Out of the Box… Office

Elsewhere in these Blogs I have written about the comments of some people who write me to say, “I could see the movie as I was reading your book.” That started me thinking, if someone can “see the movie”, how good a director, art director, casting director etc. are they? My book becomes the screenplay, but the color, tone, composition and flow of the “movie” is totally developed by them.
How interesting it would be for them to You Tube their movie of my book to me. What would I see? “Wow, I didn’t know that character was a short guy?” “She was a redhead?” “He talked slow like that?” “He would never wear that tie.”
Unless of course I wrote, “ He was wearing his emerald green tie with the shamrocks embossed on it in honor of St. Patty’s day. Otherwise, chartreuse? How does the internal movie director of my reader, affect my story?
Recently, I participated in a Book Club Q&A session over Skype. When people who read the book, recounted their favorite scenes, I was amazed at the details they “wrote in” as they went on and described in almost perfect recall, like they were there, even down to the green tie!!!
My initial urge was to correct their staging and directing of my scene, re-edit the action, recast the players and adjust the props. But… All you can do is put it on the paper. The rest of the process happens in the mind of the reader. That’s why they read books! After all, what everybody really wants to do is DIRECT!



When you shouldn’t write…

I get a lot of people inside government, the scientific community and law enforcement agencies who “tell” me things off the record. You know, “You didn’t hear this from me but…”

Well, last week I got a tip on something, I’ll call it “Installation X,” a really good piece of reality that would make a beautiful plot point and revelation. For me revelation is as important as a tight story. I use “fiction” in my books to plant a few seeds on things that governments and media soft pedal or aggressively ignore into obliteration.

So I get this information that I could center my entire 4th book on. A juicy, real, almost unbelievable fact that I can fictionalize. Except, last week I got a note that asked I forget what I was told. The reason? Apparently, it’s hotter than even the person who shared it with me thought it was.

Professional dilemma: respect my source or go for it? Well, I decided to not only respect my source but also join into the spirit of our national secrets, which is mainly to keep them secret. So I took a deep breath and moved on. This happened with my first book, when I deduced, based on available technology, a technological process that could protect the President. I “made it up” and wrote it into my story. Then a person who was a protector of POTUS asked me to “not go there.” Fair enough. I broomed it for the sake of Presidential security and my acquaintance, and the folks he works with, lives. Easy decision… then.

Two days ago, I met a guy who tells me almost the whole “Installation X” story! Now this guy is a new source. I could go with his version of the events and situation since he so far has not asked me to forget it. (He may not be as in the loop as my original source.) But that would just be a way around what I said I wouldn’t do to my original source and my own feeling of obligation to the men an women who risk their lives carrying out our nation’s security that has to be done in secret.

So no. I am still not going to go near this thing. I will however scour the Internet, go to the library and see if any of this can be open sourced. Meaning if it’s already out there and thus I won’t be jeopardizing a source or my country. Although I hope it’s not.

Mess – The Essential Human Element

When building a character, mess defines the polar edges of the character.“What a mess!” “You’re a mess.” “She’s a hot mess.”

When building a character, mess defines the polar edges of the character. Mess is the result of all the unfinished, all the partial efforts, partial thoughts, unexecuted dreams, abbreviated wishes. These untidy loose ends create mess.

In a good life, mess would only be around the edges — those things just out of reach that you haven’t gotten to yet. Mess as a character trait, is a part of the recipe of a literary character. It has to be delicately treated. It ranges from Pigpen to James Bond. With all due respect to Peanuts, let’s look into James Bond. Continue reading

Read the Book – See the Movie

A hundred years ago, the book was the primary narrative. It transported readers to places that they’d probably never see and cultures that they’d never experience in their lives. The book was a window to another world in their hands.

Even today with our LCD, Flat screen, Smart phone, iPad screens, we still usually make visual associations when we read. This is a part of human psychology, people come in three flavors, visual, aural, or kinesthetic as they read and learn. That is, at first, do they see something, do they hear something or do they feel something? People who gravitate towards my books are either visual learners or my style brings that out in them. Continue reading

It’s Only Fiction ‘Til It Happens

I remember when 9-11 happened, a lot of well known faces were surprised, and said, “Who would think to fly a plane into a building?”  I immediately knew – Tom Clancy.  At the end of one of his books, a Japanese 747 pilot crashes a plane into Congress during the State of the Union speech, leaving his character as the President of the United States.  It was only fiction, until it happened.

In my own experience, I had an FBI agent tell me that a month before 9-11, there was no problem with my bad guys crashing a plane into a building, and that it certainly wouldn’t give a terrorist an idea.  A month later he died.  He was the head of security at the World Trade Center.  I freaked out and didn’t write for three or four years.  I’d written about a scenario, and then a very similar scenario had happened, and a man had died along with 3,000 other innocent souls. Continue reading