Saturday, June 28, 2014

The New New

I’ll soon announce my involvement in a new literary project with ambitious goals. It will be a campaign not of activism, but art. It will follow a principle of unilateral peace toward former antagonists. I’m prepared, in fact, to work with anyone and everybody.

Past is past.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How Does One Build a Better Literature?

WHAT KIND of team would be needed to credibly challenge status quo literature? What mix of talents? Strategy and tactics?

CAN the status quo be challenged? While their attitude is unchanging, unassailable, they’re standing on quicksand.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Short Story Ingredients


Any time I write a short story, I’m reminded that fiction is a careful mix of ingredients. For it to work, the mixture must achieve some kind of balance. In my new ebook I’ve created a complex structure in order to explain a complex plot. To be able to do this, and keep the tale moving, I’ve skimped in parts on description and characterization. 

There are two versions of my story. First the “Director’s Cut,” and then a reworking, the “Producer’s Cut.” In my reworking I removed some insight into the characters, but also any trace of self-indulgent “fine writing.” I’ve done this to maintain pace—but there’s the danger of having too much pace. I’ve had to add short bits when I needed to slow things down. Complexity and flow? Perfect balance? It may not be possible. “Modernist Pop” is almost an oxymoron—but I’m nothing if not ambitious.

What’s left in? What’s cut? That defines the art of the art. Not everything can be jammed into one work. There are only so many words in one story.

(“Assassination of X” is now available at Amazon’s Kindle Store  Barnes and Noble’s Nook Books.)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Three Ways to Write a Story


1.) Start writing and allow the story to create itself.

In movies, shoot the world and find a theme. European directors like Fellini, Godard, and the Neorealists did this.

2.) Outline your story or novel step-by-step, setting up everything in advance. Know where you’re going and where you’ll end.

In movies, this is the storyboard technique used by Alfred Hitchcock and George Lucas. No surprises.

3.) Write a ton of material (or shoot a ton of footage) around a chosen subject—then eliminate, rearrange, edit, to discover what works best.

Film directors George Stevens and Orson Welles, among others, worked like this.


With my own recent writing I’ve tried all three ways.

In ebook novellas CRIME CITY USA and THE MCSWEENEYS GANG I used way #1.

With THE TOWER, I designed and plotted the entire novel in advance. The ending was the first part I wrote. Way #2.

With my new work, my “prototype,” ASSASSINATION OF X, I used Way #3. I wrote more than 20,000 words on the event the tale is about. I knocked this down to 15,000 words to patch together a narrative. My first version. Then I eliminated more of it.

I find it’s the hardest way to write. To complicate matters I used a few new tricks-- “literary montage”—learning to use new tools; discovering the excitement of mastering a more difficult skill.

I hope the result is worth the effort.

Buy ASSASSINATION OF X at Kindle or Nook.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Modernist Pop


My newest ebook, Assassination of X, is now available at both Amazon’s Kindle Store and BN’s Nook Books. (Links at left.) It’s my first experimental prototype to make it out of the shop. I have others in the planning stage.

What are my objectives?

1.) To convey ideas.

2.) To engage the broader culture.

3.) To make reading a new experience. To view the world—through the prism of fiction—with fresh eyes.

4.) To present new ways of creating the literary art.

5.) To be readable.

6.) To carry a punch.

7.) Or, to write an intelligent story without alienating the reader. A difficult task, but not impossible.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Not a Pop Writer


As I’ve long argued at this blog, there are two kinds of fiction writers in America now. The cookie-cutter genre novelist, whose work seems stamped from an auto parts stamping factory, or the “literary writer,” whose work is just as predictable and generic, only less readable, more pretentious, and deliberately unexciting.

I’ve argued for the kind of “pop lit” that’ll bridge the divide. An increasing number of writers are arguing likewise—and more, trying to themselves create that new kind of fiction which can be “pop” fast and entertaining, but also meaningful and relevant at the same time. It’s an ambitious quest and a difficult enterprise.

Former zine writer Ann Sterzinger once showed promise at creating new pop fiction. She wrote short-but-powerful stories which were dramatic and moved at a good pace. They were fun, often upsetting, always fascinating reads.

Then Ann decided to become “educated.” In the process she adopted the worst aspects of the academy-spawned literati.

That’s my conclusion anyway after reading about a third, so far, of one of Ann’s recent Nine Band Books novels, NVSQVAM (Nowhere).

The novel is an interminable narrative consisting mostly of Henry James-style interior monologues filled with doctoral-student banalities—most dialogue put in italics to further alienate the general reader. The objective is to impress rather than enlighten, much less (gasp!) entertain.

The viewpoint is impossibly solipsistic. The novel includes footnotes. Footnotes! A la everyone’s favorite unreadable author David Foster Wallace. “Look at Me!” the writer is saying. “I know something.” (Or, I did not completely waste the dollars spent on my education.)

There’s the ghost of a good story buried under the verbiage. Plenty of cynicism and wit—diluted by the banality of life. Likely the banality is the point—but who needs to read it? We live it. Most of us read to escape from the mundane and the disappointing.

An excerpt:

“He wasn’t walking toward the health center quite yet; he was walking
toward the big pink mall that squatted across the highway from the Wal-
Mart. He had planned to spend the morning editing his dissertation, but
two clauses into it his head had begun to pound. He thought at first that
he was dying of a stroke, but the pounding stopped whenever he looked
away from the computer screen. So he turned it off—why bother, when
the review committee would dutifully find fault no matter what?—and
found time on his hands. He had needed to buy new walking shoes for
months. He asked himself why, if he really needed a shrink, the mild
irony of walking through traffic to the mall so he could buy walking
shoes didn’t upset him more.”

In and of itself, it’s a fine paragraph. Well written, wise-eyed and all that—but unendurable when there are two hundred other finely written paragraphs just like it.

The old maxims of writing hold true. SHOW us on occasion, don’t just tell us. FIND a proper mix of narrative and scene. Bring pictures of what’s happening to the mind’s eye. Create a plot. Plant hooks. Have pace. BE dramatic.

There’s no effort to impose structure—sense and order—on the writing. That would be too condescending. Too beneath the intelligent writer, whose sense of intelligence, expressed solipsistically, is all. (Yet design—structure—is an expression of intelligence.)

Here I was worried about the readability of my new novella (ASSASSINATION OF X) and worked to impose order on the viewpoints and ideas—chapter numbers and the like-- so that the unwary reader stumbling upon it would be able to follow what’s happening. But let’s not bring that much-scorned creature the reader into the equation!

And so books written with clarity—no matter how shitty—control the marketplace, while authors capable of writing intelligently vomit out their intelligence in a stream of nonsensical consciousness, lest they’re thought to be pandering to the demands of the marketplace. It’s a willful need for obscurity.


(I Challenge Ann, and anyone else, to write a pop story that’s intelligent, fast-paced, dramatic and entertaining. I know someone putting together a new project who’ll be looking for such stories. People, please let me know if you or anyone you know can create that new story: can give us exciting new art.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2014


This is to announce the release of my new fiction ebook, Assassination of X. It’s now available at Amazon’s Kindle Store. I expect it to also soon be available at Nook Books.

What’s it about? That’s given in the title to this post.

My goal with the novella was twofold. To move at breakneck speed, and to leave the reader wanting more. Whether I achieve that or not is for you to judge.

Get ASSASSINATION OF X. New pop fiction of a kind you’ve never read.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Did I Edit Too Much?

Does the narrative of my new ebook, Assassination of X, move too fast? I might've been thinking as I wrote it, "race car."

The ebook is available at Amazon's Kindle Store, if you care to take a look.  (It's a mystery story, of sorts.)

(A link to Amazon is on this page.)