I’m reading an old Michael Gilbert novel called End Game which has a rat bastard protagonist. David Morgan is hard-drinking, insensitive, and immoral, a man who comes in late to work, late to dinner, and stays late to search the boss’s office. He picks fights with his girlfriend who supports him financially, deliberately upsets a fussy, older woman at work who rightfully suspects him of slacking off and drinking on the job, sleeps around, and picks the locks of people who trust him to read private files about a business titan named Blackett. He’s a creep. The first time I read the book, I thought, “Why am I reading about this guy?” and kept reading anyway. The next time I read it, I looked at the plot which was as finely tuned as any of Gilbert’s stories. This time I read it just for that bastard protagonist: Why would any reader (especially a woman reader) stay in a story with David Morgan?
First, thank you all VERY much for the feedback. It’s enormously helpful, and I have made the changes noted. Never apologize for nit-picking, that’s practically the definition of copy editing. Continue reading
An article in yesterday’s Washington Post talks about the “new glasses” effect: watching favorite old movies through the news lens of #MeToo. It’s something I’ve been dealing with lately in my reading, something I’m trying to deal with in my own work. The problem is partly the difference between “It was a product of its time” and “It’s a product of a time that was toxic and is therefore now unacceptable,” but it’s more than that, too, especially for writers. Continue reading
I have a problem with the Alpha hero and it just got a lot worse.
You may not have noticed this, but there are a lot of powerful creeps out there–Weinstein, Rose, Moore, Franken (break my heart, you bastard)–and a lot of people pointing out that “good-old-boy” does not mean “molests women and children” (and men, just ask Terry Crews). So of course now is when I wander into Alpha hero territory, and I’m trying to figure out how to do this because “Alpha hero” often means “Dickhead,” especially the ones from seventies who did a lot of “Whoops, sorry, I though you were a whore and that’s why I raped you” stuff. Sarah Wendell, quoted here, says of Alpha heroes, “Not only are they super powerful, controlling, authoritative — and also often shirtless — they take care of everything.” I can go with that definition, it’s the “let me force myself upon you because your body is something I deserve” that makes me want to kill them all. Yeah, if you touched her without a go-ahead, you’re a Dickhead.
And now I’ve written myself into a situation where I have to write
a Dickhead an Alpha hero. Continue reading
There’s something that’s been bothering me for years. (I can carry a worry longer than anybody. I am the Olympic gold medalist in worry and guilt carrying.) So I thought I’d throw the question out here and we could talk about it. I don’t need anybody to tell me I was right or wrong, it’s a judgment call. I’m just trying to get some clarity on the issue. Continue reading
I’ve been thinking about food a lot. About how we think about it, talk about it, choose it, prepare it, enjoy it or feel guilty about it, but mostly how it works in story. I’ve always said that setting is time, place, and people. Now I’m thinking it’s time, place, people, and food. Continue reading
Mammon and Max are fun characters for me because they’re amoral (not because they’re demons, but because they’re just made that way) and not particularly venal. Mammon hangs out with those who should be stepped on like bugs, but he really only needs slapped down every now and then, or at least have somebody pull him to one side and say, “If you do that, that would be stupid,” to be a fun if occasionally treacherous person to know.
Enter Max. Continue reading
Part of the discovery process for me is finding images that evoke character. They don’t have to look like the character although that’s always helpful, but the pictures I use as placeholders have to capture the attitude and personality of that character. When I thought about the Demon Island Historical Society, I thought of this Grant Wood painting:
The opening scene of any story should be (if I’m writing it, your mileage may differ) the transition from the stable world into the unstable. That doesn’t mean that everything is hunky dory at the beginning of the scene, there can be a lot of trouble, but it’s the usual trouble, nothing new, the protagonist’s world is still working the way he or she expects it to. And then Something Happens that turns the stable world into an unstable one. Continue reading
I’ve been thinking about socks lately because one of my fave online shopping places has new designs in, and I’ve been buying one design I love–“Fight Like A Girl”–for everybody. And at roughly the same time I’ve started sinking into who Nita is.
I know she wears all black because she’s so driven that she doesn’t have time for clothes, and because it absorbs heat, and because it fits her mood most of the time. Also, if everything’s black, it all matches. But I thought she’d have a secret lust for color, and that her big sister would know about it, and she’d buy her something that was wildly colorful that she could keep hidden. My first thought was underwear, but I’d done scenes with Liz and her t-shirts and underwear and it didn’t feel right.
And then I saw the “Fight Like a Girl” socks, and I remembered that when I’d gone in for the eye surgery, the nurse looked at my feet and said, “You win best socks of the week” (different socks, same store), and I thought, “That’s it. Socks.” And then I started searching for the Socks That Nita Would Wear.
They’re fabulous. Continue reading