I Have An Idea

by Shelton Bumgarner

While I’m deep into working on a novel, I have an idea, a notion, a conceit for a screenplay that’s interesting.

I have the general universe — and twist ending — down pat. What I don’t have is much of a plot. But I do have another plot lying around and I may use it to flesh out the plot of this idea.

But it really doesn’t matter right now. I have a novel to work on.

Well, At Least I Know This Novel’s Universe Really Well

by Shelton Bumgarner

The more I think about it, the more I really like the Hobbes & Shaw screenplay. I say this because it did was a screenplay is supposed to do — be invisible. Only the greats can write a screenplay that is conspicuous enough that the average person notices it. A screenplay, in my opinion, is simply the framework for the producer, director and actors to tell the story.

The more I write this novel, the more seriously I take structure, character and plot. Your job as a storyteller is to get out of the way. You lay out a universe with interesting characters and then smash them against each other in a way where you have increasing tension. If shit blows up and people have sex, all the better.

But the main point is that the audience cares about the characters. I cared about what was going on with the characters in Hobbes & Shaw, even though it was meant to be mindless summer fun. I thought there were some pretty big plot holes, but the overall effect was interesting and entertaining.

As I said, I liked the screenplay because I did not find myself thinking about it. Things moved along at a brisk pace. You meant interesting people with believable rationales. I did not want to walk out once, which is saying something for me.

Compare this to Booksmart. I walked out with the inciting incident occurred. Way too much screeching over things I did not want to sit through two hours worth of hero’s journey. I understand you’re supposed to give the Hero room to grow, but when all the screeching happened, I bounced. I had better things to do with my time.

But, again, I was not the audience. The audience seemed to be bi curious girls seniors in high school. Or something. Something I’m not. The thing about Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood was I really, really cared about the characters even though for much of the film they didn’t do all that much. That’s a testament to good writing, if ever there was one.

Anyway. I need to read more. And watch more movies. I need to hurry up and finish the first draft, if nothing else.

Struggling With The Romantic Aspect of The Novel

by Shelton Bumgarner

I am cruising towards having my Hero and Heroine hook up. I have a really cool way for this to happen. And, yet, I worry no one will believe it’s possible. I say this knowing that the scene I’m going to write is very possible because it happened to ME.

I have debated at length with myself as to when to have my two leads hook up. If I don’t do it right, women will be turned off. Since I want this at least _try_ to be a tentpole, I have to be careful of just that. I have already worked the plot some to tone down the male sex fantasy aspect of the introduction of the female lead.

But given that this is just a first draft, I’m going to just write it. If I don’t like it long-term, I’ll change it when I come around to the second draft. The key issue is to just keep writing.

As I have said before, you can’t edit a blank page.

Storytelling During Trump Time

by Shelton Bumgarner

As I’ve said repeatedly, the thing about trying to write the type of novel I’m writing is how up-in-the-air everything is. I have no idea what the mood of the nation will be whenever I try to sell it much less whenever it might be actually in bookshelves.

The story is meant to be timeless and yet timely, just like the movie Network. I want people to nod their head as they explore this fantastical world I’ve thought up. I want them to, in the back of their head, see the allegorical nature of the plot and universe.

Of course, there is a good chance this will piss MAGA people off. So much so, I continue to stress out about someone like Don Jr. telling his followers to hate read it. (Though that would be cool for the bottomline.)

But, really, I have to do the hard work. I have to flesh out the plot I have. I have to create a universe people will want to spend a few days in. It’s a lot of work. A whole lot of work.

And this novel is very autobiographical in a macro sense. I am using a lot of my personal life and personal history to tell this story. The better you know me personally, the more this will be obvious to you. I’m using a lot of my experiences in Seoul to tell this story. That is making telling this story a lot easier, believe you me.

I just have to keep writing. I just have to keep believing. I can’t get weighed down with insecurities. I do need to read more and watch more movies. I will admit that. I find myself studying popular movies to figure out what makes them a good tale and how I can improve my story from what I learn.

As I have mentioned, I found Hobbes & Shaw touched all the right bases of storytelling. And it doesn’t too much thought to see that through the use of subject, a lot of issues of the day were addressed. It was because of the complete lack of subtext that I absolutely hated Booksmart. That movie enraged me because I felt it was so eager to suck its own ideological dick that it miss the point of the whole endeavor: tell a great story.

Had Olivia Wilde leaned more into it being a homage of, say, Heathers, then I think it would have been a more popular film. And, yet, as I keep saying, I was obviously NOT the audience of that movie so I don’t really have much room to talk. But I felt it failed a story because of how ideological it was.

That’s a real risk for telling stories under Trump. Trump has made the political divide in America so taunt that it’s difficult to both tell a tentpole story AND use subtext to tell the audience what’s on your mind.

‘Hobbes & Shaw,’ ‘Network’ & The Novel I’m Writing

by Shelton Bumgarner

I saw Hobbes & Shaw today and I really liked it. It dealt with a lot of modern issues using subtext. I felt it had a deeper meaning if you gave it some thought, which is why I enjoyed it so much.

My novel is meant to be sort of “The Millennium Series” meets “Network.”

That, in a sense, is the high concept notion of it. I say that because this is a novel that really is meant to be a snapshot — in an allegorical sense — of American under Trump. The plot is just an excuse to explore the allegorical world. Hopefully, of course, I won’t come off as too preachy. That would really suck and hurt the chances of the novel being any form of a success.

I’m trying to write as fast as I can. I hope to finally, finally wrap up the first draft’s first act for real by the end of the month. I’m so desperate to move out of the first act, that if I can’t do it through rewriting, I’m going to do it be reusing much of what I’ve already written.

Once I get out of the first act and can successfully stay out of it, I think things should move a lot faster. I know the ins and outs of the novel’s plot like the back of my hand on a macro level. It’s the tactical stuff that is slowing me down at this point.

But, again, the point is to just keep going. I can’t choke or get discouraged by assuming someone is going to “steal” the idea or make it moot in some way. While both of those things are very possible, I have to keep writing until it’s actually proven to have happened.

Not before.

Sometimes, You Just Have To Believe

by Shelton Bumgarner

I find myself constantly assuming someone is going to steal a creative march on me. So much so, I feel myself just not wanting to continue with the novel. I’m that sure. I’m that absolutely sure that someone, somewhere will somehow “steal” my novel’s concept or otherwise make it moot.

And, yet, I keep going for a number of reasons. One is I’ve already invested a huge amount of time and energy into it. So why assume the worst until it actually happens? If something happens to negate my hard work, then we’ll roll with it.

But wait until it actually happens.

So, meanwhile, I’m going to keep going. I have a huge amount of work to do still. But I feel as though I’ve at least gotten out of the main part of development. I’m getting into actually writing the novel — or at least the first serious draft.

This is happening in large part to finally figuring out the basic structure of the plot and universe. The novel deals with “big ideals” in an entertaining fashion. I honestly can’t think of anything else I would rather be working on at this point.

Really, it’s a matter of not getting distracted by what “might” or “may” happen. The point is to keep writing, keep believing. Keep believing in myself that I can produce a quality product that will have mass appeal.

None of that can happen in the first place if I don’t believing myself enough to keep going.

Writing A Timeless Tale & Avoiding The Story Being Dismissed As A Liberal Screed

by Shelton Bumgarner

The thing I realized today is there’s no way to avoid my own personal rage at MAGA from coming out. My hatred of MAGA is so central to the conceit of the tale that I’m just going to have to accept that I can’t do what I really wanted to do, which was write a great tale that was on its surface just that.

As such, if there’s any chance this actually gets published and is a success, there’s a real chance that there will be a lot of hate-readers. The presence of Trump is felt in the very DNA of the story. I want this to come across as a political fairytale for woke Park Slope moms. A guilty pleasure, if you will.

While I may be able to get close to that, I can’t help that it’s pretty obvious who this story is directed towards. My only hope is that the characters are interesting enough that at least some of the center-Right might be willing to put aside my subtle ranting against MAGA long enough to enjoy the story.

The tale is supposed to be an indictment of extremism in general. That’s the goal. But I have to admit to myself that if this story actually gets any traction that a lot of conservatives will be so angry at how much rage I’m directed at MAGA (if in a fuzzy way) that they will bitch and moan about the story in general.

But I don’t know. I just don’t know. This is not meant to be high art. This is pop art. It’s meant to be a snapshot of the Trump Era via allegory. But the main point at this time is to simply finish the first draft.

One thing that’s really important to me is to try to make this sufficiently timeless — much like the movie Network — that it stands on its own terms and is not dated too quickly. We’ll see, I guess. I just have to believe in myself and keep writing.

You can’t edit a blank page.

A New Era For The Novel

By Shelton Bumgarner

I have sent the first part of the novel — 20 scenes — to a few people and now I’m waiting for some sense from them if the conceit is as good as I believe it to be.

Last night was kind of rough. I have thrown my whole life into this novel and people simply were not giving me the turn-around on what I sent them in the way I expected.

But in a sense, I guess it is better I realize that dynamic now. If I waited until the second draft was finished it would be a real let down if people acted this way then.

Today is going to be development day for the novel. I’m going to sketch out the second part of the novel — which the story really begins — and then probably start writing again no later this tomorrow, this Sunday. I believe this novel is really strong. Really strong. But the tough part is getting someone, anyone to be willing to take a look at it in the first place.

Anyway, I just have to keep believing in myself. I have to keep going. No one will help you while you’re struggling. It’s only after you’re a success that anyone gives a shit.

‘Send Her Back’ — #Lyrics To A Country-Pop Song

Been struggling with how to use this phrase in a song. Finally figured it out. Not at all what I expected.

Send Her Back
lyrics by Shelton Bumgarner
Please give credit if you produce or perform

looking at myself in the mirror
thinking what’s been done
is done
what happens next is anyone’s guess
but let me put it out there

if you find her
send her back
send her back
if you find my love
send her back

she was my center
when she left it was with a roar
I adored her with my all my might
now the pain enters my heart at night
gives me a fright without any delight

all I can do is think of the past
without a doubt it’s a rout
it’s over there’s no doubt
but maybe with your help she’ll come back

if you find her
send her back
send her back
if you find my love

she’s coming back I just know
letting me leave the pain
it’s all I got
it’s my last refrain

if you find her
send her back
send her back
if you find my love

send her back

It’s All Been Done

by Shelton Bumgarner

I continue to think about the movie Network as I write this novel. It’s Network more than anything else that inspires me. I really like how that movie is so timeless and yet is a snapshot of America just after Watergate.

The novel I’m writing has the potential to be something of a Network for the Trump Era. That’s the absolutely best best case scenario. But I really have leaned into every possible zeitgeisty thing I can possibly think of while I develop this work.

But I do have pretty low expectations. I’ll be pleased if I simply finish something, anything that I can show people who think I suck. One interesting thing is I got as far as the second act a few weeks ago and the entire story fell apart on a tactical level. Strategically, it still works.

It really boils down to simply believing in myself. The thing is I really feel like I’m adrift in the middle of the Atlantic. I believe in my gut that if I just keep going I’ll reach the New World. But I have nothing my own ambition to guide me at this point.

I just feel like the Trump Era needs an easily accessible tale that explains to people who are as frustrated as I am. I still don’t have a canon for the work. And I still haven’t done character studies. Even when I do finally do those two things, I’m probably going to do it in longhand. What I need is a typewriter.

Anyway. I’ve finally managed to right myself after a few days of struggle. I’m feeling pretty good about what I’ve managed to come up with. Now, it’s just a matter of putting in the hard work.