by Louis Bertrand Shalako
All Rights Reserved
In the process of reconfiguring my brain-bucket for high performance, certain challenges arose. One of these is multitasking. It seems odd that a person could plot out a novel in literally one-minute increments. This involves a process of applied daydreaming, or 'visualization.'
This builds up a store of imagery in the appropriate database inside of your head or mine.
Just now, I visualized a hero-type entering a building where the Great Mojo lives, and the influences are both obvious and irrelevant--Bruce Willis as John Maclean, (hopefully I spelled that right,) running in bare feet across broken glass...as well as Dr. Peter Watts. I forget the title, but the climax happens in a big, forbidding edifice, the headquarters of some secretive organization.
It's also kind of irrelevant, although in parody, it's helpful to pick a half a dozen story-features and stick to them. Examples include 'Blazing Saddles,' and "The Producers,' by Mel Brooks. These are films, obviously--one wonders what the actual screenplay was to read. It is great acting and comic instinct that makes parody work, and not 'accuracy,' if you think in terms of 'Spaceballs.'
My little data store of images, characters and ideas is growing, and at some point we need to talk about structure. To some degree, I can decide upon an era, music, clothes, cars, names, colours, etc. Characterization is independent of plot.
But the structure of a novel is kind of like a template--things sort of plug in where they are needed, as much as anything. For me, the ending is crucial. Otherwise, and this may seem odd, I just don't know where to start.
Figure out where it ends, and then 'step back two hundred and fifty pages,' which is a trick in itself. For that reason, a thin sort of first draft is okay, right?
A professional writer like Robert J. Sawyer will describe a character's appearance right upon first arrival in the book.
Why can't I do that? Modeling for success is an old and well-known ploy.
And so we come to 'process.' Once you have all the tools, and all the materials, and learn the trade...it really is just an industrial process after a while.
There are times when my logic may seem a litte fuzzy. That's why I talk to myself, it helps me to talk my way through unfamiliar operations, and identify problem areas.
It's a kind of self-checking routine: because when I'm cussin' and swearing, it's time to rest and re-evaluate.
The one thing I should probably do is to take better notes.
They help you to remember.
Notes: Yes. I'm about to post some submissions, and once again I'm double-thinking myself. Where in the hell will I be living when they inevitably reject my manuscript submission?
Because I don't think it will be here. Theoretically, I can put in a card at the post office...if I sent an e-mail to a major publisher saying I had moved, that one will never get through...never.
Does that seem negative?
That seems kind of negative, doesn't it.