Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Did you ever see a girl throw a baseball?

Writing styles are just as distinctive. They reflect the life of the writer; also their gender. That’s right. There are four distinctive styles I can determine by reading only three pages of a novel. Sometimes I can tell by just by looking at the cover. A great number of female writers disguise their gender by using only initials. JZ Knight is a good example. She is a very successful mystery writer from the Southwest and Seattle. But if a male reader didn’t know she was a girl, it would become obvious with a chapter or two. JA Konrath. Once you start one of his books, it’s obvious he’s a guy right away.

Guys seldom write about bedspreads, curtains, décor, and dust ruffles unless it’s germane to the story. Women writers normally do. (Shirley McClain in “Out on a Limb – gag me with a spoon!) Conversely, men will write a lot more details about tools, guns or car engines. For example; “…was driving a customized old pick-up with a 327 ci Chevy small block bored .40 over, balanced and blueprinted. Most women writers wouldn’t write that kind of description. They are hard pressed to check their oil!

Okay, that’s the first two styles…simple – guys and gals.

The other two take a while to spot. The done that myself, been there, and have the t-shirt. Then you have the research & fake-it with well turned phrases, style. The writers who research everything and seldom leave his/her word processor. I fall into the first category. I write from experience. Many best sellers are written by people who are excellent writers (can really turn a phrase) but know nothing firsthand about their subject matter. I read part of a best seller (#1 for 10 weeks on the NY Times list) a few years ago that was written by a professor from a university in New England. “……character X was suddenly afraid as the silence of the jungle night enveloped him like a cobweb.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Silence of a jungle night? Jungles aren’t quiet in the night! Screeching monkys, bats, owls, various chirping crickets that will drive you nuts, lizards, night birds, and much more. The closest this guy ever got to a jungle was a Tarzan movie! I pitched the book out the porthole of my boat. What a crock!

I was questioned by a reader one time about the scene in PARTNERS where the two cowboys take a bull that is caught in a tree trunk and sew his eyes closed. The reader thought that was farfetched. In reality, years earlier, my ranching neighbor and I were contracted by the Park Service to remove feral cattle from their mountain park near Tucson. We spent over a week in those badlands, trapping the cows and bulls by building a brush corral around a spring and placing a salt block nearby. We finally captured twenty head. We roped them – head and heels and sewed their eyelids closed. They could eat, drink and shit…the things cattle do. We eventually led them off the mountain only to be met by a firestorm of animal activists. To this day I take pot shots at those ignorant imbeciles.

That was the real life drama that produced the scene in PARTNERS

I fished commercially in Alaska – ALASKA BE DAMNED

I lived on Guam and went through typhoon Karen – THE LAST FRUIT STAND ON GUAM

I lived and worked in Mexico. – EXPAT

I’ve participated and have been associated with Rodeo for many years. -- CRYSTAL COWBOY

I’ve owned several ranches and made a decent living breaking and training horses. SCREENPLAY’S -- NO WAY!, UP NORTH, PARTNERS, and TRUST ME.

I lived in southern Arizona for some time so period western, BOOMER and the novel I currently writing, HALF-BREED are authentic as to locale.

I’ve lived in Panama for a long time. First in the Canal Zone with my folks and now as a retiree/writer. – SCREENPLAY’S, GAVIOTO’S GOLD & EMPTY KAYAK.

I guess the point of this exposition is to enlighten. My books and screenplays reflect my past. My style is to write tight and be a story teller. If it’s in the book it either happened to me, a close friend or I witnessesd it happening. Except for the romance – that’s all bullshit!

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