Jessica Chastain & A Major Character In The #Novel I’m Developing & #Writing



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


Here I am again, doing the thing I hate so much — fucking preening about who might play a character in my “WIP.” And, yet, not only does no one read this blog but in the context of what I’m writing about it’s not THAT much annoying preening.

You see, I have no idea what I’m doing with this novel. I work almost entirely in a vacuum. I just have my gut to tell me what works and what doesn’t work. In fact, that’s probably been the biggest issue when it comes to development — I sometimes have to issues of equal value in my mind and I can’t figure out which is more important.

But one thing they tell you is in the second half of the novel, after the midpoint, you need one of two things: a death or the introduction of a new character. So, for me it’s a new character.

I really like the vibe Jessica Chastain puts out in her roles. So, I’ve modeled an important character that comes into the plot in the second half after her. Or, actually, she’s actually inspired by a woman I knew once who was Perfect. In fact, she was so perfect that she was completely unrelatable to anyone else. She was simply so close to The Ideal Woman that it was off putting to everyone else around her.

What’s worse, she was completely oblivious to this and was STILL unhappy with her life.

Anyway. She was beautiful, smart and funny. And very married.

I just decided to mix her up with Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty and ta-da! Character!

I haven’t gotten to her part of the story, yet. But I am looking forward to writing that character. She’s going to give my Hero hell.

The Stuff They Never Tell You About Developing & #Writing A #Novel



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


One of the reasons why having an endless supply of rage against the Trump Administration comes in handy is you need a lot — A LOT — of energy to develop and write a novel, at least the way I’m doing it.

I spend way too much time on simple maintenance of some pretty prosaic things. I print shit out all the times and sometimes a hole punch will malfunction on me and I have to start all over again.

I spend a lot of time staring at my printer seething with rage against the Trump Administration, believing that there’s at least a chance that my writing might make a difference in some small way.

Maybe it’s delusional, but one man’s delusion in another man’s dream, or vision.

There’s a reason why writers — and other creative types — are often pretty much just crackpots. I’m using what limited skills I have in a very focused way. So, maybe I have a shot at changing the world, maybe I don’t. I have been called both “delusional and stupid” recently. And the late Annie Shapiro called me a “delusional jerk with a good heart.”

As you can tell, me being delusional is a recurring theme with my critics.

Anyway. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not.

But I am very focused. I’m very focused on my dream of writing a novel good enough that someone, somewhere reads it and wants to know what happens next.

‘The Company’ & My Wild Days In Seoul



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


This is an instance of me either being extremely delusional (which is very possible) or sensing something that is true. Way back when, when I was living in Seoul, I was a man on fire. I was EXTREMELY CONSPICUOUS. So much so, that it’s probably reasonably likely that…uhhh…some spooks…in Seoul probably at least were aware of me.

I say this only because given where it is, it seems reasonable to assume that Seoul is crawling with spooks. Like a whole lot. And when I was there, there was a huge fucking military base in the middle of the city. And I was frequenting places like Haebangchon that probably had some military intelligence people living there. (At least in my fevered imagination about a decade later.)

Anyway, the only reason I bring his somewhat (ok, maybe a lot) bonkers idea up is I keep getting the occasional ping in my Webstats from people looking at this Website from Seoul. It makes no sense. None. I haven’t been in Seoul for about a decade now and, so, what? Why? I have been talking to the FBI for the novel and I even went so far as to mention “The Company” to the FBI PR guy.

I dunno. Just seems logical that some long-term spooky people in Seoul might have gotten wind of what I’m up to and thought they would take a look at my Website to see what was up.

I don’t think you can fully appreciate how insanely conspicuous I was in Seoul at my “height.” I was so balls out nuts someone even put me in a book about crazy expats.

All I can say is, I’m a changed man. I’ve learned humility.

#Write What You Know: This #Novel Is A Very Garbled Version Of My Personal History



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


For about a decade, I’ve struggled with how to tell the story of the ROKon Magazine era of my life in Seoul. Little did I know that I was going to pretty much throw that story up in the air, scramble it and then plop it in the United States about a decade after it happened.

And make it an allegorical thriller of the Trump Era!

But, here we are.

This novel is very personal to me for a number of reasons. I’ve finally figured out a way to convey how bonkers, unique and special the late Annie Shapiro was. Or, at least, the very romanticized version of her I remember all these years later.

I really want to convey Annie Shapiro in the novel and, as such, I lean into what I remember of her when constructing my heroine. (And the heroine’s mother.) It fits very well into my overall vision for the novel.

The thing about writing your first novel, at least for me, is when you actually get into it, you find yourself throwing everything you have at it. But you have to be careful about that. Or, if you’re going to do it, you have to make it seamless. It has to make sense. It can’t just be a jumble of grievances, pet peeves and fond memories throw together without any connection.

You have to have a canon, a plot and characters who inhabit this mixture of goals in a meaningful manner. I have worked so, so very hard to create a universe that I believe in so absolutely that you, the reader, will also believe it’s possible.

We’ll see, I guess.

Zendaya & My Continuing Struggle With My Heroine’s Relationship With Her Appearance



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


The future is brown. At least in the United States. So, from the very beginning of the process of developing this novel, I knew my heroine was going to be brown. After about two years of development, all I can say is: my heroine looks like Zendaya.

It’s eerie how what I imagine my heroine looking like matches Zendaya. I originally thought she was too short, but when I looked up her height, I realized she was exactly right.

Again, no one reads this blog, so I’m just talking to myself.

Anyway, another thing I struggle with is how to make my heroine physically attractive without people simply dismissing the entire story as an extended sex fantasy on my part. That’s a real issue at this point. All I can say is this is NOT a sex fantasy. It’s just I thought it would be more interesting if my heroine was demonstrably attractive and part of the story was her conflicted relationship to her beauty.

But I also struggle to do everything in my power to flip the script on the “sexy slutty assassin” trope. I really try to flesh the character — and her motivations — out. I just feel it’s dumb to not give the audience what it wants. Why NOT have a hot heroine? As long as I not only flip the script but also flesh the character out as much as possible, well, lulz?

All I can say is I definitely now see it as something of a challenge to prove my heroine isn’t constructed so I can have sex with her in my imagination. I see her as more of a willful child at this point, regardless. While she is hot, she’s also flawed and damaged.

She’s definitely not a Lisbeth Salander clone, however. My heroine is very more accessible and, like, uh…fun? But she’s got issues and those issues cause a lot of problems for everyone around her, which, of course, makes for a great plot.

But I dunno. I’ve obsessed over this particular issue for two years. I’m going to go to great pains to make it clear my heroine is not a sexxy slutty assassin. Though, I mean, come on, people. Get over yourself. People read novels to escape. Your job as a writer is to take their hand and give them interesting characters who do interesting things. If you get so wrapped up in your fucking agenda that the story grinds to a halt, then, well, you have Booksmart.

I want this to be a fun read. Something you pick up and end up reading in about three days. That was what I loved about Stieg Larsson’s stuff and if I can do the same with my novel(s), then it will be a dream come true.

Flipping The Script On #MAGA’s Paranoid Delusional Canon Of Bonkers Conspiracy Theories In The #Novel I’m Developing & #Writing



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


Say what you will about MAGA shitheads, they definitely are creative in their sheer insane, bonkers views on the world. So, in the novel I’m developing I actively flip the script on some of their favorite talking points.

It’s worked out quite well, if I do say so myself.

I like the idea of taking their insane fucktard conspiracies seriously and then turning them against them. So one of their favorite talking points — the existence of a Deep State — is a central plot point in this novel. In fact, it’s such a rich vein of surreal insanity that the more I think about it, the more I realize how great it is. It’s really a matter of simply figure out how to flesh it all out so it makes as much sense as possible.

I mean, it makes a lot of sense to me in my head, but putting it down on paper is a different matter altogether.

It’s just so funny to me. In fact, if I work hard enough, it’s possible I might hook some MAGA cocksuckers into reading the novel for no other reason than it strokes their fucking whacked out conspiracy theory needs. I must say in passing that I think the late Stieg Larsson was in to conspiracy theories, so given how influenced my work is by his stuff, it would be an appropriate homage to his novels to do this, even if it is mean to be DL ironic in nature.

As I said, the more I think about it, the more it works. If I could get MAGA people to read the novel for no other reason than I take seriously their paranoid fucking insane ideas, then, well, that would be pretty cool. The whole thing is done on the sly, though. I take is seriously, but with an eye cocked at the audience like, “Can you believe this shit?”

Anyway. It all makes sense in the context of the story. It has taken me two years to get to this point and it’s such a relief to finally reach land. I’ve finally figured out the infrastructure so I can lay out my vision for the canon of this novel. Now comes the hard part of seeing if my writing is up to the task.

The #COVID19 #Pandemic & The #Novel I’m Developing & #Writing #AmWriting



By Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


Oh, this pandemic. What to do. What to do. The novel I’m developing and writing is set just before the pandemic starts and the second book in the story ends just as the pandemic is about to strike the States in a big way.

There’s so much going on with this novel already, I find myself struggling to figure out how to thread the needle on the issue of dealing with the pandemic. In fact, one of the “benefits” of the pandemic from an artistic standpoint is it gives you a very definite delineation between “now” and “the before times.”

I often ask my sister who consumes a lot of pop art if she would want such art to acknowledge the presence of the pandemic going forward or not and she seems rather blase about it all. Or, put another way, I can’t gauge from her answer if I should put more or less reference to the pandemic in the novel I’m working on.

Given what’s going on with the novel, I think I almost have to address it as soon as possible. I have a very easy in for this discussion and, as such, I’m probably going to use it as an opportunity to talk about what people thought of the idea of a pandemic leading up to its arrival in the United States.

Originally, this novel was meant to be a rumination on the Trump Era about the time of the lead up to The Mueller Report, but development took too long, so I pushed the story forward a year. I don’t feel comfortable pushing the story forward ANOTHER year should development raise the issue of when its set again.

I have a clear time frame because of the pandemic — right before it struck and changed everything. It seems like an ideal time to establish the events of the two books will be taking place in.

But, again, I have no idea if audiences will want that or not. And, yet, this novel is meant to be very timely, so I don’t see how I can’t address the pandemic. And it makes a lot more sense to figure out how to make the novel both timely and timeless in the way it addresses current events.

Slay The Patriarchy! Of #MeToo, Olivia Wilde, Booksmart, Jessica Chastain & The #Novel I’m Developing & Writing



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


You know, I try. I try to be as empathetic as possible to a wide range of people. But, alas, I *AM* a middle-aged white male. As such, I know that even though I’m going way, way, WAY out of my way to use the #MeToo movement as a major element in the novel I’m developing and writing, it’s probably a lost cause.

While I’m a big fan of both Olivia Wilde and Jessica Chastain and am trying to develop female characters they won’t hate, I know that in reality, all their complaining about how bad male writers are when constructing female characters isn’t completely in good faith. What they’re really saying is THEY want to write female characters. Men can suck it.

For instant — Ms. Wilde’s movie Booksmart. I was shamed into seeing it by Twitter liberals and absolutely fucking hated it with a white hot rage — and still do. I freely admit I was definitely NOT the audience and, as such, there are plenty of people (mostly bicurious teen girls in southern California) who probably see it as their generation’s fucking Citizen Kane. The reason why it evoked such hatred from me is Ms. Wilde seemed so determined to browbeat me, personally, as a member of the patriarchy that she was willing to alienate me out of the theatre. (Which she did.)

Some of my anger comes from how deep I continue to be in developing my novel. I really want to prove a point to both Ms. Wilde and Ms. Chastain that with a lot of work a man, can, in fact, not only write a novel with the strong female characters they demand, but also tell a great story that, like, entertains people without being preachy?

I have thought up a very interesting plot point in my novel that deals with the #MeToo movement in a very empathetic and compelling fashion. I guess I’m just a little annoyed that Twitter liberals will — should the occasion arise — not even give me a chance to prove that point because I’m a man. (And before you tell me to get my head out of my ass, let me say I AM a delusional jerk with a good heart. I have very strong opinions and some of them don’t fit the media narrative. Deal with it.)

But I really like what I’ve come up with. It’s going to require stepping outside my comfort zone by reading a number of books, but, in the end, I’m going to be very proud with the end product.

Too bad my gender won’t let anyone else agree.

My Novel Is A Screenplay In Hiding & How Phoebe Waller-Bridge Inspires Me



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


I’m a very visual person. And I love movies. I love how a good movie — or film for that matter — can become a totem for the era in which it was produced. Movies, with their combination of music, writing, cinematography and acting are artistic time capsules waiting to be discovered by new generations.

As such, the novel I’m developing and writing is pretty much a screenplay hiding inside a novel. I can’t help myself. I reference a lot of music. In fact, music is pretty crucial to understanding the whole thing. And the story (two novels, one story) is jammed packed with scenes that I look forward to writing and I know, given the opportunity, that audiences would crave to see on the big screen.

But the point of this post is the actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge. While, again, my expectations for this novel are painfully low, I do continue to see Ms. Waller-Bridge when I imagine my female romantic lead. She’s the right age and British. The female romantic lead is an amalgam of a number of women who have caught my eye over the years. The biggest inspiration is, of course Alexa Chung, who is, oddly enough, just about Ms. Waller-Bridge’s age.

It’s interesting how much of a struggle I’ve gone through to make my original vision of this novel a reality. My writing ability was sorely lacking when I started this process. But, finally, I feel I’ve pretty much figured out how my doofus hero might be able to snag a woman who is, at least in part, inspired by Ms. Chung.

As I’ve said before, I find it extremely amusing that my female romantic lead has an Asian surname, but — plot twist! — doesn’t look Asian. It’s all very amusing because I could see a lot of Twitter liberals who hadn’t read the book getting extremely angry that a Caucasian would play the character, not knowing that, lulz, she doesn’t even look Asian as described.

But, in general, I’m a big fan of Ms. Waller-Bridge. That girl has creative brass ovaries. She inspires me a great deal because she looks at the audience without blinking and challenges them. My novel, too, pretty much wallows in some very controversial subjects and demands the audience dare to look away.

Or, put another way, that’s what’s going on in my mind as I develop and write the novel. The whole thing is so diffused that, lulz, you probably wouldn’t even notice what the fuck I just said in the actual product. The novel I’m writing is a very breezy, accessible read.

Anyway. Who am I fooling. I can’t even get anyone to read this blog, much less read a novel in the 145,000 to 165,00 word count range. But, like I said, this a novel that has some serious screenplay envy.

Some of the scenes would knock your socks off on the screen!

Of Chris Pratt, Daniel Craig, Matthew McConaughey & #Writing A ‘Breakout Novel’ #AmWriting



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


As I keep saying, I really, really hate how much cloyingly annoying preening I see on Twitter within its “writing community.” I have no beef with any of them. God speed, guys. Hope your “WIP” is a success. But one thing I fucking hate is seeing people go on about how their MC of their WIP is supposed to be this or that person.

Fuck that.

But no one reads this blog and I’m in the mood to write, so I thought I’d do the very thing I hate so much. Chris Pratt is who I think of when I write about my novel’s Hero. He’s got the ability to be both serious and comical. My hero is meant to be someone who likes to have a good time — and drink — but when push comes to shove, he grows serious and is willing to suffer for what he believes in.

In fact, the idea of the importance of having principles in an era when seemingly NO ONE has any is crucial to the story as I see it. I’m impressed with Pratt’s range and he’s the right age for the character. Setting the Hero’s age has been a real pain in the ass for a number of reasons. I’ve settled — for the time being — on 40, which is just about Pratt’s age. Any older, and some of the relationships I see for the character become, well, a little creepy.

Though, I will note, if I’m going to mentally masturbate about this subject anyway, that I could see Daniel Craig being interested in this character. Or, put another way, if he was interested in playing the Hero in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, he would be interested in playing this character, should the occasion arise.

Since my Hero is from the South, I could also see Matthew McConaughey being interested in the character. But, again, like Craig, he’s 10 years too old. But this is Hollywood we’re talking about, they don’t care about shit like that.

And, yet, Pratt lingers in my mind as the perfect person to convey my motivation for my Hero. My Hero is a guy that everyone underestimates because ostensibly he’s a womanizing drunk, when, in fact, he has a deepseated core of beliefs that he’s willing to fight — and suffer — for.

Now, let me be clear — the more serious I become about this novel, the less I care about any potential Hollywood adaptation. This happens in large part because as I grow more serious, the more I realize how unlikely it is that I’ll be able to even sell this novel, much less it become so successful that Hollywood would be interested.

About 99% of a novel’s “break out” nature is sheer luck. You spend years working on a novel and the context of the finished product is such that it hits the zeitgeist at just the right angle and blammo — it’s a huge hit. So, really, at this point, I have no idea if a lot of people are going to be interested in reading a thriller that’s really just a very diffused polemic on the Trump Era and extremism in general.

Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.

And there’s a lot of other things to think about. Someone could steal a mach on me. Or people will be tired of hearing about Trump. Or whatever. There are half a dozen reasons why everything might work with the novel but for things out of my control.

This novel is not “A Confederacy of Dunces.” If I can’t sell it pretty quick, then, lulz. I’ll just self-publish it. I have a pretty tight schedule in my mind, but a lot of things could still go wrong.

Wish me luck.