After Two Years Of Development I May Have Figured How To Structure My Novel

by Shelt Garner

Right now, my only concern is it’s taking me about a week to finish a chapter, which is way, way, way too slow. I need to triple that to get this done before Trump’s third term.

But at least I have figured out how *I* structure the development of the novel associated with actually writing the novel. Things are moving fast in that respect, at least. I have the ebb and flow of writing down pat.

Yet, of course, there is still the issue of speed. I understand how to be methodical with my writing — I’m not running of my passionate hatred of the Trump Administration that much anymore. Now, the novel is more like a job I really love.

As I’ve said before, I am in a very unique situation with this novel. This ideal situation isn’t going to last forever and I really need to squeeze every moment out of this opportunity. If I don’t, I’m going to be kicking myself when it’s no longer available.

I think I can speed things up some, maybe. I just really need to stay focused on the overall picture.

Dear Seth Rogen: Here’s The Plot of Your ‘Alien Test’ Movie

by Shelt Garner

Working Title “Radar Love”
The first thing we see before the opening credits is a microscopic spaceship slowing down as it enters our solar system. It lands on the moon. Soon a bigger — but still small — spaceship shoots out of the lunar surfance, heading towards earth. This small ship finally enters the earth’s atmosphere and lands somewhere rather non-descriptive in either LA or NYC. After a few moments, the spot where the little ship landed begins to shift and bubble.

Opening Credits

Act I
We open with our Hero walking into work at his 80s radioshow in LA (or NYC). We’re introduced to the zany characters of his show. We learn a little backstory. He’s recently broken up with his long-term girlfriend and he’s feeling a little sorry for himself.

But once he’s on air, he switches gears and is very much a Robin Williams in “Good Morning, Vietnam.”

Inciting Incident: Our Hero wraps up the broadcast for the day and is told by his secretary that there’s someone to see him. He notices a well dress ethnically ambiguous woman standing in the foyer waiting for him. He’s taken aback that someone so hot would want to talk to him. After some pleasantries we cut to the two having coffee.

The woman acts as if she’s been listening to his 80s rock show avidly and yet there’s something a little off about her. She finally looks at him and says there’s something she has to tell him. She places her hand on his and there’s a 2001’s star gate sequence that we see happening in his mind.

He wakes up on a cot in a strange windowless room. He searches his mind for what happened and is boggled by the amount of information he now knows. The woman he met for coffee appears again and asks him if he’s ready? Ready for what, he asks. Our meeting, she says.

Act 1 ends with our Hero realizing he’s in a huge spaceship floating over Washington DC. He and the woman go down the steps of the ship and ultimately meet POTUS.

Act 2

This portion of the plot involves our hero coming involved in a huge planet-wide struggle. Everyone is upset that some nobody has been chosen by aliens to take a huge test that will determine humanity’s fate. There’s lots of efforts to discredit him. The aliens are absolutely clear — they love the music he plays and he’s their guy.

Midpoint: Because no one believes the aliens when they say they can move several hundred million humans to a new solar system, our Hero has to test out the technology. He takes a pill and wakes up in a pod on the other side of the planet.

The rest of this act involves the bad guys trying to screw up our hero’s attempts to take the test in question. He ultimately takes the test — it’s simply a test of his musical knowledge — and he passes with flying colors.

The “all is lost” moment of the second act is when it seems clear that humanity is too divided to take advantage of this amazing offer. The aliens get fed up and leave earth. In desperation, our Hero plays rock music at his radio station in a desperate hope to convince them to come back. (He talks to them via the titles of rock songs.)

At the very end of the act, it seems All Is Lost.

Act 3
Surprise! The aliens come back. Act three involves the process of moving people off the planet. The last scene is our Hero waking up on the new planet and realizing humanity has a second chance to get things right.

Of course, you need to throw in some romance somewhere along the way…maybe with the alien girl who is some sort of synthetic human?

Becoming More Methodical With Development of This #Novel

by Shelt Garner

The general conceit of this novel is very strong. After about two years of struggle, I’ve come up with up with a reasonable way to explore the universe I’ve constructed that isn’t too convoluted.

But now that I’m going from the abstract of development to actually writing, I’m really bumping up against some serious problems on occasion. I have a general way I sketch out individual scenes in the outline I’ve come up with and sometimes I have to throw out entire scenes because they just don’t work. There’s no there there, as they say.

I have decided to do three chapters at a time now in hopes of speed the process up some. I’ve been doing about a chapter a week since I started writing again and that’s just way too slow.

I also need to start reading some of the 30-odd books I have floating around. They say if you have time to write you have time to read and I really agree with that.

One thing that’s difficult to deal with is the temperature. It’s brutally hot, even with the air conditioning on. So, that slows me down a little bit. But I’m giving myself an arbitrary deadline of Sunday afternoon to wrap up a the scene summary of a three chapter segment. Hopefully, if I can do that, then I can maybe wrap up three chapters in a week, no just one.

There’s so much to do still. It’s rather overwhelming, but at least I’m moving forward. The story still isn’t dark enough, but I’m hoping I can get there on that front with the second draft.

That’s the goal, at least.

Getting More Serious With The Novel

by Shelt Garner

I continue to allow myself to be as delusional as necessary to finish this first draft. That’s pretty delusional, all things considered. By the metric of any “normal” person I’m a fool wasting my time in a very conspicuous manner. But fuck those people. I have a vision and I’m going to see it to completion.

I keep mulling screenplays and pushing them aside. The thing I’ve realized about being serious about storytelling is the amount of research that’s involved. You really need to reach as much as possible if you want to give your characters some nuance.

Anyway, my goal, at least, is to use August to buckle down and write as quickly as possible. To date, I’ve finished about a chapter a week and that’s way too slow. I’m going to try to shoot for something closer to three chapters a week. It helps a lot that I know how *I* develop a novel now, so that speeds things up a great deal.

I guess the reason why I think this novel has a shot is I absolutely believe that when I finally get around to shopping it to agents, America is going to be seething with rage that Trump stole the 2020 election in a rather brazen fashion and and so people will be interested in reading something like an allegory of the Trump Era. I believe Trump is going to steal the election in such an absolute way, that I know the conditions will be there for people to want to read something like what I’ve come up with.

Though, even if somehow a literal miracle from Jesus Christ himself happens and Biden manages to actually, somehow become president, I still think people will be interested in such a novel because, well, people liked Apocalypse Now and THAT came out after the event it meant to described was finished.

Anyway. I hope to get far more work done on the novel than I have to date. I’m just going to read and write as much as I possibly can. This is a really strong concept and the only thing stopping me at this point is how much I’m willing to delude myself.

The First Draft Of This #Novel is Going Reasonably Well #amwriting

by Shelt Garner

After making what feels like every possible mistake one can make when working no a novel, I’ve finally figured out how I, personally, develop and write a novel.

As such, things are beginning to move a lot quicker. The only thing stopping this novel from being, say, something along the lines of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is I, well, I’m not as good a writer as she is. That and I’m simply not as dark and twisted as she is. Getting as dark and serious as this thing needs to be to fit the genre is going to be a second draft struggle.

But, in general, for the moment, at least, things are moving swiftly. I’m plotting things out in a very methodical manner so when I actually sit down to write, there isn’t a lot of work to do. All I have to do is just follow the summary for that individual scene I’ve written and that’s it.

It helps a lot that I know the universe of this story very, very well. Really, all I have to do is just tell a subset of the massive universe I’ve come up with via the plot.

One thing I do need to work on is character. I have several books on character development that I need to read and re-read. But, in general, I’m pleased with how things are going, even though there remain some pretty big holes in the plot I have to figure out.

Mulling Screenplay Concepts

by Shelt Garner

For a time, I was all excited about having two creative “tracks” that I was going to have going forward. On one would be the novel I’m working on, while the other would be a screenplay. This, however, did not work out. I’m so completely consumed by the novel that I simply am not able to pull myself away from it.

But I continue to occasionally think about different potential screenplays. Being a screenwriter is much, much different than being a novelist because, well, Hollywood. I know myself well enough that if I did ever manage to finish a script I am so good at self-promotion — and socializing — that there would be a decent chance I would find myself in Hollywood (which is on the other side of the country from me) on occasion to hunt down family people to hand my script to. I’m fairly good at meeting famous people and so that part would be a cinch.

Screenplays have a whole different internal logic than novels. With a novel, you have to explain in a lot of detail why something happens. In a screenplay, lulz, you can think up the most bonkers conceit and get away with it with not a lot of explanation because that would really, really slow the story down.

I’ve been working on one idea for about a decade because it’s something of The Impossible Scenario. I love scenarios and there’s been one I’ve been working on for years and years that I simply can not figure out. But I’ve thought it through so much, that I find myself returning to it again and again. I won’t give you details, but imagine if humanity got an astonishing offer but with a catch — we had to work together as a race to figure the specifics of something out.

I like the idea that the audience would be on the edge of its seat as I walked them through the Biggest Event In Human History that kept getting hung up on the stupidest of differences between humans.

Another idea I have is The Martian, but for time travel. I have a decent method through which you could get some regular guy stuck in the past and you’d see how he if not escaped, at least made his life a lot better. But that one is problematic because I would want to do it absolutely hyper-realistic. So that might make it a bit more difficult to place it in the far past. I had the idea of maybe The Martian meets time travel meets Mad Men.

That would be pretty cool.

Anyway, one issue is buying FinalDraft. It’s so expensive that I think buying it would be the end of the beginning of the process of writing a screenplay. I would have gotten all my development finished and would be literally about to sit down and write when I bought it.

It’s Surreal How Much My #WIP’s #MC Looks Like #Zendaya In My Imagination

by Shelt Garner

First, let me stress I fucking hate it when aspiring novelists preen about this or that actor would be perfect for the movie adaptation of the “work in progress.” Oh, Jesus. Just shut up and write.

But, I will note, in passing that the heroine the novel I’m working on IS Zendaya in my imagination. It’s not a perfect one-to-one for a very specific reason, but it’s spooky that I would independent of being any sort of Zendaya fan come up with a character that resembles her so much.

This is a novel, not a screenplay, so lulz. And I’m just an anonymous middle-aged man in the rural part of a flyover state so the probability of selling this novel is about the same as me winning the lottery.

And, yet, it is fun to occasionally daydream about such things. It’s all very much mental masturbation, of course, but no one reads this blog an I’m just talking to myself at this point.

Ok, Back To #Writing

by Shelt Garner

I have rested long enough. Today, after I do my usual Sunday morning ruminating, I’m going to sketch out some scenes and get back to writing. This is just a first draft, so I have to give myself permission to write crap.

The issue about writing a first draft is, at least for me, it helps to give later consistency to the story because once it’s done I can print it out, read it through and use the annotations to make a much better second draft. There’s a whole lot I simply don’t know when it comes to the details of all of this — how long is it really going to take to write two drafts? I’d like to wrap up the second draft by Thanksgiving, but that seems like it might be pushing it.

I have a huge amount of reading to do, as well. A lot of the reading I have to do is to flesh out characters. Right now, a number of important characters are paper thin and only by doing a significant amount of reading can I make them far better. My bad guys aren’t really all that bad and my heroes aren’t really all that deep. I have some ideas as to how to fix that issue, but it’s going to take some reading to do.

The thing that is really at the forefront of my mind with this novel is how old I am. In general, conventional wisdom is if you don’t have a career in the arts (showbiz) by your early 30s, then, lulz. So, if I somehow win the lottery with this novel and write a break out novel, my age is going to be the angle that a lot of people use.

I find this very irritating because I can’t help how old I am. I should be judged on the merits of the work, not how old I was when I wrote it. Age is much like gender or race — it’s totally out of your control. Not everyone has the luxury of living a “normal” life and, as such, you shouldn’t be judged if maybe you’re about 20 years older than you’re “supposed to be” to sell your first novel.

I also find — if what they produce on Twitter is any indication — many of my peers writing novels to be insufferable. I don’t care how many words you’ve written. I don’t care who you think should play your MC of your WIP in the movie version. Give me a fucking break.

I’d much rather hear about your personal philosophy on writing than such preening bullshit. Now, I’m the first to admit that I often do similar things on video on Instagram or on this blog, but I feel that the context is different. I’m just talking to myself because I have no friends and no one likes me. I’m operating in a vacuum and all the talking I do about the novel is out of sheer desperation, not some preening need to prove I can write 3,000 words in a day.

Also, I get the sense that a lot of the established writers out there probably wouldn’t take me very seriously, even if I did managed to sell this novel. I’m not snooty or pretentious enough. I don’t take myself very seriously and I’m an extreme extrovert. (Hence all the talking into the void about the novel.)

Anyway. I’m looking forward to getting back to writing.

‘The Vision Thing’ #AmWriting

by Shelt Garner

I have a lot to say about the Trump Era. So much, in fact, that I’m allowing a novel I’m developing and writing that gives me about 165,000 words to vent to completely consume my life.

The thing about this novel is I feel compelled to keep working on it despite the massive amount of thinking I have to do because every day sees another enraging fascist act on the part of the Trump Administration. So every time I feel a bit discouraged at how much work I have ahead of me still, I simply look a Twitter for a few minutes and am, again, enraged.

I feel very powerless about the United States being a fascist state. I honestly can’t do much about it for various reasons. But I can tell a good story and love, love, love to write, so here I am. I have a number of decent stories I may piviot to once I finish the two books associated with this story I’ve come up with. But I have way too much invested in this specific project to look elsewhere just yet.

There are at least a half a dozen scenes that I really want to write sprinkled throughout the two novels I have planned and so I keep going. Add to this the huge fucking chip on my shoulder I have about people telling me how much I suck in general and, well, ain’t no stopping me now.

One thing I will point out is I will about once a week take a little bit of a breather from the novel to think . I’m very grateful for the opportunity I have at the moment to be able to do this. This special moment in time won’t last forever and so I need to stop dilly-dallying and start getting to work again as soon as possible whenever such a pause happens.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting back to actually writing the first draft again. I really need to make this thing darker, because right now it’s pretty much just The World According to Garp with guns.

There’s so much that can go wrong with this project, but as my dad says, “No one ever got anywhere in this world with taking a risk.”

Giving Myself The Right To Be Delusional With This #Novel

by Shelt Garner

I’m completely delusional about this novel, at least relative to the metrics that a “normal” person would use. A “normal” person would look at what’s going on and say I’m wasting my time for a number of reasons and I should just “write a short story” to see if I can get anything published.

Those people can suck it.

Sometimes, being an eccentric is an advantage. I know I’ve come up with a really engaging, interesting conceit and I have the writing ability to pull it off. But I also have a very brutal internal editor and that slows things down a great deal because I have very exacting — if rather arbitrary — demands on how this novel is, among other things, structured.

The key thing I have to remind myself is this is a marathon, not a sprint and if I take an occasionally little break of a few days, it’s not the end of the world. I have an outline that I keep struggling with and the whole thing is very, very draining because I’m operating in a vacuum and continue to be extremely paranoid that either someone is going to “steal” my idea or someone else is going to independent of me “steal a march” on me.

But I keep going.

If I had not invested so much already in this novel and didn’t have the momentum I have, I would probably just give up and turn to a different concept. But I really like the characters, plot and canon I’ve come up with this novel and so unless some outside event occurs that proves to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that this specific creative project is moot, I’m pushing forward bit by bit like I have been for about two years.