1 (edited by rhiannon 2017-03-09 20:19:25)

Topic: WIP: JOHN HAMLER'S ANTAGONY

THIS IS TO TALK ABOUT JOHN'S WORKS, ESP. 'ANTAGONY.'  I'LL START IT OFF BY RESPONDING TO HIS RESPONSE ON MY LATEST RESPONSE:


"--Watership Down, Catch-22, Clockers, Cat's Cradle, Tropic of Cancer, Gravity's Rainbow, Lord of The Rings"--an impressive list of influences.  And I can see that in your background.  You can add Harper Lee to that.  I'm reading "To Set a Watchman," which aside from the conceit of a young woman going back to Sweet Home, Alabama, after being immersed in liberal New York City, only to be shocked at the attitudes there,* including that of her father, really doesn't have a plot.  If you're from the South, you are instantly immersed. If you're from NYC, you go--oh, is that what's really going on?

But even Catch-22 had a plot.  Maybe a thin one just to organize the vignettes, as you call them, but a plot.

*And even that didn't make much sense, as she takes two weeks to go home every year, and she just starts noticing these things when she's twenty-six?  But like you, John, she's a brilliant writer, so we let it all slide.

Re: WIP: JOHN HAMLER'S ANTAGONY

Well, don't let me slide too far. Like I said: I'm probably just trying to make excuses for myself. Trust me, I've been hearing the same "where's the plot/beef?" complaint for years, equivocating for years. My process is pretty willy-nilly. I don't outline, I simply write the next line. Although, like Catch-22, I'm sure there must be a plot lurking in ANTAGONY somewhere. Thin as air, but it's there. smile Just gotta find it, wrangle it, tie it up or down.

Re: WIP: JOHN HAMLER'S ANTAGONY

Wait. John HAMMER?

Re: WIP: JOHN HAMLER'S ANTAGONY

Oops.  Got your name wrong.  Probably thinking of you and Mike Hammer going through the matter transmitter and getting their DNA fused.  Consider it a compliment.  lol

Re: WIP: JOHN HAMLER'S ANTAGONY

John:  Nothing wrong with stringing out comedy skits.  Woody Allen did that in Sleeper and in Bananas, although there were plots there.  Some of the scenes--like him being psycho-probed to think he was Miss America--had absolutely nothing to do with anything.  I'm glad I'm making you think deeper about your material, or go more deeply into it.  Oh, and something you said--that Bambini's ascension is sort of like Donald Trump's?  There's your plot.

Re: WIP: JOHN HAMLER'S ANTAGONY

Well, it's not really like Trump. I was just grasping at straws to slurp from under the intense heat of your criticism. smile Of course, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Which again reminds me of Trump and his attack on the media. You can't escape the sheer gravitational force of the man! Which reminds me of Bambini and look... Here I am talking in circles!

7 (edited by rhiannon 2017-02-28 17:15:21)

Re: WIP: JOHN HAMLER'S ANTAGONY

Well, you obviously have a strong view of Bambini's character--and he doesn't have to be Trump, but your opinion of Trump shows the outline of a plot.  A man from (relatively) modest origins, vulgar as hell, becomes the most powerful man in the country (as, in Bambini's case, a crime lord).  From there, you can decide to be traditional--and his pride goeth before a fall ("Is this the end of --Rico?"), or risk losing all your readers, and have him triumph.  (That can be avoided by a morality twist.  I read a story where The Mob and the Syndicate ran the country, giving everybody what they wanted.  Everything went fine, until the old, evil US Government came back...)  So you could make him into that kind of gangster.  So Rick won't have to come up at the end of the story and shoot him with his Colt Python.

Re: WIP: JOHN HAMLER'S ANTAGONY

You wrote: "How to Write Good. Love it. Wish I knew the answer. Right now I'm trying to shorten the chapters  on TNBW because I can't seem to shorten the dialogue. These characters talk and talk and... Well, that's how I go about characterization, I guess. As opposed to description or emotion. That's just me. Also, I've decided to write a book-length prologue. Something I've been threatening to do for years. I hafta hope that prose is entertaining enough to hook a reader because you know how shitty I am at plot. I'm literally (literally?) poring over every syllable. I stink, therefore I am."

First, you don't stink.  You write very engaging prose.  Second, Michael O'Donohue, of The National Lampoon, gave me the title, "How to Write Good."  One of his suggestions was:  if you don't know how to end it, have all the characters run over by a truck.  If they drive trucks, have them run over by a really big truck."  When the Lampoon wrote their spoilers, there was one movie where that actually happened, and they had to write, "No Joke."  The woman who wrote the popular Animorphs series had all the characters be in a spaceship that blew up, and Gene Roddenberry toyed with the idea that should be the end of Star Trek:  TOS.  I often wondered how he would have accomplished bringing them back.  Heinlein, in "The Rolling Stones," had the family support their space caravan by writing bad series.  They killed off their main character, then, when they brought it back, they had him just about to explain how he got out of his dilemma, then there was a Red Alert.  I figured, that would be how.  Let you characters talk and talk, just add the body language, some background.  I mean, "Waiting for Godot" was just two characters talking.  I think you should just forget about plot until you get about 120,000 words.  Then, look for some underlying principle and shape accordingly.  Then, have all your characters run over by a truck.  Cheers.

Re: WIP: JOHN HAMLER'S ANTAGONY

That's the point, John.  You don't realize that it's in the afterlife soon enough, although the title of the chapter, "Dead Men Talking," is a clue.  Not enough of one, as they could be death row inmates, captives of Somali pirates, or people unfortunate enough to listen to Alexandria Cortez's interviews.  You need the setting established first.  And you do great descriptives later on, so you just need to move them up, suitably modified.

(And I thought I'd use this occasion to bring this dead forum back to lie.  So respond to me, so I can get up, move my body back and forth while on a pole and yell, "It's Alive!  Alive!")

Re: WIP: JOHN HAMLER'S ANTAGONY

You, think too much, John?  Probably.  You do seem to let over-thinking get in your way.  My advice?  Just do it.  There's a place for thinking.  You are looking down a cliff. Can I survive a fifty-foot jump?  Even then, when there's a hoard of very angry cannibals heading toward you armed to the teeth, you might not want to over-think.  Can I talk my way out of this?  Is it really true that in water, even .44 magnum cartridges slow enough that they might not penetrate my skin? You may just want to jump.

And it doesn't matter if it's Malloy or Bambini who is karmically discharged.  Malloy may be the narrator, Bambini may be the m/c.  You like writing about Bambini, he always appears, even if a minor character.  You've established him as totally evil--the scene with the dog is one that makes me want to kidnap you and do a ritual purification to save your soul.  So maybe have him, because of some incestuous fetish with his mother, do something good.  (He finds out he has a sister, saves her, and dies horribly because of it, or maybe he saves the world from nuclear destruction because he can't have fun if the world comes to an end.  That wouldn't be good, though, as to make it an actual plot, you have to have the seeds of his final, good, deed, sewn in the very beginning.  Maybe the world is about to be eaten by a cosmic dog and the Government is full of dog lovers, so Bambini has to man up and well, you know... You can write the scene and tack it on the end after you're done with all the character portraiture and outre metaphors.)  You have him sitting next to Malloy on a cloud at the end.  Malloy asks him WTF happened?  And he says:  Fuhgeddaboutit.  (Jeez, there's a conventional spelling of that word--my Grammarly just told me to fix it.)

Re: WIP: JOHN HAMLER'S ANTAGONY

Hey, I just saw this. After I responded to a bunch of your responses to my last correspondence about the last chapter of yours I reviewed, that is. I don't know how we can notify each other of such a thing. Maybe we just come here and say: HEY! ???

Anyway... RUN OVER BY A TRUCK was actually gonna be the title of my "soon to be ignored" Elizabethan poetry collection, so... Thanks alot for kicking my dog, Rhia!  smile

Cheers
John