All right welcome to the writer's life my name is Dan Black. Thank you guys so much for tuning in A.W.L. Show dot com if you're willing to go on and click through Amazonand look through the books that I think writers should read. Also some of the recommendations there you can sign up for the newsletter there as well and also you canclick a little button there on the home page and submit a question or an e-mail. I've got a few but I'm going to be murder. You know they need to have some or something.I'd like to answer things that where you can't get the answer anywhere else. I mean there's a lot of writing shows out there that deal that cater to beginning writers andsome of those questions are for them and for us here and I know it sounds like I'm being a snob and I'm being an absolute dick which I am and I apologize but I just Idon't want anything on the show. That you know you could just get somewhere else there's a million people doing that beginning writers thing so many to that end alsoI've been getting a lot of requests to do interviews and book promos and I'm listen I really appreciate it. I don't I don't get upset when I get home I really like it and I'mflattered but this is not a this is not a big commercial one of the my fears was to start a podcast and then I'd have to start two commercials and in order to get popular youknow you'd have to do interviews of people and some of those people can't really write in you know room anyway because you want the listeners and I just don't. Idecided that I'm not going to do that. I'd rather grow slowly. And to my great surprise double that now I mean this week again we've been doubling the downloads againand I thank you guys for that. But I'm not going to have just any old yeah just because somebody has a book out doesn't really mean much anymore. If somebody isgoing to sit across from me for me on the table here I would like them to be a competent writer I want to be amazed at how talented they are so that I can be excitedabout about what we're promoting for them or what they've done otherwise you know I just I don't know but I don't want to I don't want to be tricky. The trust that you guyshave given me and I want to make this a big commercial
because it's not a commercial and there's plenty of other places to find new writers and I listen to those great podcasts. That's just not what I do here. But I'm not opposedto it and somebody knows you know Philip Roth give me a call. Danity delusional Show dot com is my phone number
you know the new phone.
Also on you know on the on the website. So send in your questions as well. I'm saying it will make him make him give him some if you know maybe go search forsomething and I'll be glad to get back to it now if you do email me I will get back to you no matter what and I will likely answer your question in an e-mail I just been up toon the show so I don't want you to get offended and I don't and you know that send me stuff and then
I don't put on the show. Dick now I am a dick but not not because of that it's for other things. It's because I'm doing a show today on how to write like you know game inthe past on the shows I've kind of been hard on your game and I'm going to be honest I don't I do not think you know games are good right. But that doesn't mean
it's a Lula one
it doesn't mean we can't learn something from him. I've learned from him I've learned some things to do mostly with not you. I've learned some things and now I havescoured some of the short stories and I want to pass something on to you because he does and who who has had more success than your name and maybe I meanStephen King obviously in the literary world non-fantasy guy I don't know who has had much success as a modern writer at T.C. Boyle I guess is pretty prolific he's he's inthe New Yorker all the time but I can't think of anyone who's had as much success as he has.
Like I said other than Stephen King in the yonder field so
there's stuff to learn from him and I'm not and it
is going to be hard because I am I know that I can be condescending and a little hard for me to do this and be cool and I hate it when people shit on other people's workand I'm a hypocrite. I do it all the time. I know I'm like the poor man James would've just shitting all over people's hard work and I don't mean to be that way. So we'regoing to get through that time. I promise you there's going to be a good time but nonetheless no matter what I think of him there's always something something to learnfrom writers who have had a lot of success whether you like him or not whether you disagree with their style or whether their style rubs you the wrong way I mean there'salways something to learn from them. This week it was a weird week I had my rhythm was thrown off and I don't know if that's ever happened to you but it's hard to buildup this rhythm that you get as a writer where my rhythm was. Get up in the morning. I shake the boy out of bed. Three or four times because he doesn't get out of bedand the kid sleeps twelve hours and can't wake the fuck up I don't want to promise them he sleeps too much to me. I'm saying that we're not at the point
I get up I go downstairs I make the breakfast I get coffee I take the kid to school now that's a whole half hour you know stretch of time that's just absolute chaos and thenit all stops I come back home and boom everything's quiet and it's the most wonderful thing that happens every day. It's quiet I start writing I do my morning pages I writeby hand and then I end up writing from about nine thousand to twelve thousand or one depending on how you know distracted I get in between those hours whichhappens not often but it happens I've got myself into this rant you know I got the coffee I got the quietness. When it's warm enough outside or or when it's not too hard toopen up the windows and you can hear the breeze coming through I mean there's this great rhythm I had for maybe two or three months. Oh it was beautiful. I don't knowhow the material turned out.
May have to go back but the rhythm was good I was in that zone that's so hard to find as a writer you know you work hard so hard to get yourself into that chair every dayand at the same time and to get your brain switched on at a certain time and you get into that in even though it's repetitive and even though as artists we hate repetitionwe can't stand the thought of doing the same thing every day. The writing itself is so different and so dynamic is so interesting that it keeps coming back daily and that's awonderful place to be
in my life it's been rare to find that sort of rhythm. But this. Week there was a there was a wrench thrown in it because the woman went back to California where we'refrom. I did a show at a national I was for most of our lives in California and all our friends are there so she goes back for her sister's back and I don't like a wedding or afuneral. I don't know what it was so she goes back there and all of a sudden me and the boy are alone it's the last week of school and the first couple days it goes finebecause he's at school and I can get my rhythm. You know she's not around to help out in the morning but it's cool I got it I can handle it a little more chaotic. Thisbreakfast you know the fare gets reduced to oatmeal and cereal and that so much eggs and you know
but I handle it I handle it just fine. But halfway through the week school gets out and all of a sudden the boy is with me every day and this grand idea I had about myselfbeing a writer and being in that rhythm
is crushed it's crushed beneath the heel of Satan himself.
No No The boy's not saying the idea that you are not really a writer that reality fame is reality. OK there is the realization that you're not really a writer what you are whatyou are is a servant to a six year old boy who cannot find his shoes who is constantly running around without fucking pants who screams out the window to his friendsevery time he sees someone ride by on a bicycle in Naked Time Goddammit boy get away from the window do you have to be naked all the goddamn time. No I do notknow where your little paper or with that fucking Again that is the one with the. Terrible graphic Minecraft. Minecraft I don't not know your Minecraft character is becausebecause he cut out like a little Minecraft guy and he was playing with them and he lost it among his
boxes and boxes of toys we don't buy and ship by though is all grandparents birthdays Christmas as he has a house full of shit that I cannot get rid of. That's beside thepoint of me having become a servant after the goal Laureus time I had as a writer. Oh my god the rhythm was interrupted in a way it's like the whole world came crashingin. I love the kitten and love spending time with him but every six seconds he needs something or he's hungry. Do they do they feed kids every two minutes at school.Why is he hungry every twenty minutes. I can I can feed him the largest breakfast sausage and eggs and toast and one time I even did the pancakes even though we'retrying to stay away from sugar. We did it anyway because I wanted to stop his face so they wouldn't bother me till noon
I love it when he's bustling around the house and I hear singing to him playing a lot of that stuff. Just give me thirty feet give me one story distance fuckin cute as hell. Ilove I love the look up from my writing and I hear little voice nice talkings playing and he's you know acting out the thing he does on Minecraft with like nose and stuff. Ahwe're going to orrible love it man when he enters that ten foot circle. I know he's going to ask you something and like why even fucking right. Why why do anything that'sgoing to last forever so that I don't die in the minds of future generations how am I supposed to be. How am I supposed to become immortal if I get a six year old askingme where all his underwear are. Because I'm the one who commanded him to wear underwear. I said guys that we thought that this is that this is The Life
and Look I love it to some degree. I love it because the chaos the chaos is almost sensual isn't it. We need that we need that anxiety and to get too comfortable I think isnot. I think is not exactly healthy. How many how many books have you picked up in the bookstore. I have been a writer's very first novel and they get wondrous reviews.Oh what a great first novel. What a capable writer. We hope to see more from this writer in the future. They don't ever write again. A lot of them they can never getanything else published. Now there are a lot of reasons that go into that.
But getting that first book publish publish their stress there's anxiety. There's a long time that goes by in between there is a long time for you to think about your book andyour characters and all of a sudden you get a three book deal and you've got to write three books in the span of you know three to five years and it took you that long towrite one. There was there was a different kind of exile and pressure and now it's different and I'm not saying that it's easier because it most certainly is not easier but theanxiety in the stress is related to the business it's not related. It's less related to
you becoming immortal. It's less related to you achieving your goals. It's a different kind of anxiety. And so when you get your rhythm thrown off of it it's not a terriblething.
It's a good thing and it's a good thing for you to be thrown out of that rhythm is a good thing for you to chase it back down. To nail it down again
and I realized that this because when I took that break when I couldn't write for three or four days when I got so incensed and I had this grandiose idea about what I wassupposed to be as a as a writer. So embarrassing how how great you think you are in your quiet moments you know how arrogant you are. I mean on you maybe it's justme I don't know how but I do that
but I had a chance to take a space or to take a rest and when I came back to the material today in fact I couldn't go back to it today. I came back
to my work really excited.
It seemed fresh to me and I forget that I need breaks. I need to stop. I'm pretty good at stopping after twelve and then not thinking of the book again but it needs to belonger sometimes because things work in the background and they can work so far in the course of a day when you're not writing but over the course of three days thingsreally start to get going
you really start to look at your work just a little bit differently. So even though we shouldn't go chasing the the break of our rhythm
I hope the next time that that happens and that I don't get so upset about it I don't get so arrogant about it. You know
as if as if the world needs my work please. Well doesn't need my work. I hope the world wants my work but it doesn't need it and it's not healthy to get to get toograndiose about it and
you know it. But that's the way it. Life is what you can and do not live it now live it because you keep getting interrupted because people around you aren't wearing pants.Now you go on you move on. You get up you find the underwear. Put that down. No I don't know where that is. You find your own toys. It's not my job to make you happy.You need to entertain yourself. That's just what it is and
and without those breaks without that anxiety without those little stress points you wouldn't you wouldn't even know you're alive. You wouldn't know what to write aboutbecause there would be nobody around you and you'd be lonely and there would be absolutely nothing for you to say. You'd be another out there Khemu writing abouthow everything's pointless and nothing matters and OK I guess if you're
there's a place for that in literature. Obviously Cameron was that guy. Sartre to some degree I suppose.
But I'm guessing that that's not you I'm guessing you need something to say and if you need something to say it has to be a break in the rhythm so that you can payattention to the things around.
That's my opinion. I don't know if it's right that maybe I may think differently next week and the next time a rhythm is broken I know I may lose my shit who knows. Andthey happen all right next week next week. Next on the program we're going to take a look at the moving parts We'll take a look at how to write your game and to stickaround we'll be right back. Hey everybody I want to take a moment to talk about Amazon Prime. I love my Amazon Prime stream movies stream shows and get free twoday shipping. I watch Deadwood on it continuously. Love dead what did what. Fantastic show. That's why I watch it and watch movies too and listen man. The savingsthat you get on the free shipping alone will pay for itself. Probably every month depending on how much you buy on Amazon so you can go to A.W.L. Show dot com clickon the prime banner and click through and get yourself some streaming movies streaming shows in free to day shipping A.W.L. Show dot com No you just.
Oh OK. Oh OK.
Thank you guys for staying up to listen to the old D.B. over here
like I said before maybe we will show dot com Thank you guys so much for downloading. We continue to see the numbers go up and every week the numbers do justabout double and I'm kidding. It's really surprising to me and I almost can't get over it I mean I'm telling the woman I cannot believe that anybody wants to listen to me.
I'm happy for it. I'm grateful for it and you know what I'm most happy about I'm happy that there are other people out there think of writing or they want to think of writingthe same way I do and like I said at the beginning you know at the very beginning the show I just wanted to have a place to talk about writing
the way I want to talk about it in and to my knowledge is not really done anywhere. So thank you guys for staying faithful for downloading for subscribing. We do need itwe could use even more reviews we could climb those charts I think last last week we touched number fifteen on the literature. I Tunes charts and that only happens withsubscribers and downloads and if you wouldn't mind you know e-mailing this over to a friend a direct imminent to the website telling a friend that would be fantastic wecould use reviews download subscriptions anything you know to get us up to the top and get more people thinking about writing. Well wouldn't this world be such a greatplace if everybody wrote well if everybody thought that writing was important and that art is important to be skilled in such crafts is doubly important
enough in your game and what we can learn from his work or online. I'm sorry regretting doing this. I'm regret not that mule game and I'm not I don't regret talking aboutno game and I regret that I am the guy talking about him like I said before like I'm becoming some poor man seems would shitting all over people who've.
Who have success that I could probably never replicate. It's I mean there's no sour grapes I don't want to be in your game and but at the same time you know that the guyhas written a lot of stuff and he deserves our respect. Listen
try this experiment. Spend the next eight weeks writing one short story a week and in that time you stuff you do your reading but in that time read nothing but Saul Bellowand Philip Roth or if you're a fantasy guy or girl read Jeanne Wolf and Jack Vance and you know guys like that guys in the more literary end of the spectrum. What onestory a week eight weeks read nothing but literary stuff really high minded stuff skillful crafted stuff and look when you got those eight stories in your pocket you're goingto go back to Neil Gaiman's writing and I almost guarantee the previous luster of it. Stories will have worn off. You'll begin to edit him as you read and you'll begin to pickup on as tautological tendencies which don't always appear as if they're done on purpose. But but but but but
all of us as writers need to respect the man for his hard work place his accomplishments and most of all for his imagination no doubt that the guy is the king ofimagination. He has reached a level that most of us can only dream of. And that's really what we're looking at him today. He deserves to be looked at as an artist andthere's always always something to learn from these guys even if you don't particularly like their style or maybe don't like that they write in a John or whatever it is.
It's important for us to look at the structure of an author's work who has managed to cap or capture
you know capture that slippery snake we call literary fame and after we scrutinize them a bit we can decide whether we like him or not but only after fair scrutiny andthat's what I want to do today so whether you like him or you don't like him
he deserves a fair shot. Now I've taken examples from only his short stories I read a couple of his books while I have not read any of his novels all the way through acouple halfway through and I'm trying not to dig here. OK but I don't read them all the way through but I have read a lot of the short stories to most of my examples aregoing to be now actually all of my examples are going to be out of his short stories. Now one in particular I have a couple of collections but the most recent one I have iscalled Fragile Things it's the o seven edition. I don't I don't know if this is a reprint. I couldn't find one. I should say I could find it and look it could be a reprint But in anycase it's called Fragile Things it was published in I was seven. And it's short fiction and poetry
if you can call it up.
We're going go through five things I pulled out five of the most important things that we can learn from this guy and there are very important things we can learn from. OKThe first thing is don't waste time on surroundings. Now this is actually one of the greatest things game and does he doesn't he tells you doesn't show at least in thebeginning. He tells Now he takes a wide view of the world he's introducing us to an ever story and not a narrow detailed one showing at the beginning of a story isabsolute poison and I know that I'm being sacrilegious here because agencies all over the place and people who don't write every day tell you to show don't tell me youdon't understand what I mean by showing and I do not mean to say that the writer should not be painting a vivid picture. He absolutely should. That's his job that's our job.But if he or she doesn't do that we don't paint vivid pictures by describing surroundings.
Well give me an example here from this is from a story called Harlequin Harlequin Valentine which is actually a pretty cool story
begins like this. It is February the fourteenth at that hour of the morning when all the children have been taken to school and all the husbands have driven themselves towork or been dropped Steen breathing and gray coated at the rail station at the edge of town for the great commute. When I pin my heart to Missy's front door the heart isa deep dark red that is almost a brown the color of liver. Then I knock on the door sharply rat a tat tat and I grasp my wand. My stick my oh so thrust a bow and beribboned Lance and I vanish like cooling steam into the chilly air. Long ellipsis
Missy opens the door. She looks tired. My Columbine I brief but she hears not a word. She turns her head so she takes in the view from one side of the street to the otherbut nothing moves. A truck rumbles in the distance. She walks back into the kitchen and I dance silent as a breeze as a mouse as a dream. Into the kitchen beside her.Now
where was the detail there. I mean the details why we get
demon is showing is by telling one he uses broad terms that are immediately familiar. We all know what February is like we all know the morning routine of suburbia andhe takes just a couple of sentences to get that going so that we have not just a setting but a movement. We understand that this is a time where everything's moving. Hedidn't describe the chilly air at the beginning he didn't even really describe the movements of the actors here. He did but not to any great degree that in dominantnarrative.
The picture is painted in you understand the picture right away because you've already seen it. So when you start the story when you start a story rather one way to getthe scene to get into the scene quickly is to hint at the things in your environment that would be familiar to everyone you know. Don't be obvious about it remember yourmain job is to set the tone in the rhythm of your story which in my opinion it's most important thing in your story
so don't go being obvious about pointing out familiar things only do it if it's important. But that beginning is more it's more important than the climax or the end. Becausewithout the proper beginning your narrative will fall on blind eyes. If you won't you will not have set up your whole story properly and then nothing else is going to carry theillusion of reality you'll have lost your reader and this is something Damon does to great effect. He puts us in the scene very quickly not by showing us movements not byoverlong descriptions
but by by giving us something familiar to hold onto and it's a great tactic it's a great technique and I think you should you should use it and mimic Mint as best you can.More in the short story than the novel The novel has you know has more pages and has more breadth you can get. You can spend a little bit more time opening things upbut even then in the first you know two or three pages you want to keep that shit tight you want to keep you want to keep detail you want to keep unnecessary detail outof this
not a whole lot of us are capable of doing what John Updike does and he gets into detail greatly but he doesn't do it as much as you think he does. When we go back andread Updike we think oh yes he's you know he sees the plain and simple the way in a very beautiful way and indeed he does but in our minds we think he goes on and onabout it but he really does you go back and look at John Updike stuff he never spends more than a sentence on describing something unless it's very very important tothe story.
He doesn't do what we think he does he gives us an illusion it creates an illusion out in our mind because he uses the perfect words he uses the perfect rhythm of hisevery last line of his narrative is somehow poetic and we see it like that and he does an amazing thing. Game and
he does something like
God Try not to be a dick or really it's so hard against type.
Game does the same thing he doesn't. A little bit quicker and a little less flair. And there's nothing wrong with that in fact is preferable. But he does get to it quickly
and he doesn't waste any time setting up scenes scenes in the sense of paintings you know he doesn't give you an idea of the background a lot of fantasy authors willjust put you in a blank room and get you go with the situation and that's perfectly acceptable too. It's more common in fantasy and science fiction than it is in literature
but getting into the story does not mean making us see it it means making us understand it. And that's far different than making a CD and that's why I'm not a proponentor I do not toss around a show don't tell because your job is not to make a C. Your job is to make us understand and that's a lot harder
in your game and does a great job of it here. OK Number two
this is going to sound like a dig and it kind of is but it's a technique and one a lot of people use adjectives. Number two adjectives lots of adjectives.
Look he'll use it to color his objects and incidentally he uses colors a lot as a quick means of acquiring verisimilitude
or a facsimile verisimilitude
you know you want to put out a facsimile of verisimilitude. Well this next one is frond to illustrate his adjective use in it's not always a bad thing.
Adverbs would be pretty bad if you use too many of those but listen he does that too and that's a style that's what he does. There's nothing wrong
in here I'm just trying to be cool I'm trying to not lose it. This one's called out. Who were in the chair. Now it's not. That's the wrong story for this one this was calledclosing time. This is another thing that I want to illustrate how gaming uses adjectives to pretty good effect here. Here's a piece from that there are still clubs in London oldones and mock old with elderly sofas and crackling fireplaces newspapers and traditions of speech or of silence and new clams clubs. The Groucho and its many knockoffs or actors and journalists go to be seen to drink to enjoy their glowering solitude and even to talk. I have friends in both kinds of clubs but I'm not myself a member ofany club in London. Not anymore. This is the first paragraph of the story called closing time.
We see here in the second sentence he's talking about there still being old clubs and he caused a mock old elderly sofas crackling fireplace as newspapers and traditionsof speech are signs of the new clubs and I'm knockoffs and we see here that
he is applying adjectives very subtly in a very well in fact you wouldn't know it on your first glance because there are not huge adjectives and even uses you knowcrackling You know when you use present participles and you kind of glance over as an actual adjective you don't really see it as an adjective it's just you know cracklingfireplaces or moving parts now it is describing the noun. But you tend to pass over it a little easier when it's a present participle. And that's a really nit picky that's a reallysmall thing here but if we go on I don't read too much because I don't know how much you can read and I can fuckin sued so I don't want to go on but if you read ityourself the story called closing time you'll see that there's quite a. If you adjective sprinkled us are there and there are a lot of his stories that have a lot of adjective use.He uses color a lot. His objects are almost always colored and this can be useful. I would encourage the writer to use other attributes especially when it's obvious whatthe color is. And one of these stories. Naming takes a couple of sentences to tell us I wish I can remember the name of it but I don't hunt through it. He takes a couple ofsentences to tell us how green the grass is and he describes it like the pitch
of a cricket field. And listen we know the grass is green. So if you were going to describe if you're going to spend some time talking about something as plain as grassthen we need to have some other kind of attribute. We know it's green and there's no new kind of green that you going to tell us about when describing grass. You couldyou could call grass sharp. And you can you know sort of round up the fact that we call each piece of grass a blade
but because the carpet metaphor is cliche you don't want to see carpet anymore you find something unique find something you you know we can describe that we candescribe crabgrass as the shag rug with which Mother Nature surrounds her groovy Canada spends you know mother to mother nature than cannabis Union hippie shagrug all kind of comics and you know I mean I don't use that one it's stupid it's silly and my point is if you're going to call it something very plain. B B really unique about itbe sure that no one can describe it the way you describe
I'm trying to calm down here. All right I'm going to make it through make. It's through without being a total prick. Number three
and this one is actually this is no one else does this like game. So number three take great leaps of imagination without stopping to explain yourself a game and does areally good job of staying on track with his stories even though he takes huge leaps of imagination and this this is this is why I think this is why people read him. It's one ofthe main reasons why people read him I think the main reason is actually number five. But staying on track after great leaps of imagination is not easy because if youthink about it he comes from a very simple place and then gets very imaginative quickly now how do you connect the two and
we can see in Harlequin Valentine the one
with February in suburbia and the guy nails his heart to the door.
He doesn't tell you anything about why this character Harlequin exists
or he doesn't tell us why the character can't be seen or why he can walk through walls or later on he possesses a person who possesses a homeless guy. Nothing isexplained and this is a fantastic principle to follow because you realize no one cares how your universe works. Nobody cares you care and you need to care. That's partof the job but the reader now you know shit. They only care about the people in your universe they care about the people and they care about what they do they don'tcare about how it works so much
you can't make it so Landis that there you lose them. Of course but then again there's a way to do that. Stephen King knows it all the time. You know gaming does it allthe time. If I think about Rogers allows me and his Chronicles of Amber. I think that is Amber something adventures in Amber I can't know what it is. Great leaps ofimagination but he builds a universe where you believe it and he makes the rules and he never quite explains exactly how it works and you believe it and it's entertainingand it's written well. The lesson he was one of the masters of fantasy I think
this goes for literary stories as well I don't mean to get on fantasy but you know gaming is mainly a fantasy writer but for you literary guys we don't need to know why atleast in the beginning we really didn't know why your main character is you know so happy or so angry or so upset we don't even know why he gets that tattoo of thetongue
on his chest that looks like a huge missile. You ever seen one of those like they just make that it's made up.
I'm picturing a huge tongue. It's also a missile I don't know why
but I imagine. OK on the ice chest and then and then below there's like a windswept banner that says dropping bombs on lickin moms you know in cursive
you know tell us all that none of the beginning unless it comes into the story. We get it you know you get a tattoo and he's a he's violent because he drops bombs and helikes small arms that's what he does get it. So
if they give us insight into your character at the beginning and you want to be kind of funny about it yeah. Do something like that but don't go into describing how he gotthe tattoo and what colors were used and how the tattoo artist had just finished a turkey sandwich and it must have been like black pepper Turkey because there was ahint of pepper
that he smelled and it was familiar.
Get it out and say you can take great leaps meaning a guy walking down the street and you all of a sudden talking about a tattoo you can take that leap without explainingeverything and if you say it like you believe it the audience will believe it. Allow things to happen. Let things you choose to describe speak for themselves. If you findyourself having to explain you've done a bad job of developing your character go back and just tell us what happened. Only explain if it's necessary. And by the way thereshouldn't be too many things in your story that do not drive the plot forward. There's a little bit more leeway in literary works
the more you know New Yorker works is a lot of room for that kind of stuff and there should be there should be room for for everything. So again look if you find yourselfmired in exposition or trying to explain yourself and you're in you're always in a back story. Then you might be telling the wrong part of the story. You might have gone offtrack and you might need to go back and get yourself back on track and it will come with taking things out because you've gone too far or you've done too muchexplaining.
I cannot tell you how many times I've had to do this. The writer needs to stay on story as much as possible. The longer you take to explain the less real your universe willbe because your reader has asked for the weather and you've given him the history of Meteorology. So keep it to the story. Only go off if you have to and even then if youhave to keep it really narrow and get back as soon as you can. Number four
and this is essential. There is a number for those actually. Until
five. Oh yeah it is number four. All good writers do this and that is and I say it a lot. Geymann does it to great effect to select four times for some different to say more on
that right. Concretely before the game is very good at this and what I mean by concrete and I mean his voice should be not serious but authoritative because gamingdoes have jocularity in his voice and that's a mistake a bull especially when he writes in the third person and there's a there's a definite lightness to the way he writes.That doesn't mean he doesn't write authoritatively He absolutely does. The reader when he reads game and he or she reads game and the reader is convinced rightaway that the narrator and his characters are telling things how they see them. The narrator is in essence telling the reader this is exactly what happened. I am telling youwhat happened from my point of view. You know there's always that apparent Oedipal statement from my point of view there is a point of view the narrator has one but weneed to be convinced
that whoever's speaking is speaking with some amount of authority.
Oh and the author needs to have an unquestionable authority. And this is how we teach the reader to read our work you can read any Neil Gaiman's story and get a reallygood idea how he does this and I don't I don't I don't want to go on with examples here but pick up any story by him and he will teach you how to read him. And that's oneof the marks of a really good popular writer. That's what he does he will teach you how to read his work and
I'm trying to come up with. SAMPLER here
to be concrete means to say what you mean so I'm going to do the opposite. So let's say
you are skirting around the way something looks right. You'll you'll say something like the flower was blue to some but Violet to others. Now what have you done with thatone simple sentence. You have one. Wasted the time wasted the time of the reader on describing something that's not really that important. And till you've given yourreader a reason to take everything you write from now on with some measure of doubt
and no one no one appreciates an equivocating narrator or like an ambiguous storyteller you can't tell what's going on you can't track it and you put the book downbecause I can but when there's more books out there why am I reading this guy who cannot tell me what happened.
Now take an example of an actual narrative. Now I wrote this down before because I wanted to make sure I get this point across. So here's something ridiculous that Iwrote in the biker bar stinking of some mixture of stale beer and whiskey covered nipples. Johnny went to the back where he thought the restrooms might be and askedthe guy guarding the door who one might say it was rather overdressed for a biker if he could see the boss. The Guard responded with what sounded to Johnny like ableeding like the bleeding of a sarcastic not until you have a lick of my whiskey MIPS he said somewhat hotly. Now could you track him down with and could you trackwith that narrative. It was clumsy it was all over the place in you. You come away from that not I mean go back and listen to it. You come away with it going when whatyou CAN happen there
because it was a bunch of equivocation there was stinking of some mixture of stale beer and whiskey covered nipples. That's right I said nipples. Keep it entertaining. Allright
and then Johnny went to the back where he thought the restrooms might be and I asked the guy guarding the door who one might say it was rather overdressed for abiker if he could see the bus. Now this is not simply jumping into subjunctive moods here. That's not everything. We are being flaky because we are not being concrete.Now here is my next example cleaned up concretely. OK
So would've been better written like this. Johnny went to the back of the bar. The carpet was damp and every step released the smell of the stale alcohol had collectedover the last forty years past the bathrooms there was a door blocked by the best dressed biker Johnny had ever seen. I want to see the boss and he said you'll have tolick my whiskey laced nipples first. The guard said. Deal said Johnny
now it was shorter. We understood would happen. We knew where the bathrooms were we knew who was blocking. Everything was said as if that's what it really was andthere's no need to interject point of view or opinions or what Johnny might have seen you merely state what was there and we believe it.
I don't know why I picked whisky laced nipples I don't know why I just try to keep it interesting all right.
So look Johnny went to the back of the bar I was the first sentence. We know where he went. You know where was the carpet was damp and every step released thesmell of the stale alcohol it had collected over the last forty years now we have a picture of what it was like
we have a picture of him moving and we have a picture of the way the place is right. What the bar smells like and what kind of clientele I might carry. Now we're past thebathrooms there was a door blocked. Or the best dressed biker Johnny had ever seen. I want to see the boss Johnny said
you know I was going to
be direct to be concrete. It's the only way to convince your reader you're telling him or her the truth. And look after you've been writing for a while you begin to see howimportant your job really is in the grand scheme of artistry. We're here to tell things like we see and experience them using tools like fabrication and exaggeration but it'sthe part where we exaggerate and fabricate that puts a microscope on life. We magnify the truth in fiction so we can see it better. You know we
we also condensed passages we condemned the passage of time rather
so that we can look at life under a single microscopic lens we can get a really good look at life. If we make time pass quickly in fiction.
We look at fictions sells you know it's membranes it's mitochondria it's overworked nucleus. That's our job
and if you waver in that fabrication you'll lose the reader. And as we all know gaming rarely loses a reader. That's why he sells books and read up on this is what we canlearn from him. Now
all of that only comes through writing concrete sentences because the truth is concrete and it's also cracked and it can be broken and it can be reformed and thatanything you make it into as long as you can make someone believe it. I think Garcia Marquez said that you can write anything as long as you can make someonebelieve it
and I mean to get too philosophical there and bring it down keep it peppy keep it light keep it happy but snappy.
All right. So the final thing and this is just as important as anything else and it would turn your reader off very quickly if you had
one sort of one dimensional dialogue. So Number five is to give your dialogue personality. I got this last story. It's going to be the beginning again because I don't want toget sued. So we don't have any money. Number five Give your dialogue personality this is out of October in the chair and my edition it's Page twenty nine
and it begins like this. October was in the chair so it was chilly that evening and the leaves are red and orange and tumbled from the trees that circled the grove thetwelve of them sat around a campfire roasting huge sausages on sticks which spat and crackled as the fat dripped on to the burning apple wood and drinking fresh applecider Taney and tart in their mouths. April took on a dainty bite from her sausage would burst open as she bit into it spilling hot juice down her chin. The Shrew assertorder on it she said. Squat March sitting next to her laughed low and dirty and then pulled out a huge filthy handkerchief and you go he said. April wiped her chin. Thanksshe said. The cursed bag of energy burned me. I'll have a poster there tomorrow September yawned. You're such a hypochondriac he said cross the fire and suchlanguage. He had a pencil thin mustache and was balding in the front which made his forehead seem high and wise layoff or same said May Her dark hair was croppedshort against her school and she wore a sensible boots. She smoked a small brown cigarette low and smelled heavily of cloves. She sensitive. Oh puh leeze Septemberspare me
I'm going to stop there that's the first page. Now as we go on.
Everybody gets a chance to speak or just about everybody and we hear how he uses dialogue that is everybody in the story has a different personality and he does agreat job of giving them different voices they all have distinct personalities and we can all hear it in their voices it's not a great reader out loud so in his narrative it comesoff a little bit better because to do him justice here
but we don't give you know we don't give our characters personality in the dialogue by giving them quirks it's a total cop out to give people quirks and it should be donethat way. And all what I mean by quirks is like Lisp's or silly affectations or like they roll their eyes every time someone says something
you know by personality I mean you can tell who's speaking without attribution or like a physical description. You do you do it at first as you can read their you know youhave to do it at first but as the conversations go on it's pretty easy to tell who's talking. In the novel you have a lot more time to do this and by the middle of your novel Imean you know fifty sixty thousand words and we should have a good idea of how or what characters would sound like or will sound like when they speak of the possiblebut less possible in the short story what a novel should be easy for a skilled writer.
I'm looking and it's hard to know if you've done this successfully a good exercise is to write a conversation between two of your characters and see if you can tell himapart after a couple of pages. Is that something Johnny would say or that's definitely something the boss would say and you just sort of go through it go through yourdialogue like that without the attributions and make sure that everything they say is something that your character would actually say and you know so. People go on withthe dialogue and she really cut it down dialogue reads like action and it reads suspenseful. Sometimes people skip the narratives and just read the dialogue. So if
you find people doing that that's a very bad thing. But maybe your dialogue is OK you know if you find that your strength is in your dialogue hold back a little bit. Use itand use it to give your
your scenes in your narrative a little bit of a punch don't over use it. So there you go. I guess I should go through again so number one was Don't waste time on yoursurroundings right. Number two on how to write like you know game an adjective sounds like a dig I know
but it's one way to do it use a lot of adjectives. Number three take great leaps of imagination without stopping to explain yourself. That's a tough one but the best writersdo it. Number four is to write concretely in number five is to give your characters. While personality in that dialogue which is difficult but it can be done and it can be doneby you folks.
There wasn't a bad one that I was too much of it was
a little bit what ma'am I am. I like Neil Gaiman's I like his personality. I've listened to a couple interviews like this and look little separate to do and I love my thing is got agreat personality.
Stop stop yourself now you know again it's a he's a fine writer he deserves every last bit of success he has and I wish him the absolute best and if you could rub some ofthat success off on me be glad to write it. Just kidding I'm kidding I'm kidding that's a right lecture he's a great writer. A.W.L. So dot com I thank you guys for tuning in. Ifyou want to if you like the program now and listen I know I get I get a certain way but it's done you know in a fun spirit I don't mean anything by it and I certainly if I metyour game and I wouldn't say man I don't like your books but I like you and I would say that that is just how would you know I wouldn't even talk to him I'd be too nervous.Anyway it will be your shot at a calm Dan A.W.L. show if you'd like to get in touch with me and then have me answer your questions or if you want just to talk books or ifyou have a new book that you'd like me to talk about on the show written by you and by someone else I'd be glad to do it if you know it's literary work and we can allbenefit from it. I'd love to hear about. Thank you guys. Once again for spreading the moon's forgiveness double the downloads just about every week and that
means a lot to me because I know the show can get crass and sometimes and I know I have a potty mouth then and I don't want to hold it back and I want to hold back Ijust want to be I want to be myself I want to be able to say what I want to say about books and about writing and for the most part everybody has been just great about.
All right guys I again I appreciate it. And next week we'll see you right back here. And lest the boy drives me out of my right
time. Time for
a Plan B.