Wednesday, April 25, 2012

LET’S TALK TENSES


Just writing about this subject makes me tense!  Oops, bad joke.

All of my novels are written in the third person, as the omniscient observer.  One of my old drinking buddies, Edward Abbey, told me that a first person novel was almost impossible to get published. I’ll go so far to say he was right.  We were friends but usually on the opposite poles of philosophy.  I was a cattle rancher when we met and he was the guru of Earth First. Somehow we let those differences slide and he coached me on my first novel, OIL SPILL.

Since those early days I’ve been fortunate to hang with some authors and screenwriters of note; Werner Egli, Dutch Salmon, Ed Peterson, John Nichols, and Michael Blake.  I lifted ideas from all of them.  I’ve experimented with first and third person – ALASKA BE DAMNED & BOOMER. I have a character on stage; speaking in the first person in REVOLUTION OF FOOLS.  Should I choose to rewrite Crystal Cowboy, I would structure it like BOOMER; key characters being on stage in first person prior to a new chapter.  Those few people that read BOOMER have all given it five stars.

Screenplays are written in the present tense; like you’re writing an instruction manual for a smart phone.

EXAMPLE; Curtis lays his hat on the table and balls his fist.

That same sentence in 3rd person would read; Curtis laid his hat on the table and balled his fist.

I’m converting all six of my screenplays into novels; it’s double difficult.  Even though the story is already outlined; conversion is a tough job.  I take my hat off to Larry McMurtry.  He wrote LONESOME DOVE originally as a screenplay.  It didn’t sell for a number of years so he rewrote it into a novel and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

I’m twenty-five thousand words into a novel that represents page sixty of a one hundred-twenty page screenplay.  One would assume I’ll have a fifty thousand word novel when I finish, right?  Nope, to make this novel proper, I’m taking two screenplays and laying them together.  They’re both prequels to PARTNERS, the book I took on tour with Michael Blake.  My intentions are to write the four Curtis & RC screenplays into a trilogy of decent sized novels.  In between I’m writing the third in the Jimmy Hart series.  MURDER IN PANAMA has been published, REVOLUTION OF FOOLS is at the editor and HART RULES is fully outlined.  I’m currently in the research stage.  BURN SCARS, the fourth in the series is just a broad brush outline.

Sliding between all these projects are the postings to my two blogs and the promotion of all my work. 

The other day a friend of mine asked me what I’ve been up to.  I told her via Google chat that I’d written five thousand words of my new novel in the last three days.  Her response was – SO WHAT?

That renders down to big deal or ho-hum.  Her response was like a kick in the head; I realized not everyone sees achievement in writing.  Since this blog is about writing and publishing, I assume I have an audience that appreciates the efforts involved to create a novel that sells for 99 cents to $2.99.

If not -- SO WHAT?

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