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

by Shelton Bumgarner

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

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

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.

Let’s Flip The Script (For The Time Being) — Trump & The Bonfire Of The Inanities

by Shelton Bumgarner

As I have written about at great length, I’m working on a scifi novel. While I’ve been developing it in my mind for about 7 years now, only in the last few months have I been hard at work developing it in any real way. Now that I realize what the story is about — and the characters — I realize do to the story justice I have to go in directions I’m not quite prepared to go.

As such, I think I’m going to cool it on that front for a little bit. I know I want to tell a story, I just don’t know if the scifi concept is THE story I want to tell right now. Anyway, I have a vague notion of a novel concept that is much more personal and easy to write — I think. But it’s really gauzy and muddled at this point and I would definitely have to do a lot of thinking and developing of the concept AGAIN before I sat down to do a scene summary.

But it’s worth a try. I’ve been doing pretty much nothing the last few days and it’s time to be productive. I may bounce back and forth between the scifi concept and this new concept simply to keep myself interested, if no nothing else.

What I don’t want is the story to turn into some sort of Trump Era “Bonfire Of The Vanities.” That’s not my goal. I know I want to do a character study of sorts and do so in a way that only a 200,000 word novel affords. Anyway, I think I have things figured out. But I don’t know. It’s going to take a little while.

A Crisis Of POV Characters In The #Scifi #Novel I’m Developing #Writing

by Shelton Bumgarner

I keep coming to major points in the scene summary I’m writing and finding enormous structural problems that force me to return to the start to fix. One of the latest is I did all this work and realized I had way, way too many scenes using the POV of characters who weren’t the two main characters.

In a sense, I wasn’t giving the two main characters enough “screentime,” if you will.

So, now I have to go back and figure out how I can address the issues I want to address using the POV of the two main characters a lot more. That’s my immediate task, at least. Once I straighten that out, I think I can start to move — again — out of the first act and into the first half of the second act. As I’ve mentioned before, my goal for that portion of the novel is to use the same dynamic associated with my relationship with the late Annie Shapiro when then two of us were in Seoul about a decade ago. That’s going to be the heart of the story, at least.

It’s going to require a lot of fancy footwork to plop what happened in Seoul into the scifi world I’ve managed to think up. But I honestly can’t think of any other thing off the top of my head that would give the story a “heart.” What happened between Annie and me in Seoul is really, really interesting and using the dynamic of that situation (which I know oh-so-well) would be a great way to not only flesh the characters out, but to move the plot along.

Anyway, wish me luck. I have no idea how well yet another reworking of the story is going to go.

Struggling With Developing The #Scifi #Novel I’m #Writing In The Context Of #Screenwriting

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’m slowly, but surely, beginning to understand what this story is about. As it stands, apparently this concept is heavily influenced by a few movies — not novels — that I really like. I really like The Martian, The Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind and Mission: Impossible — Fallout. Those three movies are really influencing me as I struggle to develop this novel. I’m very much an extrovert, so the lone-wolf nature of writing a novel goes against my nature of socializing while I’m creative.

But I have no friends and I don’t want to write a screenplay — at least right now — so here I am. I do find myself thinking on a visual level the novel as I write it. I really like the fact that when you write a novel everything is up to you, the author, to present to the audience. With a screenplay, really, all you do is think up a concept, some conflict and a lot of dialogue and then sit back and wait for the director and the producer to have at it.

I definitely do what to write a screenplay at some point in the future, for no other reason than I have many, many movie concepts floating around in my mind that I want to explore. But I’ve really put a lot of effort into this novel’s development, so I going to keep pushing forward.

I just have to believe in myself.

Idle Rambling About Character Development In The #Scifi #Novel I’m #Writing

by Shelton Bumgarner

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to use what happened between me and the late Annie Shapiro in Seoul as the “heart” of the scifi novel I’m writing. It’s where I’m going to pull my character development from, if nothing else. But I’m no Charlie Kaufman, so I don’t really expect to pull off a Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. But I honestly don’t know where else to look.

My hope is that this novel will be nice fusion of scifi and love story just like Kaufman’s movie. But that really is a long shot given I’m a novice and I’m just writing this novel because I feel compelled to. But we’ll see, I guess. I really need to just keep going.

Honing in on the events of ROKon Magazine as inspiration definitely will help in writing the novel moving forward. It gives me an emotional core that I can cling to when I don’t know what else to do. But that comes with some dangers. If I don’t watch out, the whole story could devolve into a mish-mash of genres and goals that leaves everyone scratching their head. But I don’t know. I just don’t know.

I’m really enjoying writing this novel — I’m really just developing it at this point — and they say you’re supposed to give yourself permission to write crap the first draft, if nothing else. I’m going to do just that, I guess. I just have to finally reach a point where I feel comfortable with a scene summary to use as a guide to write the first draft. This is taking much, much longer than I ever expected.

‘The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind’ As A #Scifi Story & My #Scifi #Novel

by Shelton Bumgarner

The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is really two genres fused perfectly to such an extent that you can’t really tell where the scifi story ends and the romantic “dramady” begins. It takes a scifi conceit — what if you could erase bad memories? — and runs with it in the context of a failed relationship.

Meanwhile, I have a scifi conceit that I realize won’t have any heart if I don’t really make it a love story of sorts. And, sense I don’t really have any love stories floating around other than the bizarro story arch of what happened between me and Annie Shapiro in Seoul about a decade ago. I have to be careful that the story doesn’t devolve into me simply bitching angrily about how poorly I was treated all those years go.

I’m no Charlie Kaufman. I am simply not that good a writer, but I do have a really strong concept to work with and as such I think if I can get anywhere near the interesting romantic story told in The Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, I’ll have accomplished something. What happened with me and Annie was really, really interesting and if I manage to shoehorn that general story into the scifi novel I’m writing then it will hopefully be a lot closer to The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and a lot less like, say, The Martian. (Even though I love that book / movie.)

But only time will tell, I guess.

The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind In The Context Of The #Scifi #Novel I’m #Writing

by Shelton Bumgarner

As this concept evolves, I find myself taking inspiration from some unusual places. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve got a lot of inspiration from the latest Mission: Impossible as well as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. But these days, I find myself mulling the emotional beauty of The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.

The crux of that story is that it’s really a love story that just happens to have a scifi element. Given that I pretty much just have one plot in my head — what happened to me and Annie Shapiro in Seoul working on ROKon Magazine, when I got to the end of the first act the last go round, I was struck by the fact that not only did the story not really have any character development — there was no main character, if you will, but it still didn’t really have any heart.

That’s why I now find myself starting all over again — in a way — to lean into what I love about The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. As such, I hope to make the first half of the second act pretty much the same dynamic that existed between myself and Annie in the most eventful part of the ROKon Magazine mini-saga. That’s where I’m going to get my character development, at least. And it’s also where some of the more interesting aspects of this story are going to shake out.

To put it another way, the characters are beginning to take shape and as such the things needed to make them believable and interesting are beginning to change the structure of the novel. So tonight is going to be a lot of rewriting — again — to get the scenes to jibe with some much needed character development so we have some sort of setup for what happens once the two main characters find themselves in the “special world” of the second act.

Hopefully I will soon finish a new scene summary and be able to start writing the actual novel again. I hope, at least. I’ve been reworking the scene summary for months now and I think it has more to do with how bad the original scene summary was and less to do with me just not wanting to take a chance on writing a really bad first draft.

More Mulling Character Development In The #Scifi #Novel I’m #Writing

by Shelton Bumgarner

One of the things I really have to focus on is character development in the novel I’m developing. I have a really strong concept, but I got to the end of the first act the last go-round and realized there the novel didn’t really follow the structure of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. In that novel, the focus of POV scenes is definitely on two people. There are subplots, but the most screen time is devoted two the two main POV characters.

So, that’s why I’m starting from scratch — in a sense — so I can build the foundation of the two main characters and their relationship. Each time I start all over again, not only does the story drift far, far away from the original conceit, it gets far better as well.

Anyway, tonight, I hope to fix some structural problems the new setup of the novel has developed. The story is definitely getting better, but each time I start all over again, I usually have some pretty big structural problems that I have to fix along the way as well.

It will be interesting to see how far I get tonight. It’s going to require a lot of thinking to figure out what the characters do in such a way that I can squeeze the most character development out of them going forward.