Development Struggles With My Novel’s Female Romantic Lead



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


I started off wanting my novel’s female romantic lead to be someone like Alexa Chung. Then she gradually evolve into someone more like Jodi Kantor. Now, she seems more inspired by Crooked Media’s Erin Ryan.

The reasons for this are simple. Chung is too much of a celebrity to write easily and, besides, what would she do? It’s difficult to stand around being gorgeous and witty in a novel. Her character needs to be active in the story. Meanwhile, while the actual human being Jodi Kantor probably has a lot of character, my writing isn’t good enough to portray the type of person she is (very smart and intense) without her character overshadowing the hero. So, now, I find myself thinking about using Erin Ryan as inspiration.

Ryan is very smart and has a lot of spunk. She’s also a bit younger than the other two women, so that affords a different dynamic than might otherwise exist. The dynamic between men, women and age is something you really have to think about seriously if you’re trying to write a novel that’s believable.

None of the women I mentioned would sit next to me in a restaurant. I can’t help how old I am or what I look like. I am who I am. I mean well and can tell a good story. It’s their loss if they think I’m just middle-aged creepy weirdo.

Anyway, my novel’s female romantic lead is now a combination of Alexa Chung, Jodi Kantor AND Erin Ryan. But, remember, while I can articulate a vision pretty well, my writing simply isn’t what it could be. So, there’s every reason to believe that while I can explain to you my vision for the character, should you actual read the character in the novel, you won’t be able to see the connection as clearly as I’ve stated here.

Who knows.

Things Are Still In Flux With This Novel



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


As this novel’s story grows stronger, I realize some things just don’t work. Sometimes, some pretty big issue stare me in the face for a few days until I figure out how to fix them.

Right now, I have a whole slate of fairly large issues I have to deal with. I’m going to sit down this evening and explicitly state what they are so I can hopefully fix them. I’m quite pleased with the state of the novel right now (it’s just an outline right now) but I have to finish this stage first before I can sit down and start to write.

Or, more specifically, before I can begin to flesh out the individual lines of the outline into individual scenes descriptions that I can use to write scenes with. But the key issue is to just keep going, no matter what. I know I’m being fussy, but I’d much rather be fussy now and have a great product to use as a starting off point than fail — again — to finish anything of note at all.

I know I shouldn’t talk about what I’m working on, but I can’t help myself. That’s who I am. I love to talk and write and I have no friends, so here we are.

Idle Rambling About The ‘Wind of Change’ Podcast, #JodiKantor, #JessicaAlba & The #Novel I’m #Writing



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Some thoughts.

My Novel’s Female Romantic Lead As Twitter Liberal



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


Every story needs an outsider to serve as the proxy for the audience. They ask questions that you need to answer for them. For my story, I’m using someone inspired — sorta — by someone like Jodi Kantor. I’m not a good enough writer to properly represent this type person, but in general the novel’s female romantic lead is meant to be, essentially, a Verified Twitter Liberal.

There are some problems with doing this. One is, I fear Twitter Liberals will like this character more than the actual Hero if I’m not careful. I know the mentality of Twitter Liberals well enough to fake it in a character, but I’m nervous that if i do too good a job, they’re going to be more interested in my female romantic lead than, well, my Hero.

But the point of using a Twitter Liberal as my female romantic lead is to prove a point — in the end, we’re all human. That, and the fact that having a character inspired by Jodi Kantor fall for a character inspired by bonkers me is very, very funny to me. It’s both a challenge and entertaining to me as I develop to see if I can pull this otherwise surreal relationship off.

But, again, it’s going to be a huge challenge. Everyone thinks I suck. Everyone wants me to fail. Everyone is looking for some reason to make this all moot. But I believe in myself, nonetheless. I think Ms. Kantor has looked at this Website and found me, shall we say, lacking. I can’t help what a kook I am (using her metrics). I am who I am. I try my best to be the best person I can possibly be.

Anyway, things continue to move quicker with development.

I’m quite pleased.

Building A Mystery



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

After what feels like a very long time — but really is about 18 months — I’ve finally come to the make-or-break portion of development: the mystery. I know what happened at the center of this story, but now I have to figure out how someone would try to unravel it.

So I find myself cramming a number of investigative reporting. I’m reading Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s “She Said.” I’m reading Ronan Farrow’s “Catch and Kill.” And I’m listening to the Crooked Media podcast “Wind of Change.” The latter is interesting because it involves music and the CIA. Which, given the conceit of the novel, is very useful. The more I listen to it, the more I feel I’m going to have to give it a shoutout in the Author’s Note.

But the major issue is I’ve come up with a very complex situation that I have to unravel slowly through investigation. I have to think of different ways to do all of this believably. But it’s also all very much outside my comfort zone. Even when I was a reporter, I wasn’t a very good one. So, I have to really learn a lot of things about investigative reporting that I know nothing about.

And, yet, that’s kind of the crux of the story. The part I don’t know anything about.

I have a huge amount of reading to do about character, investigation and leadership — just to name a few things. That is going to slow me down some, but hopefully not too much. I’m still on track to start writing again no later than June 1st.

Of Someone Writing A Screenplay Inspired From My Development Writing Online



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


I vacillate dramatically from assuming that, of course, someone is going to use all my development on this Website to write a screenplay that “steals” my idea to wondering, how, exactly, they would do it.

I guess you could get the general gist of the concept if you looked at what I’ve been writing about and talking about the last 18 months, but even if you did do that, your interpretation of the concept and mine would likely be dramatically different.

I keep seeing people poking around this Website in my Webstats and that alarms me because I assume that of course my worst fears are being realized. And, yet, really, the idea I am working on is so expansive and ambitious that a screenplay would be, by definition, dramatically different than the novel I’m writing.

If I had, like, friends and stuff, then this wouldn’t be an issue. I would talk to them about what I’m working on and I wouldn’t have this problem. My only hope is that even if people were actively stealing from me at this point, it would still take actual physical time to develop the screenplay. And the subject matter of this novel is such that I find it dubious that even if someone could somehow accurately reverse-engineer the concept from what I’ve done here, I’m not so sure they would actually steal the story beat-for-beat.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe that’s exactly what’s happening.

But I’m of the opinion that you make decisions on what you know, not on what you don’t know. I could just give up and assume someone is going to steal this concept from me, or I can work harder and faster so at least I finish something sooner rather than later.

If you are trying to “steal” my story — fuck you, you hack.

Outline Rambling



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


Things are moving a lot faster because I’m doing an outline of the novel instead of putting all that much work into fleshing out individual scenes. This process allows me to get far further into the novel than I usually do before everything falls apart and I have to start from scratch.

The downside of this is I realize what a massive task I have ahead of me. I have a very complex plot with some pretty huge structural issues that I continue to bump up against as I develop. The biggest problem is how ambitious this novel is. I’m trying to explore the entirety of the Trump Era through allegory. There’s just so much going on, that it’s a struggle to make it all easy to understand. And, really, the only thing that allows me to keep going is I know how great this story is.

I’m willing to throw my heart into this project because I know I can produce something pretty cool — an entertaining — if I just keep at it. I have to believe in myself. I can’t give up. I’ve gotten this far, I have to be willing to do whatever it takes to herd it to completion.

I’m trying to move as fast as I can on this outline. I hope to start writing again no later than June 1st.

An Unexpected Struggle With The Novel As It Grows Better



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Things are moving fast with the novel. And, yet, as my storytelling ability gets better, I realize there are some major flaws with what I have right now. I came up with a very complex situation for this story when all of this began and as my writing ability gets better I realize how much work telling the story I want to tell will entail.

I have a very specific vision and I’m willing to put the work into this novel to make that vision a reality. It’s just every once in a while, I have to re-calibrate some pretty significant parts of the story, long after I think I have things settled.

But at least I’m recognizing these problems now, instead of getting all excited and showing it to beta readers, only to have them laugh at me. (Or, worse yet, to simply give me silence.) I’m doing a massive amount of reading right now to catch up to where I should be with this novel.

One problem I’ve had is I’ve been drafting so much off of what Stieg Larsson did with The Girl Who Played With Fire, that now that I realize my novel isn’t served by doing that anymore, some fundimental issues have come up. I really want this novel to be something of a “brown shoe” for readers in the sense that superficially, at least, it seems like just another thriller — even though it’s, in fact, an allegory for the Trump Era.

So, I struggle a lot with how to properly tell this story in the way my gut tells me to — I’m essentially doing everything in a vacuum. I have no friends and no one will help me, so all I have is my personal vision of the story I want to tell. I talk a lot about this novel online for no other reason than it gives me a socially acceptable way to talk to myself.

At this point, the only thing that keeps me going is I know how important this story might be if properly written. There are a lot of existential problems with this novel — all of them, well, directly connected to me. But I’ve been working on this thing so long that I think the point is to just wrap up the outline and write something, anything starting June 1st.

Things Are Moving Fast Now



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


Now that I have a handle on my POV characters, things are moving far faster. In fact, the only thing slowing me down finishing the outline and writing is the massive amount of research I realize I have to do. I have to understand the characters I’ve come up with and the only way to do so is to know what they would know.

I still have a fair amount of reading to do on the abstract of character development, but simply see that as more reading.

I really understand far better the point of this story (two novels, one story). That allows both the reading and the research to flow far, far faster. I have an absurd amount of reading to do if I’m going to develop characters that don’t embarrass me what how flimsy they are.

One thing I have to do is beef up my Hero. Right now, he’s simply an exaggerated — and far more stable — version of myself in Seoul about 12 years ago. But for him to be, well, the Hero, he has to be someone you can root for. He has to be active, not just a womanizing drunk who gets away with shit because of how colorful he is.

But I’m really pleased.

I’m reading as much as I can, as fast as I can. I hope to start writing again no later than June 1st. I am very unhappy with how long it’s going to take me — even under the most ideal of circumstances — to start speccing the story out to agents.

But I’m all in. My entire creative life is devoted to this novel. Every day my understanding of the story I want to tell grows stronger.

At the very least, I won’t embarrass myself.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, #Hollywood, #JodiKantor & The #Novel I’m Developing & #Writing

Some thoughts.