Tag Archives: emotions

Is it a breakthrough, or a breakdown?

Our best laid plans didn’t work out. I figured a party on the Basque block would make for some good blog fodder. The appeal, for us, was the paella. This is a saffron rice dish made with clams, chicken, and chorizo. The pan they use is large enough for several adults to slide down a snowy slope. I own a paella pan that could hold a fair deep dish pizza, for comparison sake.

My wife got a text from a friend. The line was two and a half blocks long, and it was over 100 degrees in the shade. We went to one of our favorite little dive places for beer and a steak, and air conditioning. I may have to make my own paella if I can find the correct rice. You have to use the right kind.

This is a long winded way of saying I need a different topic today. I decided to make it about writing, in a round about way. I’m going to talk about Alice Cooper again. You can substitute your favorite balladeer.

Music is a great source of inspiration for me. I find ideas everywhere, but rarely talk about music. I grew up about the time disco became popular. My friends and I all hated disco music. We owned copies of Aerosmith Rocks, and every album Kiss ever put out. Alice Cooper was always my personal favorite.

After the concert Tuesday night, I downloaded a whole bunch of Cooper’s music. These are the album cuts I loved when I was younger. My vinyl, eight tracks, and cassettes are long gone. I may still have a CD lurking around somewhere.

Cooper was fortunate to work in an era where the album was king. Several of his albums tell a story from start to finish. This isn’t possible in our one-song-at-a-time era. In fact, From The Inside may be one of the greatest albums of all time.

Listening to this music as a writer puts a whole different spin on the music. Sure, Cooper has the advantage of sound and chords to inspire different emotions. I have to add emotion in different ways, but I get more words to tell my tales.

When I listened to the song The Quiet Room something struck me. This album is about being inside an insane asylum, and was based upon an alcohol rehab stint Cooper lived through. The lyrics are: How long have I been gone? Did winter kill the lawn?

It hit me; this is all about character. Who asks if winter killed the lawn? It tells me a ton about the character without having to go into incredible detail. Five words and I’m completely sucked in. Now I need to figure out how to do it myself.

Another song is called I Might As Well Be On Mars. It’s about a man who loves a woman who rejected him. He’s on the roof of a building looking at the stars. He looks down and sees cars. The setting is magnificent. What will he do? Is he a jumper? He spots the woman through the window of her favorite bar. I’ve been that guy. I was enamored of someone who never knew I existed.

There’s a lesson here about more than setting, which was great. It relates to me on a personal level. I’ll bet almost everyone has been in that situation at one time or another.

It’s a blog post, so I’m only going to touch upon these two songs. Sure, Cooper is all about dark humor, and there’s plenty of that in other cuts. The guy recorded with Vincent Price before Michael Jackson knew what a zombie even was.

I heard that good stories are all about delivering a powerful emotional experience. (PEE) I’m the kind of guy who has to see it happen before I really get it. I may be on the verge of a breakthrough here.

Emotions can be any kind as long as the reader gets sucked in. It isn’t only about love. Rage, fear, pity, disgust, lust, and depression are all emotions too.

Okay, one more. There is a love song called Millie and Billie. These two are batshit crazy, and they know it. Cooper presents the tale from deep point of view. (Think dialog mostly.) They know they’re crazy, but don’t understand why the things they do are wrong. There is no authorial intrusion, it’s all from the character’s point of view. No preaching allowed or needed. It’s a boy and a girl, I can relate, I follow along. I don’t relate to what they did to her husband, but it’s too late to back out now. I think this is good storytelling.

Note: I also had an epiphany. I hadn’t heard this song in twenty years. I may have borrowed a line from it in one of my upcoming short stories. The difference is I used Mason jars instead of baggies. I’m going to leave the sentence in place. Those of you with an advance reading copy can search “Mason jars” and find it.

I don’t know if the lesson is about a great hook, a PEE, setting, or what. I feel like I’m about to have a writing breakthrough. Maybe I’d better turn on my music and let Alice take me to Hell again.

How about you guys? Is there a lesson here? Is there more than one? Weigh in, maybe you can clarify my breakthrough.


Filed under Writing

It was one of those days off

I’m sure you’ve all had them. I’m behind on everything in life. My recent work trip has me behind at the office. I haven’t been able to work on my manuscript in weeks, and this is my prime directive.

I haven’t completed my work from the last critique group, and it’s time to start reading submissions for the next one. I laced up my work boots and dove in.

First I went through Twitter and tried to follow everyone who helped in the push day for Panama. I was thrilled to discover a five star review of the book this morning. Some of them are still pushing today. I’m kind of overwhelmed with the support I’ve gotten here. Suggestion to writers: check out the Rave Reviews Book Club. You can find my books under the “science fiction, fantasy, paranormal” category.

Rachel Carrera asked if she could read the draft of The Playground, (so far). She provided some outstanding suggestions, and I finally got around to addressing those.

I grabbed up my critiques and went to work on Will ‘O the Wisp. Four guys all see something different, and it was all helpful. It took me some time to expand Patty’s (MC) emotions about the old desk she inherited. I know you don’t get it, but it’s an important part of the story. You can read all about it on a Kindle near you, probably early next year. Check critique stuff off the list.

Most of the guys have submitted their next chapters for critique group. I decided to do the same. Plus or minus 3000 words emailed to the other members.

My truck’s in the shop, so I’m afoot today. They called and my fender is cracked, not just scratched. Add a few more dollars to the repair cost. “Would you guys trade it for a story about the Panama Canal?” Just joking. Dad’s picking up the tab; he’s the one that crashed into me.

I kept looking over my shoulder all day. I expected Lorelei, my Muse, to show me her idea of the ice bucket challenge. She never made an appearance. She expects new words on my days off.

I’m off until next Tuesday. I’ll get a few chances at new words on paper. Then I can find out how much more behind I am at the office.

Now I have to decide which Macabre Macaroni story I’m posting tomorrow. Thank God I pre wrote them all. I still make a pass over them before I post. It’s going to be hard to match the furor that went along with last week, but I’m going to try. This means laying in the fetal position and hope everyone likes it.

It’s almost time to harass my cover artist again. I wanted The Cock of the South out by October, but that ship has sailed. It was an arbitrary deadline anyway. It probably needs another read through before publishing.

I also have the goal of finishing up reading my Harry Dresden book. Then I need to read some more indie stuff. I’ve made a couple of commitments and want to honor them.

I’m thinking of today like house cleaning. The place sparkles and my imaginary friends can all visit tomorrow.


Filed under Writing