Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oddness and impassivity

Ideas are beginning to pop into my mind over "The Lyons' Den."  Off-beat things that may add to the clarity of the story and clean up the opening.  Some of the feedback I've gotten I agree with; some I do not; some I don't even begin to understand.  But it's all good because it frees my mind from too close a link to the story and lets me question its telling and the teller -- not me but Ace.  He and I are going to have fun with this.

Something that gave me a surprising boost in awareness was watching "Born Yesterday" (1950), again.  It's a neatly constructed comedy with some brutally serious moments that has the typical message of how corruption is ruining everything America stands for.  Still a salient problem in the country, today, but lately its less because of money and more because of a corrupt ideology taking hold.  However, it was a quiet moment halfway into the movie that gave me a good smack.

Some background on the movie, first.  It's how the crass, dumb girlfriend of a crass, corrupt wheeler-dealer guy starts being "educated" by a newspaper reporter and winds up realizing she's been sleepwalking through life and wants to make a change in her direction...something the wheeler-dealer doesn't like.  It's all "if you read books you'll learn" kind of thinking -- with great reliance on the works of Thomas Payne and Thomas Jefferson and the like -- but the movie slyly points out that sometimes well-intentioned writers get so lost in their words they forget their meaning.

So what happens is, outside the Library of Congress the reporter (played by William Holden) asks the girlfriend (played by Billie Holliday) if she read an article he wrote.  She did, and she didn't understand any of it.  "And I looked up every word!"  He has her read it aloud to him and it's full of elegant thought and five dollar verbiage and I understood it, perfectly.  She still doesn't get it.  So he explains it to her in a simple, straightforward way...and the light goes on in her head and she says, "Why didn't you say so?"  And he has no answer.

That's then LD started knocking at the back of my brain.  And a little whisper started in my head saying, "You know, sometimes you obscure the simple facts with a lot of crap."  And I think that's what I did with the beginning of the novel, hiding it behind Ace doing his verbal dance.  I don't set the story up right, and that's why the opening is slow and difficult to connect with.  So...that's where I start.  And I've already got ideas of how to bring clarity to confusion and obfuscation (See?  I know big words, too).

I'm rewriting the books 4 times.  That should help clarify things.  Or not.  You never know till you know.

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