Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Prototype

I COMPARE writing a story to creating a car. I want to design a story which looks unlike any story ever seen—yet remains capable of motoring at a good clip down the street.

As a writer and reader, speed (pace) thrills me.

My latest design is out on a test drive track. I want to see how it handles before I release it. Any auto shows I can display it at?

It’s a unique design, though it doesn’t go all the way in new design. Merely has new features. It’s packed with ideas. The reader might find a standard narrative in the story’s body.

A straight narrative can go fast and be exciting. See “The Red Door” in my ebook Ten Pop Stories. My new story is 15,000 words. Fast, not full-size (novel length), but not a mini-sportster either. The new features are intended to help the underlying tale go faster—and become more breathtaking. How it uses time is key.

(There’s the chance the story will instead appear misshapen.)

A story as wild ride?

That’s the objective. To make an Alice Munro kind of story look like a Model T. If I haven’t quite achieved the objective with my prototype, I hope to at least point the way toward future offerings. The story design shop I run is ongoing.

The Writing

For those still interested in the matter, I’ve given up warring with the literary establishment. I vow even to resist the temptation to shred known propagandists who’ve smeared me. (Won’t be easy.) What currently motivates me? Only writing—the writing.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Other Choice Part I


The media doesn’t give you the other choice. The unorthodox or unexpected solution. You have to find that yourself.

Example: There was much talk this past football (NFL) season about the best young quarterback. Who’s the best young quarterback?

Is it: Colin Kaepernick? Andrew Luck? Superbowl winner Russell Wilson? Robert Griffin III? Cam Newton, by chance?

The correct answer is none of them. The best young quarterback is Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Stats prove it. In the past season, despite not playing all the games, Nick Foles had a record of 27 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. This is Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers territory. As passers, none of the more highly touted other young quarterbacks comes close.

Stats alone don’t tell the story, of course. What struck me as much as the stats is a video of Nick Foles shooting an impromptu basket on the Dan Patrick Show:

Note how far away he’s standing. To me, it’s a demonstration of remarkable hand-eye coordination. Which being a quarterback is about. The 27-2 ratio isn’t so surprising after all. But the media is so caught up with the other guys, it seems to have missed Nick Foles.

(To be continued.)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

All I Want Is the Truth

SONMETIMES I’m in the mood for a good rant. Especially when encountering nonstop lies from commentators on both the Left and the Right, each with their own axe to grind. There are few great rants in literature to find, mainly because they’re never wanted by an establishment, but a good rant expresses outrage and also a joy in language.

One of the best of them in the music world is this song by John Lennon, “Gimme Some Truth.”

The refrain is all I’ve ever wanted. I suspect many people feel the same.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rule Breaking


What rules should be broken when creating the new short story?

The current literary story uses sparse dialogue.

The new story should use much dialogue.

The current story focuses on the personal.

The new story should emphasize the public.

The acceptable story uses much description.

The new story should give a minimum of it. (Less is more.)

The old story has minimal action.

The new story should embrace action when it makes the plot and theme exciting.

Plot? A lot of it.

Themes need to go deeper than the delicate points of lit stories.

Instead of a single viewpoint, the new story should give every viewpoint, and do so in a minimum of space.

Is all this impossible?

Not at all. It may, in fact, be ridiculously simple.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Outside MFA versus New York

THERE HAVE BEEN  a spate of articles online about the latest goofy n+1 idea, now available in book form, called “MFA versus New York.” This has to be the most ridiculous statement made by any group of writers, at least since 2008, when the n+1 crowd publicly predicted “the end of oil”— right before vast new pools of oil were discovered across the globe, and new technologies created for obtaining it.

Their latest discussion is ridiculous because it ignores exciting real change in the literary realm: the rise of self-published ebooks.

At least some literary commentators recognize that both worlds of MFA workshops and New York “Big Six” publishing are in collapse, such as this article by Sonia Saraiya, “The Bleak State of American Fiction.”

But even Sonia Saraiya is wearing blinders. She ignores ebooks and the DIY world, and refuses to consider new options. Namely, creating fiction which can be pop and “literary” (significant) BOTH. The future won’t be bleak for those who discover a way out.

Anyway, there’s more intelligence presented in the Comments section to Saraiya’s article than in the entirety of the new n+1 book.


(An aside: Doesn’t n+1’s very title scream “pseudo-intellectual”? You just know these are the same kind of people to be found blatantly reading Derrida or other unreadable tome at the local overpriced hipster coffeehouse or bar.)

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

About Style

Today's "literary" fiction is ostensibly all about style instead of substance-- but what kind of style? The mass of workshop fiction being produced gives us monostyle. It all looks and sounds the same-- due no doubt to the homogenizing nature of the workshop process, and the stale influence of the stodgy house New Yorker style. (This holds true, incidentally, to the approved reviewed writers in New York, most of whom came out of MFA programs.)

Absent are writers who take chances-- writers aren't allowed to take chances. And so, there's no melodrama, color, rants-- no over-the-top EMOTION that could energize the art. (The kind of work I tried to promote when I was running the Underground Literary Alliance.)

To use an analogy from the movie world, look at the flicks James Dean made with Elia Kazan and Nicholas Ray, "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause." They're hyperemotional, melodramatic, utterly stylized. Today the films and acting styles no doubt appear dated-- but at the time they were blows against conformity. They engaged the public and enlivened the art.

Are there young writers-- who should be hyperemotional, not robots!-- who can do the same for the literary art? It would mean breaking the rules. It wouldn't be allowed.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

The New Hybrid

I’m an experimental writer. Mine are a different kind of experiment. My goal is the true hybrid story, pop and literary both.

Read my fiction ebooks, Ten Pop Stories, Crime City USA, The Tower, and you’ll see a variety of attacks in this direction, from different angles. The pop story needs to be readable and exciting, with good pace. The trick is to make it innovative and intelligent from a literary standpoint, with deeper meaning. Not solely entertainment, but also art.

I have two new hybrid prototypes on the drawing board. A simpler one, and one more complex. Both will try new approaches to the short story; new ideas. The objective is to present a story unlike any before seen. Art which is aesthetically revolutionary. More, a new kind of fiction: literature which people want to read. Need to read.

No small task!