from 1 to 4."

"Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too."

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

Probably his most famous Yogiism:

"It ain't over 'til it's over."

Yogi was incorrectly credited with coining the phrase, "It ain't over 'till the fat lady sings," which was first attributed to Ralph Carpenter, Texas Tech University sport information director. When Yogi was asked about that particular quote, he told a New York Times reporter, "That's one of the things that I said that I never said."

Sources for the quotes come from:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogi_Berra#Playing_style
  • https://ftw.usatoday.com/2019/03/the-50-greatest-yogi-berra-quotes
  • https://www.authenticmanhood.com/blog/20-great-yogi-berra-quotes

That's all for now.

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