Month: November 2010

I thought you should know. 😀

I like the way the title of this post rolls off the tongue.  Reminds me of Hot Tub Time Machine for some reason (an entertaining flick if you’ve not had the pleasure).

The link between writing and music has been a subject of endless fascination for me. The first novel I ever attempted–set in the Spain, if you must know–was written almost exclusively to the sounds of Dave Matthew’s first album.

In Iraq, my I-Pod was never far from reach, and it became my cheer-leading section as I churned out pages. Dragonfly, my favorite short story to date (at least in recent memory) was written as I listened to Switchfoot’s On Fire over and over again.

NaNo appears to be no exception.  As I work myself through the first several chapters of Daisy, I’ve decided on a theme song for Kodi, our dear hero, who finds himself in so much trouble and must dig himself out.

The lyrics aren’t necessarily literal when compared to the story, but I think the flavor of a chance lost–as captured so perfectly in this tune–is a feeling I don’t want to lose as I write.  It may even be possible that Kodi saves things in the end–but I’ve found that opportunity’s favorite brother is regret, so I push the play button over and over again.

Have a listen to Kodi’s theme song: Keith’s Urban’s Stupid Boy.  Oh, by the way, what’s the main character of your WIP’s theme song? 

Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning:  I wanted to know what I was going to say. 

~Sharon O’Brien

Sarah over at The Wit and Wisdom of Another Sarah (you should go check out her place if you haven’t already!) had a great post last week about Alfred Hitchcock–and his various projects and cameos.

We as writers are no strangers to the advice: “Do something different!”  We hear it everywhere from writing how-to books to forums to blog posts to writing conferences.  Originality is a pretty key element of good fiction, and arguably–although in film rather than fiction–Hitchcock was the master at finding original approaches to familiar story elements.

Here are a few examples:

**In Psycho, he kills off the main character halfway through the film, something never done before.  The genius is, of course, that this is the last thing the audience suspects, so the rest of the film feels untethered and eerie–the very effect Hitchcock was no doubt going for.

**North By Northwest upped the stakes when Hitchcock turns what could have been a run-of-the-mill chase scene into something truly memorable by substituting a biplane for a car.  Those scenes where Cary Grant runs across the flat Illinois scree being buzzed by a crazed pilot in a Stearman biplane are downright iconic–and tremendously dramatic too.  The chase scene across Mount Rushmore at the end of the movie is equally memorable.  Reinventing the usual movie chase scene by changing one element to something unexpected, he raised the tension and drama to the next level.

**Lastly, The Birds set the standard for transmogrifying an ordinary element in the everyday world into a truly terrifying phenomenon–long before Stephen King and his ilk picked up that baton.  Who’da thunk it, that someone could take the most ordinary everyday creature and turn them into a terrifying plague?  Hitchcock, that’s who.

Yeah, Hitchcock had the mojo when it came to flipping assumptions on their heads, and there’s a lesson for us all.  The next time you’re working on a scene and it feels unoriginal or flat–a problem that comes up often as I plug away at my NaNo project–ask yourself: “What Would Alfred Hitchcock Do?”  You may be surprised with the results.

What about you?  Do you have any similar tools that help you keep your fiction fresh and interesting?

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.

~Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977