Monday, March 19, 2012


Neo noir requires a number of things, a prose voice that snaps, crackles and pops and sex, drugs and violence. It simply doesn't work without sex, drugs and violence. Try to write noir without those elements and very quickly you find yourself in Bugsy Malone territory, which is real kiddie porn without the sex: it shows prepubescent kids behaving like adults, dressed like adults, and with adult motivations. When they get splattered with cream, you go, "oh, yeah, I know what THAT means..." So I had to just make my characters high school seniors. It helped to watch Twilight the other night. The girls joking about the size of their boyfriends' bananas set my heart at rest. Now I need a freaking ending. My highschool gumshoe Rick Swick has a wooden tanto, and I think he's going to go all buffy on Edward's ass. But there needs to be a couple of reversals before that happens. I hate plotting... Character development and rising action are fun and games. Endings are hard work.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Neo Noir Noodlings

My noggin is noodling for some neonoir nonsense. Reading James Ellroy's Crime Wave currently and hepcats, it is da bomb! Never have I experienced such piercing yet purple prose. It rocks, it rolls, it smokes, it cornholes, it's fabulous to the maxi, and it speaks to me fortissimo! Ooooh daddy-O, give it to me like fizz in the joint, like a flaccid acid skid, a methy-dexy knock out punch, and I do mean TKO, sweets.

I have in mind a high school neo noir, a melange of messy matriculators, devilish delinquents trying to score to the core. The maguffin: Mr. Frink's stolen test questions, and set in the scintillating seventies, so I can dispense with all that turgid technology like personal computers and cell phones. Kids have to hoof it in their platform shoes and bell bottoms if they don't have sweet rides provided by their permissive parents.

Friday, March 9, 2012


I'm so confused. My mind is spinning. I'm reading James Ellroy's Crime Wave right now. Crime Wave is a collection of shorter pieces, including the piece he wrote for GQ magazine which he later expanded into his memoir. It has my undivided focus and attention, like a laser beaming into my brain. This fluffy bullshit chick-lit style writing that includes every nuance of character reaction makes me want to puke (much the same reaction Rick Santorum has to JFK). Ellroy's is the kind of writing I want to emulate: powerful, muscular, spare--like a marathon runner, not like a big fat bacchus. Maybe that just means I have to write shorter pieces. Apparently novels these days require polixity.

Monday, March 5, 2012


No, not the car company. Instead something about writing.

An editor from Virginia called me last week and raked me over the proverbial coals for having a narrative voice too distant from my character's point of view. This is a common theme that I hear in criticism of my work. It implies that the reader has difficulty relating to the character, and that I should provide more sensory detail, more physical and mental reactions to the events that transpire in the story.

I well know that this is a big flaw in my writing. The Seattle agent that represents Dan Savage told me that my main character in "After the Fire" just didn't make her care enough about him. And that is after I've been working on fixing this problem for years. So obviously this kind of writing is not something that comes naturally to me. I see fiction like I see movies or video games; visually, with the camera over the shoulder. However, that's just not today's mode. The current mode is very close third-person point of view, the eyes of the character are the camera. It's a type of third person point of view that's almost, but not quite, as close as first person point of view.

One of the things the Virginia editor mentioned was something called "GMC" which she told me stood for "goals, motivation, crisis." So, I did a little research, and discovered a book called "Goals, Motivation and Conflict" by Debra Dixon. This seems to be exactly what the Virginia editor was talking about. I ordered the book. On Amazon, it's exorbitantly expensive for some reason, so order directly from the publisher.

I will post more after I receive it and digest its contents.