Of Novel Scene Structure Or, ‘Don’t Be A Hack’

by Shelt Garner

I’m really getting into the specifics of the structure of novel scenes these days. I’ve begun to stabilize the beginning of the novel to the point that I can take a deep breath and start to look at some of the nitty gritty things that I have ignored to date.

One thing is — structuring a scene can be hard work.

For one, not all scenes are the same. But because a lot of struggling writers — like me — have no idea what they’re doing, they turn to people who seem to have some “reveled truth” about how to write a novel.

There is no reveled truth, by the way.

Anyway, I’ve begun to cobble together my own ideas of how to structure novel scenes. And to me, the key thing is not to be a hack — there are scenes and there are sequels and sometimes there are things that just barely fit the concept of what you’re told a “scene is supposed to do.”

But, in general, I would say you need some sort of “change” in the unit of measure known as a scene. Though sequels are a different thing altogether at times.

I’m really getting out of my comfort zone with this novel, which is good.

Notes On ‘Scriptnotes’

by Shelt Garner

I really enjoy the “Scriptnotes” podcast, but I do have some…notes. My chief beef is the very strength of the podcast is its weakness — it’s two very accomplished, successful and knowledgeable guys talking about what it’s like to be be two very accomplished, successful and knowledgeable guys.

As such, sometimes they are rather….patronizing…to the serious concerns of people who are just starting off in the business. The show seems more for people who actually have a career in Hollywood than someone who aspires to have a career in Hollywood.

But you can’t be all things to all people.

I guess I’m suggesting that there’s a market for a Scriptnotes for extras who aspire to be screenwriters. Or something. A program that takes novice screenwriter’s concerns about IP theft seriously, that kind of stuff.

Yet, in general, I find Scriptnotes interesting. I sometimes feel like a street urchin with my nose pressed against the glass of the podcast as they talk about their careers, but lulz.

The Fall Of The American Empire

by Shelt Garner

If you work on the assumption that some pretty basic concepts about the United States that I assumed to be universal come not from us being a “city on the hill” but, well, because white people were pumping out enough babies to keep them demographically fat and sassy then, well…wow.

It kind of blows my mind that American liberal democracy rests not on American exceptionalism, but the cold, hard metrics of demographics. In fact, in a sense, the whole idea of America being a “melting pot” is a lie: even Germans were seen as a threat in the 1850s-1860s…and they were demonstrably white!

So, if you throw in the speed at which travel happens in the modern world, then pretty much everything wrong with American politics boils down to one thing: a dearth of white babies.

The abortion debate: white women need to pump out more kids!
Immigration: Scary brown people will bring brown babies!
Guns: We have to protect white babies!
Taxes: I need money for my white babies!


What conservatives want is things to go back to “normal” where white people are on top to a point where they don’t even realize they’re on top. As Ezra Kline says in his book, “Why We’re Polarized,” all the civil rights progress of the 1950s and 1960s was seen as largess on the part of the White Majority. Now that White People are nervous about a lack of white babies…screw you guys!

It’s all very disheartening.

All I can say loud mouths like me — who have the most to lose when America slips into autocracy — I need to get the fuck out of this country while I still can.

Fuck MAGA and its false orange prophet.

Thinking Seriously About A Second American Civil War

by Shelt Garner

Where to begin with this one. We have to accept that the United States’ political system is DL rotten to its core and a sizable chunk of the center-Right is chomping at the bit to start murdering people like me.

Barring something I honestly can’t predict, if there is going to be a civil war, it’s probably going to start in the winter of 2024-2025. Long term political trends are loaded in MAGA’s favor in a pretty massive fashion. So, if they can just not bungle the strangling of America’s liberal democracy then they’re set to turn the United States into an American version of Putin’s Russia for the rest of my life.

Just the Electoral College alone is enough to end America’s experiment in self-governance over the course of the next few election cycles. There will come a point when the gap between the popular vote and the Electoral vote grows so fucking enormous that we either start murdering each other in cold blood or we simply give up and slide into an autocracy where I end up in a weaponized ICE camp.

There is pretty much just one way an actual “second American civil war” happens in the United States — something happens during the 2024 election cycle whereby the forces that Trump unleashed in 2020 are taken to the next level. It’s not just the U.S. Capitol that faces an insurrection, it’s entire states that implode into waring governments on a pretty significant level.

The thing that blows my mind is how so many Southern “Lost Cause” fucking motherfucker cocksuckers stroke one out to the idea of a second civil war then come to this Website looking to suck their own cock. Guys, if you weren’t such fucking idiots you would let politics do all the hard work for you. No one gets hurt and you get your white Christian entho state.

But no, you are so angry over “cancel culture” that you want to murder people like me to….prove a point? Idiots.

Anyway, America’s political system is running on fumes. We’re in neutral. The first step towards are worst case scenario is Republicans win back Congress in 2022. (Which they will.)

Like I keep saying — we’re fucked. We’re totally, completely fucked.

Get out of the country if you can. Now.

Why Hollywood Needs More Movies Like ‘Greenland’

by Shelt Garner

Greenland was a good, but not great, movie. But there was one specific aspect to the movie that I have to give it credit for — it wallowed in the tacit conservatism of a regular dude put in extraordinary circumstances trying to keep his family safe.

It was CIS comfort food on a creative level and I think we need more of that kind of stuff if we, like, don’t want the United States to buckle and a second American civil war break out. I’m being serious — a lot of regular old center-Right people I know are really beginning to seethe with rage over “woke” “cancel culture” and the idea that a major Hollywood movie is simply tells a heteronormative story is a change of pace.

I’m all for representation in art — I’m going way out of my way to do just that in the novel I’m working on. But I also find it amusing that even in the genre I’m working with, there are some tropes that if I flip them or toy with them cause me to end up in, well, some pretty heteronormative territory without even thinking about it.

The point is — there’s plenty enough room in this world for all God’s chillins. I love the liberal democracy I live in right now and I’m growing nervous that if the center-Left doesn’t get its act together we’re even more fucked than we might be otherwise.

Remember, all the CPAC cocksuckers need is to get their golden orange god (or someone like him) elected ONE MORE TIME and that’s it. We live in an autocracy for the rest of my life.

We’re fucked. We’re all so totally fucked.

Half-Assed Review: ‘Greenland’ & The 10,000 Year Old Story

by Shelt Garner

I went into “Greenland” blind. As it opened, I thought maybe it would pass what I call the “10,000 year old story” test. This is the following test: could this story be told in some form 10,000 years ago?

It, at first, passes the test.

Man comes back from the hunt. Has problems with his wife. His kid is sick. The world is changing and the story is about how he protects his family in the context of that change.

Then things went crazy with “Greenland.”

The story was soooo contrived and leaned so heavily on zombie movie tropes (even without zombies) that I couldn’t bear to finish watching. Here’s what I would have done:

Greenland SHOULD have been about:

Act I
The lead up. At the end of the first act, the world ends and our Hero is now living underground inside Greenland.

Act 2
Hero and family have to get used to living in this new world.

Midpoint: His son, now an adult — rebels against the strict rules of under-Greenland meant to keep humanity alive (or something)

All is Lost:
His is exiled onto the Aboveland

Third Act
Hero and wife go searching for son.

They go through some adventures but finally discover him.

Turns out, the surface, while a struggle to survive on, is beginning to recover.

Our hero becomes the leader of Aboveland.

Or something.

But the Greenland I saw was a good movie…but not my kind of movie. Way, way, WAY too contrived.

Only Worry About What You Can Control

by Shelt Garner

I’m really worried someone is going to steal a creative march on me with this novel. After all this hard work I’ve put in into it, my nightmare is someone cherry picks parts off and does something more successful with it.

This has happened to me before with ROKon Magazine and so I’m extremely paranoid it will happen again. But as I keep telling myself, worry about what you can control.

Should I learn 100% that someone has “stolen” my concept, then I have a number of other creative projects in the back of my head I can pivot to. I’m not saying I’m not going to sulk with devastation for a few days — weeks? — but I know a lot more about telling stories than I did when this process began.

As such, I can pretty easily use all that new knowledge to write something else. That’s the plan, at least.

Now, To Build Some Texture In My Novel’s Characters

by Shelt Garner

I have a small — but growing — library of books I’m supposed to be reading that I want to use to flesh out the characters in my novel. I’m trying to stabilize the first six chapters and finally reading all these books I’ve bought is a part of that.

One thing I really want to make sure I do is make my heroine as different from Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander as possible. While my heroine is greatly influenced by Salander, they’re very, very different in their backgrounds and goals in life.

And even if they were all that similar, my interpretation of the “Girl Who…” trope is so different from his and (and my writing just not as good as) that the two books are pretty much just in the same genre and that’s it.

Otherwise, they’re completely different.

The key issue is my heroine is meant to be far more accessible that Salander. My writing just isn’t as dark. Or, put another way: things may change pretty dramatically between the first and second draft — but for the time being, my novel is very much its own thing.

Anyway. I really need to do some reading.

Trying to stabilize six chapters.

Ugh. Now I’ll Never Be Accepted By Twitter Liberals

by Shelt Garner

So, here I am in all my glory. This is evidence of why people like Maggie Haberman, Ryan Lizza and various other MSM people think I’m an Internet kook, a crank. I don’t even think I’m all that bad in real terms, but if you want to date me or hire me and don’t know the context in which this interview took place, well, by that metric I will get neither laid or hired.

All I can say is in person I’m not nearly as acerbic as maybe I seem in this video. I was dealing with a well meaning troll and so in an effort to not fall into any of his troll traps, I made it clear I wasn’t going to put up with any shit. If that means I came off as an asshole, well, don’t know what to tell you.

In fact, the only reason why this interview even bothers me is I worry I won’t be able to get a literary agent because of it — and shit like it — I’ve produced online over the years. But who knows. Maybe not? Maybe if I produce a really good novel, my kookiness won’t matter that much?

‘Barry Jive:’ Just Because I Talk About My Novel All The Time, Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Any Good

by Shelt Garner

I’ve been working on this novel for some time now. And I have a hunch that I may have finally — finally — stumbled across the way I’m going to tell this story.

One thing I’ve noticed, however, is people poo-poo the idea of this novel sometimes because I’ve been talking about it so much during the developmental process. But that’s just my personality. I’m too much of an extrovert not to talk about a huge project like a novel that is rattling around in my mind.

I think I may be about to stabilize this novel up to six chapters. Maybe. Things are still bound to collapse on me at some point, but at least it doesn’t happen as often as it used to. It still happens, just not as often. Some of what’s going on is I’ve simply worn myself down to such an extent that I’m finally — finally — willing to not re-write (or move everything around) simply because something doesn’t fit my specific and completely arbitrary demands I’ve force on the makeup of the novel.

But anyway.

All I want to is finish a novel at this point. After that, we’ll see what happens.