On The Issue Of ‘Fridging’ In Modern Storytelling

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I try to be empathetic to the liberal-progressive agenda. I really, really, do. But when “woke” people come after some pretty basic elements of storytelling I get really, really mad. I have been aware of the “fridging” trope for some time, but I was unaware that essentially now ANY use of anything related to it is “canceled” in woke culture.

Or maybe only women can use it now? Is that it? No matter how great the story is, if women are put in danger for any reason for the sake of a plot it’s “fridging” and looked down upon? Fuck that. What makes it all the worse is how broad and convoluted the arguments against using the threat of violence against women as a storytelling technique are. I mean, really, people. Has anyone looked out the window? The real world is a harsh, brutal place. There are elements of my story should mitigate the “fridging” accusation for a least some of the woke media observers on Twitter who would harp and bitch about the story in the extremely unlikely event this story is actually a success in any way.

The only thing I can do is be extremely aware of that criticism going forward. That’s all I got. I’m not changing my story to fit anyone’s “woke” political agenda. This story is meant to be a great story that *I* enjoy. I just don’t want to embarrass myself.

There comes a point when you just have to accept that you can’t please everyone — especially woke media observers — and simply embrace the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. I guess Star Trek, that is a utopia and barely has any conflict, is the only thing we should be shown from now on or something.

Struggling With Character Ages

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I think I have my ages figured out. But it took me a lot longer than I thought it would. The issue is the older my Hero is, the more gravitas he is accrued. But at the same time, if I have a fixed age for my Heroine, then the older he gets, the creepier any romantic connection between the two of them will be.

So, I have split the difference in a sense. He’s just old enough to benefit from being just about middle-aged, but young enough that the average person wouldn’t wince that he’s 20 years older than the Heroine. I keep thinking about basing my Hero on Daniel Craig, but he’s just too old. I can’t help that men at 50 are white hot career-wise when it comes to leading man roles. That says more about how men are given more power as their careers mature in Hollywood than anything else. It really warps storytelling.

But anyway, I have come up with men who are about the age of my Hero to use as a reference point. The real struggle at this point is my natural inclination to make my Hero a “proxy me” and as such far more of a doofus than maybe the audience would like. I need this to be a dark story with a strong Hero, not some Protestant Alvie Singer character who just is nervous and gets beat up. So, that’s a real issue right now. How to make my Hero, well, a Hero.

But, in general, the story is moving a long quite well. The real task at this point is making the second act — which covers a much longer span of time — interesting enough for the readers to spend the time necessary to finish the story.

‘Knives Out’ & Its Influence On The Novel I’m Developing & Writing

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I walk out of movies a lot now that I have been seriously developing and writing a novel. But I saw Knives Out last night and loved it. In fact, the third act was a real “ah-ha” moment for me in regards to the novel I’m writing. I spent the entire drive home talking to myself about the “big black void” that you want to hide from the reader for as long as possible after it happens.

In other words, I now know the exact sequence of events that pretty much the basis of the whole novel’s plot. Now that I know that, I can spend a lot of time dropping clues to the reader leading up to that event and then spend the rest of the novel slowly explaining to them what happened. It’s a major step forward in the plot. Though I have to admit the novel is going to be a lot more Knives Out and a lot less Gone Girl for no other reason than I simply am not as twisted and dark as Gillian Flynn is. I’m just too nice. But I still have a time to make things darker than I am naturally inclined to do, I guess.

One thing is clear — this novel is going to fast paced and very easy to film if it ever became that popular. I’m a visual person and love movies and it’s just difficult for me not to essentially write a novel that’s very cinematic in nature from the ground up. In that sense, I am very much like Michael Crichton in the sense that I think he wrote his novel’s with the assumption they would be filmed.

On a side note, I really, really like Daniel Craig. He’s the gold standard for who I imagine my Hero being in my mind. But there are a lot of problems with that relative to who the character is. My Hero is too much like me in ( some respects) for there to be a 1-to-1 correlation. But I am trying to make my female romantic lead a lot like a combination of Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Alexa Chung. Sorta. She’s definitely sort of in that spectrum of brunette British woman.

But anyway, I still have a huge amount of work to do. But I am definitely pushing myself to my creative limits in development, if nothing else. This novel is becoming more and more a reflection of my own personal history and personality.

A Way The Story Is Getting Better Structurally

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

To date, I’ve been very strict with my structure because I really want to stay in the 165,000 to 185,000 word sweet spot. But looking at the macro structure of the story, I realize the time has come not to be so tough on myself.

I need to let the story breathe some structurally. So, things should move a lot faster, hopefully. The structure isn’t going to fit the “rules” absolutely. It’s going to be a little different than it’s “supposed” to be. But it still fits the general rules, just not as strictly.

So over the course of the next few days, I’m going to flesh out scenes on a tactical level. I hope to start writing again no later than early next week, if not sooner. I just have to believe in myself.

The story is strong enough and I know the universe well enough that I should not be absolute in some of my “rules” that I have previously placed on myself. And, yet, I needed to that earlier because it gave me some guidelines. Now that I feel a little bit more comfortable with the story, I think I can simply go where I feel the story needs to go.

As such, the first part of the second act is likely going to be a little longer than the second half. Or, to put another way, I can allow there to be more scenes in the first half knowing the second half can have the same number of scenes but actually fewer words.

Or something.

Anyway, I need to keep going.

You Just Have To Believe, Redux

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I have been deleting a lot of the videos I did about the novel I’m writing because they’ve garnered too much attention. I just don’t feel like having to worry about some Hollywood screenwriter somehow cribbing enough from the videos to write a screenplay inspired by what I’m working on.

Now, I know this is rather paranoid. But only the paranoid survive. All I have is my belief in myself. I would prefer they come out with a hack rip off of my novel’s concept sooner rather than later so I can at least not have wasted a lot of time on it.

But if this were to happen, I’m sure it would come out just about the time I want to sell the book, if not later. That I’m this paranoid is even crazier given that I have spoken in rather vague terms about what exactly I’m working on.

I just can’t handle seeing a lot of people looking the videos in my Webstats. It makes me extremely uneasy because I don’t know _why_ they’re looking at a post, just that they’re looking at it.

Anyway. The last few days I’ve kind of been resting my mind. I think I’m going to finally get back to working on the novel very soon. No later than tomorrow, maybe. It’s just the entire country is on vacation and I think I sense that enough to not feel like doing much work, either.

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.

Why I Walked Out Of ‘Booksmart’ (But You Should See It)

by Shelton Bumgarner
Instagram: WriterShelt

I hated Booksmart.

I hated it — and hate it — so much that I begin to seethe with rage at the idea of it. And, yet, it’s nothing personal against Olivia Wilde and the movie itself is probably pretty good — if you’re a woke, bi curious Generation Z girl taking your SATs for the first time.

I walked out of the movie at just about the inciting incident because first I despised that clueless rant about lesbian sex, I hated how bad some of the acting was obviously going to be — Billie Lourd, sigh — I hated how much of an updated rip off of Heathers the movie was and I hated the entire premise of what I was expected to sit through for the next hour and a half.

So I bounced.

This is coming from a person who bounced from an equally critically acclaimed Bird Man. I hated that movie and walked out of it, too.

Now, the reason why I even talk about any of this to begin with is while movies like Booksmart serve an admirable purpose and help proto-lesbians see representation in film, they also have a corrosive effect overall. What I mean by this is Booksmart is a prime example of how Hollywood — or at least a woke subset of it — apparently has completely given up on 48% of the audience and just wants to suck its own dick (to quote The Mooch.) There’s a reason why Sniper was such a huge hit — there’s a pretty big untapped market for center-Right heteronormative storytelling. (Not to cast aspersions on non-heteronormative stories, just to observe what’s going on.)

Again — I was not the audience of this movie and only went because I keep seeing ads for it in my center-Left social media echo chamber. It was like I was being guilt-tripped into seeing it. I did not want to see it, knowing I would likely hate it. But I decided to give it a chance. And, guess what?

I fucking hated it.

The great sin this movie committed is it allowed its ideology to take over and warp the narrative of the movie to such an extent that I couldn’t get pass the inciting incident and left the theatre altogether.

But given that I was not the audience and I did not see the entire movie, I still feel comfortable recommending it to other people. If you’re younger than me, or more of a Leftist, you probably really will love the movie as much as the entertainment-industrial flack complex tells us you will.

Anyway, I’m writing a novel that deals with a lot of the same issues as Booksmart. But, given that I’m a smelly brutish male, I’m sure even if I’m as empathetic as possible to the stories of people don’t look like me, someone, somewhere, will discount the novel as simply another member of the patriarchy exploiting the lives of women, minorities and members of the LGBQ+ community for their own gain. (I’m being a bit sarcastic, dummy.)

All I can do is keep my head down and try to tell the story I want to tell. I think Wilde did a great job, you should go see Booksmart and ignore everything I just wrote.

Who would listen to me, anyway?

V-Log: Novel Notes For June 8th, 2019 — Development Is Going Well (So Far)

by Shelton Bumgarner

Some thoughts.

Novel Notes For April 4, 2019 — AOC, The Internal Logic Of Movies Versus Novels & County Government Issues

Some thoughts.

V-Log: The State of The ‘Thriller’ I’m Developing As Of Jan. 22nd

Some thoughts.