From the Desk Remix! – The October Country.

Yesterday was the last day of September. It has passed quickly. There is more darkness and the rains have returned.

The end of a month is like walking through a doorway. Your back is to where you have come from and there is quickly a barrier between you and it.

You are now in a new space. A new environment. Perhaps familiar but perhaps not.

I mention in the ‘Welcome!’ to this site, that the American writer Ray Bradbury made me into a writer. I read his novel Something Wicked This Way Comes easily more than a hundred times before I left school. The story takes place in October.

This October I am being ambitious.

I am taking on The Literal Challenge’s Scriptly Writing, which is a fortenight of daily writing prompts for a two page script.

I’ve never written a proper script before, but why would that stop me?

What attracted me to this challenge is the focus on characters and what they say. I’ve always found writing dialogue between characters easier than the descriptive connectors and narrated plots drivers.

I’ve also decided to do NaNoWriMo again, which means October is now officially Preptober!

Choose your project, announce it, perpare yourself and those around you for the 1667 words a day during November.

I’ve got my BHAGs lined up! (Big Hairy Audacious Goals, if you’re not familiar with Jerry Collins’ Good to Great.)

I am also going to be trialing a ten minute work flow.

I have always been spikey about being interrupted when I am in a creative flow. To avoid this I generally won’t start something creative if I don’t have a reasonable length of time to go at it.

I can’t being to calculate how much creative time I’ve lost with this attitude/habit.

So I am going to force myself to work in ten minute sprints. If someone wants to disturb me during a sprint then they will have to wait between 9 and 1 minute for my attention.

Hopefully, I can stitch together several sprints in one go but if not I have used a minimum of ten minutes usefully on a creative endeavour.

I will let you know how it goes!

What are your plans for October, or the last few months of the 2021? Let people know your BHAG’s!

From the Archives – Write Like the Mechanical Hound is After You!

http://Photo by Neel on Unsplash

Audi Version on HerbieWriter.Podbean.com

Another previous post, which seemed right to put out again after the last one on Ray Bradbury’s book Fahrenheit 451. This post concentrates on the writing of the original story from which the book developed.

Okay, so Ray Bradbury didn’t say directly to ‘write like the Mechanical Hound is after you’, but I am sure that is what he meant.

In 2006, he wrote a letter to Shauna Thorup, the Assistant Director of Fayetteville Public Library, with details of how he had produced the first draft of what would become Fahrenheit 451.

Bradbury explained that one day he was wandering around the library of UCLA, when he discovered a bank of typewriters down in the basement. These could be ‘hired’ for thirty minutes at a time, by inserting a dime into a timer.

Nine days later, $9.80 produced 25,000 words, which constituted the ‘The Fireman’.

Time and money were literally ticking away.

So he wrote fast.

Constantly aware that the ‘Mechanical Hound’ was getting closer and closer, only to be held at bay by throwing more dimes, like toffees, to keep the jaws preoccupied.

For the next thirty minutes, at least.

So, grab yourself some loose change and start the timer. (Check out my own experiences of using a timer here.)

25,000 words in $9.80, anyone?

If my calculations are correct then the rate of words per hour is 510, which doesn’t seem like much, but let’s give credit for working on a type writer rather than a modern keyboard.

Why not try it?

Ninety-eight lots of thirty minutes and see what you’ve got?

You may have to ignore the limit of nine days Bradbury took, if you are not a full time writer.

And ‘no pressure’ to end up with a story which you will then need to develop into a novel which won all of the awards which Fahrenhiet 451 went on to!

From the Archives – Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

I was looking back through some of the older posts and I thought that this one was worthy of dusting off. I’ve altered a few little bits to update it, but it is mostly what I originally wrote. I hope you enjoy it.

Recently I revisited one of my favourite Ray Bradbury novels in Fahrenheit 451, with a great audio version narrated by Tim Robbins.

One of the many things which struck me this time around was just how quickly Bradbury gets the story moving.

After a quick page or so of describing the Fireman Guy Montag doing his job and returning to the Fire Station we – along with the protagonist – are confronted with young woman Clarisse McClellan.

I wondered if this was where Thomas Harris got his inspiration for Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs.

I also couldn’t shift the image of Julie Christie as Clarisse in Truffaut’s cinematic version from 1966.

But back to the novel and Clarisse starts to question Guy Montag about his profession as a Fireman, musing on the possibility that Firemen used to put out fires not start them.

Bradbury moves so fast here.

How did she pick him out? Was she waiting for him? What made her think that he was different?

The strong opening imagery of Montag and his profession are now confronted with an alternative possibility in only six pages.

Montag returns home to find his wife has attempted suicide and we become aware that his life, and the life of the society we have been dropped into, is not positive or healthy.

Like Hamlet we realise that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Is Montag mad?

Suffering from a disease spread by the very things he burns?

Or like Hamlet, is he the only sane person in a cast of the mad or those who do not even realise they are just as trapped as he is?

Within fourteen pages, pretty much everything is set for the rest of the story.

Within a further nine pages we have met the Mechanical Hound, which Montag is convinced doesn’t like him. We meet his boss, Captain Beatty, who explains that the Hound is a machine. It doesn’t doesn’t think anything that ‘they’ don’t want it too.

Apart from a bookish mentor later on in the story, we have the cast of characters and the conflict which we will see play out.

We learn more about this futuristic society as we turn through the pages, but it is often only like the passing of the countryside looked at from the window of a car. If you concentrate on the outside though, there is plenty to see and learn from.

Genius.

Farenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes are the two novels I read over and over again in my teens. I have read each over a hundred times.

Part of Bradbury’s short story genius comes through both of these novels. You don’t need lots of exposition to get a story going. Plunge your reader straight into the action and blend in more necessary information as we follow the characters through their conflict.

Day 469 – The Saturday Answer.

The usual recap to begin . . .

. . . The Friday Question was, What specific style/genre/type of writing is the one you most want to write?

And my Saturday Answer is . . .

. . . One which changes all the time! If I read a thriller, then I want to write a thriller. If I read a detective/mystery novel, then that is what I want to write. And so on . . . But the type of writing which is constant, no matter what I am reading, is sports writing.

There are some great sports writers in the UK but the outlets are either through newspapers or sport specific monthly magazines. There is a growing number of weekly ‘newspapers’ specifically for sport but they generally tend to be match reports rather than anything in-depth pieces on teams/players/coaches. The rise of Podcasts has really begun to unearth some great content, which would equally be great to see in writing.

A UK version of Sports Illustrated would be outstanding.

I tend to be slightly negative about my own sports writing as I am not a great ‘fill it full of stats/facts’ kind of guy, but more focused on stories and trends.

Sports writing is an area I intend to devote more time to developing.

What’s your Saturday Answer to the Friday Question?

Day 465 – Revisiting Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’.

If you have read any of my other posts then you already know that I am a fan of Podcasts and Audiobooks. Today, I revisited one of my favourite Ray Bradbury novels in F451, with a great audio version narrated by Tim Robbins.

One of the many things which struck me this time around was just how quickly Bradbury gets the story moving.

After a quick page or so of describing the Fireman Guy Montag doing his job and returning to the Fire Station we – along with the protagonist – are confronted with Clarisse McClellan.

I wondered if this was where Thomas Harris got his inspiration for Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs. I also couldn’t shift the image of Julie Christie as Clarisse in Truffaut’s cinematic version from 1966.

Back to the novel and Clarisse starts to question Guy Montag and his profession as a Fireman, musing on the possibility that Firemen used to put out fires not start them.

Bradbury moves so fast here. How did she pick him out? Was she waiting for him? What made her think that he was different? The strong opening imagery of Montag now confronted with an alternative possibility takes just six pages.

Montag returns home to find his wife has attempted suicide and we become aware that his life, and the life of the society we have been dropped into, is not positive or healthy. Like Hamlet we realise that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Is Montag mad? Suffering from a disease spread by the very things he burns? Or like Hamlet, is he the only sane person in a cast of the mad or those who do not even realise they are just as trapped as he is?

Within fourteen pages, pretty much everything is set for the rest of the story.

Within twenty-three pages we have met the Mechanical Hound, which Montag is convinced doesn’t like him, and Captain Beatty, who we don’t trust the moment he explains that the Hound doesn’t think anything that ‘they’ don’t want it to.

Genius.

Main character. Catalyst character asking questions. Difficult home life/relationship. What will pursue the Main character. The Antagonist.

Then let the story play out . . .

Day 431 – A Million.

Ray Bradbury encouraged us to ‘write a thousand words a day for three years’ and then we would become writers.

At just over a million words that might be your 10,000 hour rule for writers.

Interestingly in the study which Malcolm Gladwell came across to coin his 10,000 hour rule, the focus was violinists and how often they practiced. The virtuoso violinists practiced the most, compared to those who were orchestra players or those who went on to become music teachers.

So how’s that practice going in your creative art?

Keep a log of time, words, canvases, or whatever makes the most sense for what your art is.

Tell me when you notice the difference in what you are doing, whether that is a million words, 10,000 hours, or a thousand canvases, of something else entirely.

Day 425 – What’s Your Next Project?

There should always be a next project.

What is it?

Still finishing up on a current project? It doesn’t matter.

There should already be another project.

How far through planning and scheduling it are you? Get on with it!

I’ll admit it is a fine line between dividing your creative focus between finishing your current project and the next one.

I find it difficult myself. It is easy to lose the flow and feeling in the words of the current idea when the next one is in my mind.

Here’s where a notebook comes in useful. Take a little extra time and get some of the ideas out of your head and down on paper. I prefer to do this with physically – pen and paper. Release some of that creative pressure in a positive way.

So what’s your next project?

I’ve had novels like H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, George Orwell’s 1984, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, going around in my head for a few weeks now, so I am thinking that a story in that direction might be my next focus.

Day 421 – The Saturday Answer and Other Stuff.

Quick Recap – The Friday Question was: if you could have written one book, painted one picture, or performed/written one song – what would it be?

It is so easy to run off a list of at least a dozen books for this answer, but I’m going to be good and only give you the one.

If I could have written one book, it would be Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. There are so many reasons why but the cleanness of the narrative and the name of the main protagonist ‘Montag’ have always resonated with me.

(I am not a visual artist but if I was then Hokasu’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa would be the picture)

(I have written songs but will only confess to this in parenthesis, so the song would be Genesis’ Supper’s Ready)

The other stuff:

A couple of days of blue skies and I’ve realised just how depressing I find grey cloudy skies. It doesn’t even need to be warm, but it is always nice.

I’ve downloaded Rod Judkins’ The Art of Creative Thinking. I’m only on p.27 but he’s pulled out the cannons early on with quotes like this, ‘No masterpieces have ever been produced by a talented but lazy artist’.

Le Tour has arrived! The Tour de France 2019 has begun today. I will write some extra posts with the Tour as the back drop for the next 23 days. I will publish thoughts and observations a day after the actual stage in order to give me time to get the podium placings and other stage information straight. It will be very much a working document which I hope will come together as something more significant at the end.

Day 399 – Writing Like . . .

One of the best ways for a writer not to write is to do research.

The best kind of research for a writer not to write is to research how other writers write.

Or don’t write.

Being able to counteract your wife’s accusatory statement of ‘I thought you said you were writing?’ As the reason why you weren’t doing all of those jobs in the garden, it is helpful to counter with ‘but this is how Stephen King writes!’

Okay, bad example – Stephen King would be writing!

‘Research’ on YouTube led me to Kate Cavanaugh.

In her Writing Vlog she has tried to spend a day writing like famous authors. She has done, amongst others, Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, Neil Gaiman, and Nora Roberts.

Kate scours the internet and puts together as much information as she can about the daily routine of the particular author she has chosen, then attempts to work like them, recording her experiences as she goes.

Check out the videos.

Then when you’re done doing that, tell me who you would spend a day writing like?

Kate has done Haruki Murakami which would have been one of my choices. I would go for Lee Child – I could match him for coffee but the cigarettes would either kill me or give me a habit which would ultimately have the same outcome.

I think I will try writing like Ray Bradbury.

Write Like The Mechanical Hound Is After You – Advice From Ray Bradbury.

Okay, so Ray Bradbury didn’t say directly to ‘write like the Mechanical Hound is after you’, but I am sure that is what he meant.

In 2006, he wrote a letter to Shauna Thorup, the Assistant Director of Fayetteville Public Library, with details of how he had produced the first draft of what would become Fahrenheit 451.

Bradbury explained that one day he was wandering around the library of UCLA, when he discovered a bank of typewriters down in the basement. These could be ‘hired’ for thirty minutes at a time, by inserting a dime into a timer.

Nine days later, $9.80 produced 25,000 words, which constituted the ‘The Fireman’.

Time and money were literally ticking away.

So he wrote fast.

Constantly aware that the ‘Mechanical Hound’ was getting closer and closer, only to be held at bay by throwing more dimes, like toffees, to keep the jaws preoccupied. For the next thirty minutes, at least.

So, grab yourself some loose change and start the timer.

25,000 words in $9.80, anyone?

Modern classic at the end? I will leave that up to you!