37,459 mother-lovin’ total words. 2,342 words written today. I should have pushed it to 2,345 words, but come on… really?
Let’s rip this playhouse down with…
WRITING ADVICE: Being A General in the American Civil War
Here’s the thing about being a General in the American Civil War: you had to be great at building up your soldiers. You had to care for them, keep them inspired, keep them clothed, and keep them sheltered. You had to make them feel loved and confident. You had toughen them up and make them believe in themselves. You had to put your all into it.
And then you had to take them into the maw of hell and let them get chewed into bloody pile. Then take the survivors, patch them up, feed them, clothe them, soothe them, comfort them, inspire them…
Then do the same damned thing.
As a writer of fiction, THAT’S what you get to do with your characters.
Create some characters. People you’d like to know. Make some people you wouldn’t like to know but damned if they ain’t interesting. Then put them in a situation that will break them. If they don’t break, try harder. Be cruel to them until the story stops.
Orson Welles said that whether a story has a happy ending or a sad ending depends on where you stop the story. Later in his life, Orson Welles’ sad endings were all at the end of a buffet line. Ha! His body didn’t conform to the arbitrary societal standard of beauty! Take that, dead guy!
Where was I? You’re right. Buffets.
Why do Chinese buffets now feature french fries? Are people unprepared for the food they find there? “I came to this Chinese buffet, but damned if there isn’t all this Chinese food here! I need some fries to latch onto.”
(Sending THAT one to Jerry Seinfeld. He could use some fresh material.)
Oh, wait. Parents might take their kids to the buffet and those kids might not like sweet-and-sour pork. So the fries are there to mollify those kids. DAMN! The premise is shot down!
I bet Jerry’ll still buy it.
Okay. So. The Civil War, Orson Welles was fat, Buffets, Chinese Food, and Jerry Seinfeld just ain’t funny anymore. I think that about covers everything I wanted to talk about.
To summarize: you always write about hurting the virtual people that you love. The ones you shouldn’t pretend-hurt at all.
NOTE: On the third read-through (the one where I exorcise the text to make sure word demons don’t enter your mind), I’ve noticed that there isn’t any actual advice here. Oops! Er… it’s okay to be cruel as long as the story gets told? Hopefully, if it moves you, it will move the audience as well.