VONNEGUT and “Buddhist​ catnaps”

I have been a fan of the famous writer, Kurt Vonnegut, for decades.

…He satirized the stylish popularity of Eastern meditation, saying we had the same thing in the West—reading short stories, which also lowered your heart rate and freed your mind from other concerns. He said short stories were “Buddhist catnaps.” [from KURT VONNEGUT LETTERS, edited by Dan Wakefield]

LEITER WRITING TIPS #23–I HATE THE RUSSIAN MOB

[Suggestions, observations, and advice, writing as Ben Leiter]

A thank-you note to Dennis Lehane for his book Moonlight Mile.

Mr. Lehane, please excuse my previous ignorance of the quality of your work. The dialogue and plot were as rich as Gone Girl. Of course, I fell in love with your protagonist which you had already planned for every reader to do.

I think I know how you did it: the protagonist is flawed; he is constantly in trouble; he tries to do right by his wife, and he is wicked in love with his little daughter.

So, after I bonded with your hero, and then the Boston Russian mob threatened his family — you had my undivided attention. Great plot twists and turns.

A thriller, through and through.

Maybe my contempt for the Russian mob and other mobs stems from my previous career?

 

LEITER WRITING TIPS #30–AMY TAN

[Suggestions, observations, and advice, writing as Ben Leiter]

I’ve always liked Amy Tan ever since I stumbled on her Joy Luck Club years ago.
Amy said, about her writing, “In real life, I had hundreds of moments of self-doubt. I deleted hundreds of pages from my computer’s memory.”
“As a beginning writer, I was still trying to figure out what qualified as a proper short story versus a prose poem, an anecdote, a character piece, a novella. I actually thought there were agreed-upon answers to questions like these: What is voice? What is story? How should characters develop?”
“ . . . the prose I like is such that everything is there for a reason — every word, every image, every bit of dialogue is needed . . . ”
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THE WRITING CHALLENGE

There is an open, never-ending challenge to writing. But, I think you are best advised to keep your day job.

 One of the best books on writing is Stephen King’s book — ON WRITING. He presents practical, clear-eyed, harsh advice in his usual inimitable style. Delightful read.

Kurt Vonnegut said something to the effect that if you really really want to upset your parents, then tell them you want to go into the arts.

CHECK OUT LIBBY; new at the party

Feel like I’m always late to the party; or don’t get invited; or don’t care: I’m talking about technology. But this time, I knew something about tech that my daughter didn’t.

LIBBY.

Available as an app through the Stockton public library. If you have a library card, you can borrow audio books for free for up to 21 days; no fines or late fees. It just electronically disappears.

What’s good—the free audio books go to your hard drive on your iPhone (I now have an iPhone, having turned in my 10 yo flip phone), or computer, or Ipad. No need to use those internet “minutes” or stay connected.

Right now, I have on my audio LIBBY bookshelf:
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry ( by Neil DeGrasse Tyson)
A Man Called Ove (by Fredrik Backman–I thought it would be by a guy named “Ove”?)
The Late Show ( by Michael Connelly)

What also works well for me, is they have 5-minute audio samples– lets me listen to various literary styles/techniques/tones to keep the boys in the basement sharp (that’s a literary reference to the “writing subconscious”).

Tyson let me down though, last night. I was using him to put me to sleep at 3 a.m. Instead, my head filled up with photons, and electrons, and leptons which interfered with my neurons.

Write On!

Critique Groups

I second H’s motion.
The harsh, unremitting, blistering, flaying, take-no-prisoners, in-your-face, critiques of my work–sensitively, kindly, and thoughtfully delivered have been invaluable to me. [Sunglasses]
We also need to meet to remind ourselves that we’re not crazy–we’re writers!

writing as Ben Leiter

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I hope no one gets distressed by the occasional cancellation. Summer can be difficult. This group is too effective not to thrive. It has been enormously helpful in my writing. I will have a new manuscript in progress next week and will look forward to a great critique.

H

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On Jul 31, 2018,  Ben Leiter wrote:

Hi folks,
Based on response, I am canceling the meeting for tonite.
Only had 1 fer-sure; and two maybes.
We’ll try for next week.

Write On!

SCREENWRITING–advice to a cousin

E-mail response to a request:

Hey, cousin, here’s a response to your question about screenwriting technique-books, courtesy of Harlan Hague. Harlan is an award-winning writer of westerns. I’ve read his stuff and like it, especially IF I SHOULD DIE.

I have SAVE THE CAT. It is considered a classic. Easy to read for you, but unfortunately, the only cartoon is on the cover. [Stuck out tongue winking eye]

My suggestions:
*Go to Amazon and buy all three books used. The cost of the book can be less than the postage.
*Start watching/listening to you-tube videos on screenwriting while you are doing your daily pumping-iron routines.
*Google.
*Get Neil Simon screenplays from the library.
*Check out to see if you can get LIBBY. It’s a free audiobook download (bestsellers, etc.) available through some libraries if you have a library card. Once downloaded, you do not need the internet to listen. You have the audiobook for a set time and it automatically expires. No fines.
*Since you are Irish and may have screenwriting interests, it is a mandatory requirement that you master ULYSSES by James Joyce and memorize the first 100 lines. There will be a test. A representative from the Irish Republic will schedule you when you are ready.

Actually, I think you might do well. Screenplays, in my opinion, are more action and dialogue-oriented/dependent than my stuff which explores the nature of man and the cosmos. Lots of exploring–no answers. Also, I think your stuff would sell.
[Thanks for the followup on the books, Harlan. I would like to borrow the books and look through them. I already have SAVE THE CAT.]

Write On!

 

Recommended screenwriting books from Harlan Hague:

Here are some standards on screenwriting basics:

Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder
Screenwriting, by Richard Walter
Screenplay, by Syd Field