The Agony & The Ecstacy of Developing & Writing 4 Novels

by Shelt Garner

I have been way too vocal about working on what is now four novels. I need to just shut up and do the work. The more I talk about all of this, the more people roll their eyes and tell me to just “write a short story.”

Fuck that.

Hell yeah.

But while I’ve gotten a huge amount of work done over the last few years, it’s been more of a drift than any organized, disciplined thing. That’s why it’s been difficult for me to write short stories to shut the naysayers up. I would rather fail in an outrageous, spectacular fashion than write short stories that obviously would never get published.

What people really mean when they say “write a short story” is they’re tired of hearing about a novel that seems to be taking forever to finish. But, in all honesty, if they think that way, if they lack the ability to support my long-term dream of writing a novel they’re not my friend and I don’t want them in my life.

I’d rather be alone and a failure than have friends and have them think I’m a failure because I could not pass their “test” of getting a short story published. If that did happen, it’s not like I would shut up about the very thing they find so annoying — writing.

If they don’t like me talking about writing, then they don’t really like me and they can fuck off.

Anyway, I just had to get that off my chest.

Now, To Start Reading Movie Scripts

by Shelt Garner

Our time on this planet is brief. I’ve finally begun to reach the existential angst of someone who knows this is just about the time when my age group begins to fade into non-existence. We have a solid 20 years ahead of us if we’re lucky, but the process of demise has just about begun.

As such, I’m going to slow drift towards figuring out how to flesh out a second creative “track” of working on a screenplay or three. I have a lot of movie concepts rolling around in my mind, but it’s pretty obvious that the learning curve is far, far sharper than I thought when I finally swallowed my pride and bought Final Draft 12.

I was thinking it was going to be a WYSIWYG-type editor.

Boy, was I wrong. I have to figure out how to use it format my screenplays. It doesn’t hold one’s hand at all. Which is something of a shock. How something that doesn’t really make it easy for a novice to format a screenplay to become the industry standard is curious to me.

And yet, I still have four (four!) novels to develop and finish as quickly as possible. But I’m feeling pretty good about that “main” creative track. Things are going really well in real terms, it’s just a lot — a lot — slower than I would prefer.

But I’m going back to writing again pretty soon now, even though I haven’t filled all the holes in my outline for the first book.

Wish me luck.

I’ve Got Lightening In A Bottle With This Thriller Series

by Shelt Garner

I’m really struggling with the (new) first book in this four book thriller series I’m working on. But I definitely get the sense that there’s something there. I just have to be willing to put the work in to make this as great a yarn as I know it can be.

But it’s not going to be easy, just as it hasn’t been easy the last several years I’ve been working on writing a novel. I’ve redoubled my studying of Stieg Larsson’s stuff and I noticed something: he doesn’t cover every single solitary day in the chronology of events.

He focuses on one or two important days. I used to think that The Girl Who Played With Fire was the perfect textbook for me to use to write my own novel, and now I realize, on a structural basis, it’s not

It doesn’t really follow the structure I need. So,lulz.

But I do still study it a lot to get some sense of how to write A Novel, just maybe not My Novel.

Potential Fast & Furious Movies

by Shelt Garner

It seems as though each Furious movie grows more…furious. They’ve gone to space, what could happen next?

It’s my impression that a Fast & The Future cross over with Transformers is at least being thought about. But, why stop there? Why not have them time travel to save The Rock’s life? Maybe bring Dr. Who into things. They could set the entire movie inside the TARDIS.

They could fight dinosaurs.

How about a Fast & the Furious with clones? They all have to fight cloned versions of themselves.

I’m Quite Pleased With The Universe I’ve Created For This Thriller Series

by Shelt Garner

Things are going really well with the four novel series I’m working on because all four books are compelling stories. But a lot — and I mean A LOT — could go wrong at any moment.

But you have to just put your head down and get to work at some point. You can freeze forever because of what MIGHT happen. Worry about what is actually know, what is not known.

I will admit that some of the aspects of this huge universe makes me nervous. And, yet, even the parts that make me nervous can be used in an interesting, compelling manner. I feel a little bit like what I imagine Freddy Mercury did when he was putting Bohemian Rhapsody together and everyone thought he was nuts.

I know in my mind what the vision is and how it will ultimately look like, but if you look at it right now as an outsider you might scratch your head and say, “But why start the series THEN?”

It makes sense in the context of the over all story. I feel compelled to tell the two stories set in the past because they’re compelling and they explain, with great detail, how this otherwise surreal little community came to be.

The biggest problem I have is forcing myself not to be so cruel to myself. I have a huge amount of self-imposed pressure on me right now — I need to knock out these four books ASAP, then turn around and do it all over again so I can let beta readers look at things.

This is a huge, huge project — which is exact what I wanted when I started all of this.

So, I’m Moving Towards A Second Creative Track: Screenwriting

by Shelt Garner

I’m not getting any younger. And I do have a shit tone of screenplay concepts rolling around in my mind. So, I’m going to begin to move towards getting to the point where I have something of a second creative track of screenwriting.

There are so many downsides to this that I’m well aware of — I’m going to be drawing energy away from the novel series. It’s kind of dumb to even start given my age and where I live. And, yet, my own mortality is definitely staring me straight in the face.

I like the idea of having something I can divert my creative energy to on a lark as need be. I’ve been working on these novels — and made such progress as a storyteller — that I like the idea of doing something creative for the sake of being creative.

I’m also, by nature, rather delusional. To the point that I daydream of finishing off a few screenplays and flying to LA for a few days just to see if my natural extroverted personality might get me within pitching distance of a Hollywood bigwig of some sort.

I know, I KNOW this is very, very delusional.

But it’s a fun distraction while I keep slugging away at these novels. Yet, I know that in showbiz it’s often — almost always — who you know, not what you know. But you need a script. So, I’ve kind of vowed to myself that if I’m still interested in this second creative track of screenwriting at the end of the month that I’m going to take a huge breath and get serious about buying Final Draft.

I’m 20 years too old to start this process. But I am creative and have a lot of really interesting movie concepts that, lulz, why not?

Mulling My Personal Delusions About My Potential Success In LA Should I Move There

by Shelt Garner

I daydream a lot. A whole lot. And one of the things I daydream a lot about besides all the stories about robots, zombie robots and space aliens is how successful I would be if I moved to LA.

One the surface, there is a credible case that I could do really well in LA. I’m a natural extrovert and I tend to become larger than life when liquored up. Being around a crowd of people like one might find at a cocktail party is like emotional meth for me — I’m an extreme social butterfly. At least, I was when I was in Seoul many moons a go. I’m older now, so who knows. (But I’m young at heart, wink.)

As such, if I could somehow overcome the basics — I don’t live in LA, I’m broke and I have no showbiz contacts in town — if I was somehow able to weasel my way into a LA cocktail party everyone would know who I was by the time I left. And, usually, in such situations when I’m drunk and surrounded by a lot of interesting people, I can grow so colorful and larger-than-life that I draw a lot of attention to myself.

So, in my deranged, hyper-deluded mind, I could see a situation where some Hollywood bigwig would notice me at a cocktail party and want to know, “Who is that guy?”

Those few times I’ve been to New York City, it definitely seemed like a city where the metric is NOT who you know, but what you know. In LA, meanwhile, you just never know if some broke-ass writer might be on the cusp of writing a breakout screenplay. (Though the old adage about, “Don’t fuck the writer” is very, very true.)

Of course, there is the huge issue of my age. If I was 20 years younger, then all my LA dreams would be a lot more likely to come true. But, now, oh boy. The only way I would have any chance of success is if I moved to LA full time and had three or four solid screenplays already written and ready to go.

Right now, I got squat.

Anyway. Dreaming is free.

The Agony & The Ecstasy Of Wanting Final Draft

by Shelt Garner

I want to buy the screenwriting program Final Draft, but there are two things holding me back. One, I’m broke as hell and it’s extremely expensive. Two, if I’m going to spend that much money on it, I’d like to actually use it right away.

So, as such, I know that actually buying Final Draft would be the end of the beginning of any effort to actually write screenplay. I must have at least a dozen solid screenplay concepts rolling around my head at the moment. And, yet, I’m throwing all my creativity at the four novel series I’m working on and I just don’t feel like distracting myself.

And it’s not like I live in LA — any screenplays I write would have to be done knowing full well that they are meant to be pure creativity (at least at first.) I would much rather use all my creative time and energy working on the series I’ve been working on for years now, rather than risk getting distracted and having to start at blow zero working on screenplays.

But, having said all that, occasionally I do grow restless. Sometimes, I feel like just picking a completely different creative direction for the sheer joy of it and see what happens. For the last few years, however, this lasts for a few minutes and then I put my head down and keep working on the novel(s.)

I guess it’s possible that I might sketch out some screenplays in the near future. But I’m going to be on the cusp of actually writing a screenplay if I buy Final Draft. I need to start reading screenplays if I’m going to get anywhere near that stage, however.

I Have To Stop Overthinking This Series

by Shelt Garner

So, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m working on four novels in a series simultaneously. Things are going really, really well. But I still have the same old problem of overthinking things so much that I throw everything out what feels like every few days.

Some of my problems come from I have a few scenes I love so much I’m willing to fight for, which adds significant complications to the overall project. But none of the problems I’m having compare to the three year struggle to get some favorite set pieces to make sense in what is now the third book in a four book series.

Now, THAT was a sharp learning curve.

But I’m ok now. I just need to do a lot — A LOT — of reading and to figure out how to stop being so hard on myself. I understand why people might hate on me if they’re paying attention — I mean, I haven’t even finished one novel and now I’m working on four.

And, yet, what happened was, once I kind of figured out the novel I was working on for so long, I realized I needed a break. I was creatively exhausted. So what I’m doing now allows me to recharge my batteries while staying in-universe.

Anyway, I really need to speed up.

We Live In A Cultural Vacuum

by Shelt Garner

The interesting thing about the modern era is, well, we’re not in an era. I guess the argument could be made that we’re in either the post-Trump Era or the pre-autocracy era or even modern Antebellum era. But, really, when it comes to culture none of those are true.

We’re not in just a cultural wasteland, we’re in a cultural vacuum.

The current era began, I would posit, with the introduction of the first iPhone. In a broader sense, I guess, we’re still in the post-9/11 Era. I thought Rona would do something to jiggle our culture, but that really hasn’t happened.

If I want to make myself feel better, I would get all excited and say we’re one unexpected hit in music, movies or TV for some sort of major shift in our culture perceptions to occur. That’s usually how such eras begin. Some young outlier produces a song, or an album or whatever that is so unexpectedly popular that it shakes everything up.

I guess, in a sense, I am looking forward to a new Nevermind or Pulp Fiction to pop out to really rattle hyper modern pop culture. In a sense, maybe, you might say that Tik-Tok is a precursor to what I’m talking looking forward to. Tik-Tok is making new era stars in a currently unnamed era.

Tragically, of course, the Something Big that changes everything might be some huge news event that is the Day The Earth Stood Still, like 9/11. We’re just about due for something like that to happen.

But I can’t predict the future. I have no idea that is going to happen.