Where Have I Been?

Damned if I can remember.

Shoved a full-flown memoir of my two years in Southeast Asia during the Viet-Nam War — “HOTEL CONSTELLATION: Notes from America’s Secret War in Laos” — to the family and a few very close (tolerant) friends.

Finished a supernatural adventure novel called “The Mark of the Spider” and sent it out to beta readers last spring. Still awaiting feedback, so that’s not promising.

Rewriting a straight sci-fi called “PSNGR” — formerly “The Passenger”? — seemingly forever. Instead of tackling chapter 28 today, I’m doing this.

I first wrote PSNGR as a long short story; then as a graphic novel when I had a comic book publisher willing to take a look at it. Now trying to finish it as a potential indie publishing project.

Bailed on my writer’s group for personal reasons having nothing to do with the calibre of their kind feedback.

Journeys, which is what this writing process was intended to be, can be tortuous. Witness The Odyssey. Which is not to say my journey has been nearly as exciting, or even interesting.

And the point is …

But I digress from my intent today, which is to point out links to two stories that struck my fancy.

Ten Books that Were Written on a Bet — From the terse Dr. Seuss to the loquacious James Fennimore Cooper and C.S. Lewis, I’ll be dipping into this list in future.

Publishers Are Now Shedding Best-Selling Authors — So … what’s the point?

Bottom line

keepcalm

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Words Matter

As Mark Twain is supposed to have said, There’s a difference between a horse chestnut and a chestnut horse.

I would argue that words can convey emotions, even when not intended.

Unfriendly Patient signIn the sign at right, which I found outside a medical building where very serious things occur, I wondered about the concept of “loading” and “unloading” patients.

As someone who transported corpses to the hospital morgue in a previous life, I wondered if “loading” conveyed the intended meaning.

Perhaps “pickup” and “drop-off” might have been better as well as shorter.

After all, what are patients? Sacks of potatoes?

 

Hitchcock: What to Tell the Reader

During a session of the 2017 convention of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs #AWP, someone whose name I did not get paraphrased an Alfred Hitchcock quotation about the difference between mystery and suspense.

I was curious about the exact quotation and looked it up. (See below.)

quote-mystery-is-an-intellectual-process-but-suspense-is-essentially-an-emotional-process-alfred-hitchcock-68-31-21

In my search, I found a longer, fuller explanation about the difference between surprise and suspense.

The key lesson of both quotations: Give the reader information the characters do not have and you will create suspense.

Herewith, Mr. Hitchcock:

“There is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise,” and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.

“We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let’s suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!”

“In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.”