A Heads Up To Hollywood — You Never Can Tell…..

by Shelt Garner

I’m working on the assumption that Trump is going to “win” the 2020 Election. The novel I’m working on right now is set in the “before times,” before the pandemic, but it’s meant to be (in a sense) an allegorical thriller about the Trump Era.

As such, while I’m sure plenty, PLENTY of other people are doing exactly the same type of thing I’m doing — there’s a decent chance that when I try to query my novel(s) I’m going to hit the zeitgeist just right because a lot of liberal (readers) are going to be fucking FURIOUS that Trump is consolidating power and turning us into nothing more than an American interpretation of Putin’s Russia.

Yeah, I’m being cocky. And maybe rather delusional.

But given the absolute certainty that Trump is going to lie, cheat and steal to win the 2020 Election, when I finally wrap up this novel early 2021, it’s at least possible it might strike the zeitgeist in just the right way to be a huge success.

Or not.

We may just have a civil war and so, lulz.

The Struggle Is Real: Writing Female Characters As An Aspiring Male Novelist

by Shelt Garner

There’s an old joke from the Usenet days which is relevant to the modern social media world. “Go thee not to Usenet for answers, for you will only get ‘yes,’ ‘no’ and ‘Try another newsgroup’ as your answers.”

So, often time, one can say something pretty innocuous (at least for you) and the next thing you know it goes DL viral and everyone is coming at you from different directions, telling you how much you suck.

I tweeted something under yet another video by a woman complaining about how piss-poor men’s descriptions of women in novels are about how I, for one, was at least TRYING not to fall into that trap. Everyone went bonkers, coming at me from every possibly direction.

It’s all very annoying.

Not only does it remind you of the old adage, “Never tweet,” it also makes you grit your teeth and think, “This is how we got Trump.” If you’re so blinded by identity politics that you think it is absolutely impossible for a man to be empathetic enough to write female characters that aren’t just poorly written bimbos, then you need to re-evaluate your priorities.

The last time I checked, women are, like, humans and it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch that imagine that a man — also being a human — could, with some thought, write female characters that are good enough that you don’t want to throw the book across the room in frustration.

Anyway. I just needed to get that out of my system. I couldn’t do anything more with the thread on Twitter because I would only stir up more trouble.

#Novel First Draft Deadline: Election Day

by Shelt Garner

Things are going reasonably well with the first draft of the novel right now. My goal is to finish a first draft by Election Day. This is so encase all hell breaks loose, at least I’ll have a finished first draft under my belt.

I really need to map out, in real terms, how may chapters I’m going to finish each week. If I don’t do that, I could simply continue my current practice of moving in a general direction without any hard set metrics to gauge my progress on.

But I definitely am moving forward now. Because of the way I’m developing and writing, I honestly don’t know my word count right now. In a way, however, that’s rather liberating. This is just a first draft and the point is to get something, anything, down so I can turn around and rewrite the whole thing with a far clearer eye as to what the story’s strengths and weaknesses are.

I continue to have a linger uneasy as to what the world will look like when I try to query it. My fear is that I’m writing something that, in hindsight, will be like writing a mystery thriller set in late 1930s America. By 1942, of course, it will be seen as rather quaint.

I think that’s more about a general sense of uneasy about the nation’s future, however. It’s far more likely that Trump is going to “win” and continue to consolidate power in fits and starts. That should give me something of a window of opportunity to finish this first book in the series and try to sell it.

At least, that’s the dream right now.

One issue that I continue to struggle with is the actual investigation show in teh story. I’m not exactly the world’s greatest investigative journalist and so it’s a real struggle to think about how my characters might do such a thing. But I’ve made great strides in just the last few days, so there’s hope I can figure something, anything out on that front.

If anything, I now know I need to leave a lot more clues in the first act so I can draw upon them in the first part of the second act.

You can’t edit a blank page, as they say.

Things Are Moving Really Fast With The #Novel

by Shelt Garner

After about two years of development, things are finally being to lurch forward dramatically with the actual writing of a serious first draft. In large part, this is due to how well I know the general plot of the story as well as a crucial suggestion by a “script consultant” who I paid to help me out a few months ago.

I really hope to have a finished first draft no later than Thanksgiving and hopefully by Election Day. I would prefer it be Election Day because I’m notorious for being completely immobilized when major clusterfucks happen in the Trump Era.

One of the interesting things about writing an allegorical thriller about the Trump Era is I just don’t know what the world will look like when I try to query it. Biden being president would put a significantly different spin on its context than Trump still being president. But I keep thinking about how Apocalypse Now was produced AFTER the Vietnam War was over, so it makes sense that people might want to read something like my novel to help them make sense of what just happened.

But only time will tell.

I really, really need to keep writing as fast as I can. This novel has no literary aspirations. It’s just meant to be a fun read that in hindsight you might realize has some deeper meaning to it.

Mulling Two Prequels

by Shelt Garner

I am nervous that I’m going to put all my creative eggs in one basket with these two novels I’m working on, so of course I decide that I want to write two prequels. I am still very interested in writing a screenplay, but the universe I’ve come up with for this novel is so expansive that two prequels would work very well.

The reason why I want to write two prequels is I have really thought out two major events that took place before the beginning of the story I’m currently working on. I love these characters so much that I’m willing to write two prequels to explain exactly how they got where they are when things open in the two novels I’m working on right now.

As it grows more and more certain that Trump is going to “not lose” the 2020 election, the universe I’ve come up with grows more and more appealing. I think a lot of very angry people are going to be interested in the conceit of this universe.

Anyway, I’m still on track to wrap up a first draft of the first book of this two book story by around Election Day. I’m nervous that I’m going to be so upset by Trump “not losing” the election that I’ll be zonked out for three months like I was in 2016.

I just hope I have a window of opportunity with artistic expression before the boom falls and even a novel such as mine won’t be able to get published — or even considered — because it goes against Der Fuhrer.

Just About To Enter The Second Act of The First Draft of The Novel

by Shelt Garner

I’m going to take a break from “doom scrolling” on Twitter to give as much attention as possible to the novel. This is the most stable the novel has been to date.

The only issue right now is I have a huge hole in the outline that I have to flesh out. But given how strong what I’ve written is so far, I hopeful that won’t be too much of a problem. I should be able to fill out the outline well before the end of the month.

I have given myself a pretty tight deadline to wrap up the first draft, for no other reason than this fall is going to be a massive clusterfuck and I’m apt to be rather distracted.

One issue I simply don’t know is the actual chronology of events after I finish the first draft. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to finish the second draft and then turn around and write the third draft (after some beta readers give me input) so I can turn around and query that to an agent.

There’s just a lot I don’t know. But that’s kind of the fun of all of this in the first place, the “learning by doing” aspect of it all. What’s more, this whole project is meant to be a two book, one story type of deal so soon I’m going to be starting up on developing the second book.

An Update On The #Novel

by Shelt Garner

Things are going well with the novel. I’m just about to reach the point of the novel where there’s a huge hole in the outline, so things are going to slow down a little bit.

But my deadline is wrap up the first draft is still Election Day, so I’m going to think of something. I’m quite pleased with how smooth things are going as of right this moment. Things are really beginning to fall into place in a way I’m comfortable with.

I’ve figured out my own style of development and what I want to say. As such, things are moving at a pleasant clip.

Since I ABSOLUTELY believe Trump is going brazenly steal the 2020 Election, the themes of the novel should be quite popular should I ever manage to sell it. I do have a little bit of unease that fascist House Trump may crack down on free speech so much just about when I’m trying to sell the book that it won’t happen, even if I do a really good job otherwise.

But I believe in my heart that there is a little bit of a window of opportunity for this novel. There might be just enough time before the final boom falls on the First Amendment that I might find a modicum of success.

I have to think of something to keep me going.

Listening To The ‘Scriptnotes’ Podcast Is Depressing

by Shelt Garner

Since my recent creative existential crisis when I realized I needed a “Plan B,” I have decided to expose myself to screenwriting culture. The idea is, this process ends with me buying FinalDraft and actually writing a screenplay.

As part of this, I have started listening to the Scriptnotes podcast. It’s very educational, but also very, very depressing. I’m a middle-aged man who lives in the middle of nowhere. It definitely seems as though screenwriting is completely different than novel writing.

With novels, it is at least within the realm of possibility that one might write the ever-elusive “breakout hit” novel out of the blue. As far as I know, it’s almost unheard of for someone to write a “breakout hit”screenplay. So, to listen two professional screenwriters talk about their careers is pretty depressing to me.

But I definitely need a “Plan B.” I like the idea of bouncing back and forth between a novel and a screenplay.

And, as I’ve mentioned before, I have something of a “secret weapon:” my personality. I love to schmooze and I know myself well enough to know that if I “somehow” found myself at a Hollywood party that I would talk to everyone and be so conspicuous and interesting that everyone would want to know who I am.

The idea of writing a screenplay and then traveling to LA to see if I can weasel myself into a showbiz party is quite appealing on an existential level. Imagining having a conversation with some showbiz big wig at a party who is curious as to who I am and how I ended up talking to them.

Yet, I am well aware that all that is extremely delusional. But one man’s delusion is another man’s dream.

It would make for a great story, if nothing else.

The Issue Of A Prologue

by Shelt Garner

I continue to read a lot about the mechanics of novel writing and there doesn’t seem to be any consensus as to having a prologue. Pretty much, the closest I can find is the idea that you can write one, but be prepared for a sizable chunk of the audience to ignore it.

The only reason why I feel I may need one is the issue of tone. The thing I’ve noticed about Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played With Fire is he has a dark, gritty prologue in that book and that frees him up to be rather matter-of-fact about the rest of the story. That prologue gives him some leeway because it establishes the intended mood of the novel.

I’m just about to reach the portion of my first draft outline where I have a big empty hole, so that would be a great time to sort of reflect and maybe write a prologue that I may, or may not, actually use. I do have a very specific reason for having a prologue, enough of one to warrant at least writing one.

I continue to vacillate on this issue, however.

The Quiet Before The Storm: Daydreaming About Hollywood On A Dull August Evening

by Shelt Garner

Usually, August is good for one good astonishing surprise. But, so far, things have been exceedingly meh. It’s normally just about now when breaking news event forces all the Beautiful People drinking pina coladas on the a Seychelles beach have to rush home because everything has changed.

If you’re an astute media consumer, you will notice that the Beautiful People let interns take over the office and we end up with some very earnest, very dumb articles that leave you asking, “How did THAT get published?”

Now, I’d prefer if some Big Event happens in August that no one gets hurt and it’s “fun interesting.” But, as of right now, it seems as though August is simply going to be the quiet before the storm of the fall when we’re going to have the double wamny of a the flu season smashing into the COVID19 pandemic and a pitched battle to see who POTUS is going to be.

For my part, I find myself thinking about starting work on the development of a screenplay. I’m already cruising along with a novel and this weekend I had something of an existential moment when I realized I do not have a Plan B. As such, I think I’m going to use a number of things I’ve learned from developing this novel to begin working on a screenplay. I’m going to use Star Wars as my “textbook.”

Now, I know I’m being delusional. I’m too old, for starters. I’m far my likely to sell a first novel given my specific circumstances than I am a screenplay. But something about having the adventure of developing and writing a screenplay (or two) then traveling all the way to LA to see if I can accidentally-on-purpose run into a producer or some other Hollywood type is very enticing.

In fact, my personality is probably the only thing I have going for me on that front at this point. I’ve got solid talent, but, as I mentioned, I’m kind of old to get into the screenwriting business. But, again, I know that if I have a screenplay finished that I have the wherewithal to fly to LA (on the other side of the country) and hit the pavement. The idea of “somehow” being invited to a Hollywood party while I’m in town and “somehow” catching the attention of someone of note at the party is just the long-term project that appeals to me on a very basic level.

I know myself well enough to know that if I “somehow” was to find myself in a Hollywood party that all I would have to do is get liquored up and before you know it, I’d be Quentin Tarantino in the movie “Sleep With Me” pontificating on a wide range of thought provoking ideas and ending up with a three picture deal before it was all over with. (This is an extreme romanticized dream on my part. Probably none of that would happen, but, lulz, this is a very dull August evening.)

So, as such, I’m going to try — try — to have a Plan B, C and D that I can turn to if and when disaster strikes and I simply can’t continue with the novel I’m working on. The novel itself is really, really good (at least relative to my abilities) but I’m growing nervous that I’ve put all my eggs in one basket and I need to have a few backups in case something out of my control happens.

Anyway. What else am I supposed to do as House Trump consolidates power and turns us into a fascist state?