V-Log: A Bit Of Idle Rambling About The #Novel I’m Developing

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I’m working on a new, non-scifi novel that draws upon my personal experiences in rural Virginia — and other places. We’ll see how it goes.

AOC, Amber Rose & The Struggle To Flesh Out Minority Characters In Storytelling

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I really like both Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Amber Rose. The two women could not be more different, but I want representation in the novel I’m writing and as such I think I’m going to at least _try_ to base two POV characters on these two women.

One of the characters I want to base on a woman who isn’t black, but half-Singaporean, but I fear that’s just not going to work. The trouble getting the audience to understand why she would be that given the situation involved is too much. So, I think I’m just going to make the character black and be done with it. And, given that, in a sense, she’s the “MacGuffin” of the story and someone the villain is directly, well, villainous to, I think that would resonate with audiences in an visceral way. Her character is very much in flux right this second and I have to find a balance between her being someone you like and someone who is sufficiently passive that the villain could hurt her and make us have the catharsis of revenge against him.

Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is likely going to be the basis of a much stronger character, one who helps move the plot along by her dislike and opposition to the Hero. I’m not saying I’m the greatest writer in the world, but I definitely need someone to inspire the character of a strong, young Latina who doesn’t take shit from anyone. The issue is fleshing her out in such a way that she’s both believable and yet butts heads with the Hero enough that there’s conflictin an empathetic fashion.

I guess the whole point of this is I have a lot of work to do.

Character, Plot, Screenplays, Novels & Representation In Storytelling

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I’m watching a lot of YouTube videos about writing a screenplay. While I’m writing a novel, the concepts of good storytelling are essentially the same with a novel and a screenplay, even though the two forms of storytelling have dramatically different internal logic.

Anyway, I’m quite pleased with how things are going right this second. Things seem to be falling into place and it’s really just a matter of doing the hard work of putting things together. I’m really leaning into my own personal experiences for the most part. There are a few rough edges in the plot — there are some scenes I know I want to write, but I can’t figure out quite yet how they happen in the context of the story — but other than that simply by working from my own personal experiences things are moving quickly.

This go round, I’m establishing my characters first and then fusing that with the general idea of the plot so things hopefully will be a lot better this go time. A lot is going on with this novel, but not so much that it becomes too confusing. I have 200,000 words to play with and as such I have room to explore. One thing I have to study is how to make the focus and crux of the story the relationship between the Hero and the FRL (Female Romantic Lead.) I keep coming back to Lisbeth Salander as well as Joel and Clementine in The Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. I have to figure out a way for us to care about the relationship between the two main characters without us hating them for being so flawed and generally unlikable. (That has been a problem with me with past novel attempts.)

I think I have it figured out, but I’m not sure. I really need to give more “screentime” to the two main characters so I don’t lose focus on what, really, is going on. As I’ve written before, the heart of the story is my relationship ten years ago with the late Annie Shapiro. That, at its core, is the story I want to tell. I just have to structure the story in such a way that that is the case.

The characters are growing stronger by the moment and I’m still reluctant to make the story a thriller, even though it’s going to probably lean into that genre for no other reason than it helps heighten the action and drama. But I have a lot of work ahead of me. But it’s still fun.

One thing I am struggling with his representation. I want there to be at least one Hispanic and one African American POV character and…that hasn’t happened yet. It’s simply a face of modern American storytelling that you need to represent your audience better. With the browning of America, you need black and brown characters among your those in your story for no other reason than, well, people are kind of expecting these days.

So, I think I’m probably going to have to do some fancy footwork and change a few characters in ways I didn’t really think about at first. This is an example of how there’s a little bit of pressure on me between the art and the market. But I think that says more about me maturing as a would-be novelist than anything else.

But we’ll see. The key point is to finish the first part of development and begin writing the scene summary so I can actually start to write the novel.

ROKon Magazine & The High Concept Of The #Novel I’m Developing

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

So, they say write what you know, so I’m doing that. But there’s a general high concept involved in this new novel I’m attempting to develop. As I see it, the story is, at its heart, my attempt to tell what happened between me and Annie Shapiro in Seoul about ten years ago. The rest is simply structural things done for expediency’s sake.

I really like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, so I’m basing my “girl with” on what I remember of the late Annie Shapiro. She was a piece of work, let me tell you. She’s ripe to be the basis of a really interesting character that people will want to read about. I just have to figure out how, exactly, the character will be fleshed out in the context of the story. One big issue is…uh…making the characters likeable? I run a real risk if I make the characters too…real…that people will hate them. So, there’s going to be a lot of dramatic licence in this one, let me tell you.

Meanwhile, I really like the idea that a group of people from unexpected places would find themselves in a rural community running a small town newspaper and something REALLY BIG falls into their lap. So, in a sense, I’m — in a very fuzzy way — recreating the conditions of Seoul, 2006-8 and the ROKon Magazine staff I remember. Instead of expats, it’s fish-out-of-water people dealing with the strange customs of a very small community.

As it stands, I see the high concept as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo meets The Bonfire Of The Vanities meets…To Kill A Mocking Bird? Maybe? In a sense? I can’t think off the top of my head of a story based in a small Southern town. Maybe one of the Grisham novels, maybe?

Anyway, regardless, this is a character driven story. The interesting characters are what are going to drive the story forward. I’m just in the developmental stages at this point. I want to get the concept and characters down pat before I start to do a scene summary. Developing and writing a novel is really hard and there’s absolutely zero assurance that it will be a success of any sort.

But I have to keep going. I can’t just stare out into space for the rest of my life.

#Writing A Character Driven #Novel

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

While I am still very interested in the scifi novel concept and hope to return to it eventually, I reached a point with it when I realized it was maybe a little too epic for my current experience and writing ability. So, I’m putting it on the backburner for a little bit.

I’ve decided to start from characters and then work my way out. I have a general plot in my mind — the consequences of a small town newspaper staff having a national news story fall in their lap — now it’s a matter of building characters and slamming them against each other.

That’s what makes this novel attempt different than the scifi effort. I started with the conceit first in that effort, then started working on characters. With this one, I’m going to build the characters first and see what happens. As it stands, the “high concept” of the novel is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo meets The Bonfire Of The Vanities meets, I don’t know, something set in a small town. I’m drawing upon what I know first hand for this one. I hope to make it really personal and as such feel genuine to the reader.

The concept is gradually growing into something interesting. I’m watching “how to tell a story” videos on YouTube and I bought a book on character traits to help me build the characters. I really, really like Lisbeth Salander and drawing upon what I remember of the late Annie Shapiro, I think I can probably build a really interesting female character that people might — just might — fall in love with.

Maybe.

I guess the really frustrating thing right now is it just takes time. Even though my efforts to develop a scifi novel have helped me speed up this process a great deal, I still have to think and think and think about how, exactly, things are going to work out. This novel is definitely for me as much as the audience and as such I think it will be a lot better than it might be otherwise.

But it’s just going to take time. It’s just going to take me time to figure out exactly what this story is about. I know the general gist of the story, but it’s going to take time to get the details straight.

Write What You Know, Part Duh

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I have a pretty good conceit for a novel, I am simply struggling with fleshing it out. I just have to trust myself. What makes this concept great is it lends itself to be all character. That’s one of the reasons why I like it. I learned a lot working on the scifi novel I’ve been writing about for the last two months or so.

One think I learned is the significance of character. Character is really what drives a plot and as such that’s what you have to think about the most as you write out the general synopsis. I am using a wide-array of things that I personally know something about, throwing them into a pot then throwing in some characters that I’ve long wanted to write about.

Anyway, I’m really struggling with the latter part of the plot at this point. What happens after the mid-point twist, specifically. I’m trying to figure out what, exactly, happens to increase the drama of the story. It’s looking like this may turn into a thriller simply for no other reason than it helps structure the plot. My fear is, as I may have said before, that this will turn into a mish-mash of The Girl With Dragon Tattoo and The Bonfire Of The Vanities.

But we’ll see. I hope to wrap up the plot synopsis today and start to actually write the scene summary by the end of business today as well. I just have to trust my creativity. I have to allow myself to think as creatively as possible and lean into character develop as well.

I have a whole host of issues when it comes to developing the characters that I know I want. I know I want the female romantic lead to be really interesting — Lizbeth Salander interesting — and the only thing I have to lean on is the personality of the late Annie Shapiro, who I ran a magazine with in Seoul about a decade ago. So one of today’s tasks is to figure out how and why someone of her background would endup where I need her to be for the sake of the story. I hope to think that out during the course of the day.

But, in a sense, now that I have a lot better grasp of the task ahead of me, it’s kind of exciting. I have a much better understanding of what is needed. Again, however, I’m a little reluctant to turn the story into a straight thriller. That’s not my vision at this point. I guess that could change out of desperation, if nothing else.

V-Log: By 2020, Facebook May Be A Portal & Own AT&T

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I have a feeling things are going to change dramatically when it comes to online content.

V-Log: Mulling A New Novel I’m Developing

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I like the idea of writing a novel strictly based on “what I know.” As such, I’m developing a novel based on several different things that I’ve experience first hand, only greatly exaggerated and dramatized. Anyway, I’m not going to live forever, so I need to get some work done. I need flesh out the synopsis as soon as possible. I’m using the experience I garnered from the last two months of hard work developing a scifi novel to hopefully speed up the process with this novel concept.

We’ll see, I guess.

You, Like, Have To Have Conflict, You Know

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I hate conflict. So, it goes without saying that such proclivities cause problems when thinking up a plot. But I have a general concept — that two small town reporters stumble across a national news story — and that’s the basis of plot I’m mulling right now. I’m using what I’ve learned over the last two months of hard work developing a scifi novel to hopefully speed the process of development of this story up significantly.

I have the general concept of structuring a novel down pat, now I have to flesh the concept out by ramping up stakes and creating engaging characters that people will want to hang out with for 200,000 words. My fear is that if I’m not careful, the concept will become a muddled mish-mash of The Girl With Dragon Tattoo and The Bonfire of The Vanities.

But, I don’t know. I going to try to work on the new concept all day today for no other reason than I need to work on something, anything, rather than stare at Twitter all day.

Some Personal Thoughts On Novels & Screenwriting

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I really love movies and I can come up with movie concepts really, really easy. I’m of the opinion that if you have a pulse, you can come up with a movie concept. The issue is simply hard work. The internal logic of a movie is such that you can get away with some pretty astonishing things that you could never get away with in a novel for no other reason than you have to, like, uh, explain shit in a novel in a way you simply aren’t required to in a screenplay.

Alas, while I can come up with movie concepts really easily, I don’t have the money to buy Final Draft, so I’m stuck writing novels. Or at least trying to write novels. I have a few solid novel concepts floating around in my mind and it’s just a matter of doing the hard work of developing them to actually get anything done.

I really love the culture of screenwriting from what I can tell about it from the outside and I have the skillset needed to be successful — at least in my own fevered imagination. I love to write, tell stories and socialize. That’s pretty much what you need to have, at least in my opinion, to be a successful screenwriter.

Anyway, I’m getting better at the structure of stories. If I could find someone to be a writing partner with, I would probably be more interested in screenwriting. But no matter what, I have to put in the hard work. That’s the thing about it all — nothing happens without a lot of work.