Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 226 og the 365 Days of Blogging

The author, Dane F. Baylis


For denizens of the Ventura County, CA literary and arts scene, Phil Taggert, Marsha De la O, and Friday Lubina of ASKEW POETRY JOURNAL, are hosting an on-going, Thursday evening featured reading followed by an open mic. It happens in the Topping Room of the Foster Library on Main Street in downtown Ventura every Thursday, except the fourth Thursday of the month.
The Avenue 50 Studio, 131 N. Avenue 50, Los Angeles, CA 90042 is hosting The Bluebird Reading on September 8th from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. The featured readers are Audrey Kuo, Cara Van Le, Melinda Palacio, and Mariano Zaro. An open mic session follows the featured readers. You can Google directions.




In her incredible book of essays on writing, creativity, and more, Anne Lamott has a terific piece entitled Radio Station KFKD. Yes, it does say that.
In the essay, Anne compares the voices in your head to a stereo broadcast. From the right speaker comes all the self-aggrandizing bullshit we tell ourselves everyday. How creative and witty we are, what enormous insight and compassion we display in our work, and how we never make noise or smell bad when we break wind!
From the left side comes all the piteous loathing we feel for ourselves. How we have never written a damn thing worthwhile, what total charlatans we are, and how, had that little girl not been watching, we'd have drop kicked that noisy damn Cockapoo right over his owner's car.
You need to get these voices under control. Maybe it's time to investigate yoga breathing, or buddhist mindfulness, or another vintage Cabernet. Perhaps you need to go out for a walk and just let things go! Whatever it is you need to do, DO IT! (Uh, put down that blunt, unless you're writing a cookbook, it probably won't help.)
Okay, you've finally turned down the internal stereo. You sit down and begin to construct that setting. You have a Main Character, an antagonist, and supporting characters to populate it, and some idea of where the story goes. No, you don't know what's going to happen yet. The characters haven't told you. The perfect little world and the incredibly good looking hero or heroine are all right, for a start. But let's face it, if something doesn't happen pretty damned soon, I'm putting your novel or short story on the pile of things I never should have picked up - and turning on the news.
Whether you're writing short stories, novellas, or novels, there has to be that point when something in the line of an 'UH-OH' moment occurs. Something has to shake up the perfect environment and get the train out of the station. It doesn't have to be the iceberg striking the Titanic, but it might be the warnings of ice in the area.
This is known as the inciting incident, or in the vernacular, 'pulling the trigger'. It's that event that sets the ball rolling, sort of like Indiana Jones snatching the idol off the pedestal and unleashing that mother huge rock that near squashes him flatter than an armadillo on a west Texas highway. Maybe a detective asks your main character some seemingly innocent sounding questions. Or your MC wakes from a blackout to see his face on the front page of a newspaper, AS A MURDER VICTIM! Maybe a dog he or she has never seen before is curled up asleep on the front porch and there's no one else around.
If you're writing a novel, you may be able to wait a few paragraphs or even an entire chapter before the inciting incident. If you're writing a short story, the sooner, the better. In the length-limited formats that are out there today you will, at best, have ten or twelve thousand words to tell the entire tale. More than likely you will have to do it in under five thousand. That should tell you what your lolly-gagging meter should be set for.
The point of all this is you should be giving your reader that, "Sit down, shut-up, hold on" ride when they pick up your work. If you stall around and try to play cute with getting things going, if you can't stand to part with one well trimmed hedge in that quintessential neighborhood you've designed, you're going to lose the audience. After all, it's not about constructing the perfect world, it's about the seismic tremor you can send through it.
Just a helpful hint from your Uncle Dane.


Dane F. Baylis

The sad dads sit
Thin gray shadows
On Sunday playground benches.

Watching weekend children
From swing
To slide
To sandbox.

Cyclone laughter
Spinning around
A carousel empire
Weaving sunlight make believe
Into sparrow chatter voices.

Fading to memories
Across empty rooms
Of sad dad lives
The shape
Of a familiar
Turns a stranger's face.

You wonder
Where intimacy goes
When the playground
Is closed.

Meanwhile...live, love, write.

Want to follow or subscribe to this blog? There are gadgets for that on the right side of the page. You can leave comments in the form below. I can be reached directly at dbaylis805@gmail.com . You can also find links to some of the sites I visit from time to time on the right. I'm also looking for submissions to the Your Work/Your Love page. Authors retain all rights.


Dane F. Baylis



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