Writing A Novel: What I Do NOT Want To Be Remembered For

Apr 24, 2014 by

Writing A Novel: What I Do NOT Want To Be Remembered For

Welcome to my series about writing a novel. We are in the beginning stages of a self-study designed to help one whether writing a novel or just interested in identifying ways to learn more about oneself.

Today's exercise: Things you do NOT want to be remembered for....

Today’s exercise: Things you do NOT want to be remembered for….

If you’ve not read the previous posts associated with this thread here on DaddyClaxton.com, I encourage you to jump back to the beginning on Monday, April 21, 2014.

Regardless, today’s exercise is designed to help tickle thoughts about oneself that hopefully can be beneficial.

There are no right or wrong answers here and one need not post their thoughts anywhere. In fact, this is a highly private exercise series.

To take part, I’ve been encouraging people to use 3 x 5 blank notecards, a good pen and their imaginations to do the daily exercise.  Start by writing the day’s question at the top of the card and number them as you go. It’s okay to just put one column or two or three, depending on how big you write. But the point is, to be honest with yourself. Today’s question is a legacy question, one we all must ask ourselves from time-to-time throughout life. This can be a motivational question or it can be a bucket list type question, particularly today.  Spinoffs from this card series today are perfectly fine and even expected and hoped for. If you can identify things you’ve done in the past that you don’t want to be remembered for, maybe you start a list of things you can do to ensure that doesn’t happen or the impact of what was done is outweighed by something more positive or beneficial to others.

The premise for these cards for those writing a novel is to keep an inventory of characteristics that can be projected onto fictional characters once a writer begins the process of writing a novel. But honestly, they can be just as positive or beneficial to someone who just wants to enjoy more about what this life has to offer.

You don’t have to post your list below. If you’d like to share, that’s perfectly fine. But this really is designed for a personal study and reflection.

EXERCISE

What I DO NOT wanted to be remembered for?

 

 

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Writing A Novel: A Self-Study

Apr 23, 2014 by

Writing A Novel: A Self Study Of Me…

Go buy several stacks of 3 x 5 notecards and keep them with you where ever you go.

Go buy several stacks of 3 x 5 notecards and keep them with you where ever you go.

At the suggestion of Robert McKee from his book, STORY, for more than a month now I have been carrying around stacks of plain, white 3 x 5 notecards and writing nearly everything I can think about on them. That is as it pertains to the process of penning my first novel.

For several years now I have made it a regular practice to carry with me a sketchpad. Some day my daughters and dear friend, the former Ms. Julie Nelson, are going to find them tucked a way and find out more about dad than they ever realized was going on in this head of mine. Actually, that will probably fill in a lot of gaps with them as to where my brain was when they said I wasn’t talking so much and seemed like I was somewhere else.

But for the past month, I’ve converted over to the stack of notecards and various rubberbands sectioning off a pile associated with this, that and whatever else it is I’ve uncovered, realized or thought about either in the form of research, “What if…” exercises, and plot ideas.

More importantly, there’s also been stacks of cards associated with WHO I AM. Whether I was writing this book or not, those would be invaluable to me.

Back in 2008 or so on a plane ride to somewhere up east I did a similar exercise and listed out all the roles I was playing in life, things like son, husband, brother, father, writer, painter, blogger, etc. (See yesterday’s post for this exercise.)

But through my own devices and hints from McKee, I’ve come to realize that in order to write a convincing story, I’m going to have to dig deep into research, and not just research into the technical nature of places and things that are going to be in my story, but most importantly, I’m going to have to dig down deep and find out what’s inside of me.

EXERCISE

So here’s what I did and what I encourage you to do, whether you’re reading the blog to see what I’m up to or if you’re on a similar journey to write a novel, short story, novella, play, movie script, whatever. You need to find out first and foremost who you are.

On separate 3 x 5 notecards, write out the answers to the following two questions:

Who am I? 

What do I want to be remembered for?

This exercise from today and the ones to follow should take you DAYS to work through and there are dozens of other questions I’d suggest you spin off from these. If you’re serious about writing, if you’re serious about doing something positive and helpful for yourself, I suggest you go to Walmart and buy three or four packs of black 3 x 5 notecards. (They’re like $0.84 at Walmart and $1.99 for the same thing at Albertsons.)

When you get home, out on the porch, are sitting in the middle of Chick Fil A, Cracker Barrel, Panera Bread, Firehouse Subs, or where ever it is you go to perch, (I don’t drink coffee, so I took Starbucks off the initial suggestions list but if you do, put it back on) take out some blank cards, make sure you’ve brought a good writing pen–my favorites are ones from bedside at hotels–and write the question at the top of the card and start writing what comes to mind on the card. When you fill up the front of the card, start a second with initials of the question on the top of the second, with a number 2 and keep answering the question. And keep going and going and going card after card after card.

Remember, this is a journey, not a sprint. This isn’t a one afternoon activity and it’s time to start writing something. So don’t rush this. Whether you ever get to the point of starting a book about an adventure you want to share with the world or not, just doing this introspection will tell you things about yourself you do not realize right now.

Seriously.

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Writing A Novel: A self-study?

Apr 22, 2014 by

Writing A Novel: A self-study?  Over on DaddyClaxton.com today we’re writing about an unexpected benefit of writing a novel–doing an in-depth personal self-study of oneself in order to be able to write a novel. Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 7.16.57 AM The logic makes perfect sense. If one is going to get into the minds of multiple fictional characters, there are many things that seemingly would need to be straight within the mind of the originating author as well, right? So today, and for several days to come actually, we’re posing a series of questions that we believe all authors, and even those not wanting to write, should ponder and do so seriously. Did you know that almost 95 percent of the population will never do such an exercise? In our mind, we’d rather be in the five percent who does. Life will seemingly make a little more sense. We hope. We encourage you to jump over to DaddyClaxton.com and read the set up and then do today’s exercise and the ones to follow in the days to come.  We think you’ll be glad you did.

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Who Am I? The Self-Discovery Caused From Writing A Novel

Apr 22, 2014 by

Who Am I? The Self-Discovery Caused From Writing A Novel

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My childhood window, upstairs and down. I used to sit at these windows and write when I was in elementary school at KI Sawyer AFB in Michigan and we lived at 208 Fortress.

Somewhere back in time at 208 Fortress Street in base housing of the former Strategic Air Command’s K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I would sit at a kidney bean family heirloom desk with a children’s red type writer and “write.” I would sit in front of the lower window you see in the photo to the right and I would write.

A few years later in Mrs. Reid’s eighth-grade journalism class at Mitchell Sr. Elementary School in Atwater, CA circa 1979-80, I received the worst grade I’ve ever received on a writing project–an F, for refusing to write a short, fictional story. Note, it was a journalism class.

During my senior year of college at Auburn University at Montgomery, in 1987, I received one of my best writing grades–an A, in Nancy Anderson’s Advanced Expository Writing class. Mrs. Anderson, who went by the self-proclaimed nickname “the Dragon Lady,” almost never awarded works with such grades, but I am proud to say, I am one of the few. During that quarter I was taking 24 hours of classes, working on the school newspaper and working at a local department store to help pay for school.

Writing, and principled writing, has been a part of my life since I can remember.

But I am learning at age 48 there still is much I have to learn about writing.

My late maternal grandmother, Joyce Sheptak, used to always to encourage me to “write what I know,” the oft used cliche nearly every writer knows. She always used to cite “I Remember Momma” as her impetus for the suggestion.

During the past month or so since I began this new novel writing practice, I’ve studied much about what I know and come to the conclusion that my writing shouldn’t be as much about “what I know” but about “who I am.”

And that’s led to some amazing self-discovery and analysis. My counselor, friend and web client, Dr. Harold Duncan of Dallas, Texas says right now I’m actually doing something that almost 95 percent of the population, or more, never will do, whether writing a novel or not.

I’m trying to really find out who I am.

WHO AM I?

That’s been an amazing question to ponder. Dr. Duncan says that at age 48 it’s about time I started asking myself such questions. As he has explained, you can’t do what I’m doing in your teens, 20s, 30s or even really in one’s early 40s. In life, we’re just not ready. Our perspectives on such an exercise would be highly skewed.

Think about that for a moment. In our teens, we clearly have no clue about what life is about. We think we do. Many parents have done much to help get us ready to leave and cleave by age 18 and graduation from high school, but even as the eldest of five children, I can honestly assert, I wasn’t ready for that.

Our 20s are spent trying to find a vibrant career and in large part, mine were also spent thinking I needed to find a spouse to start a family. God had other plans.

Our 30s are spent in family and work mode.

Our 40s leap up fast and we think we have become experts about what this life is about and all of a sudden someone pulls a rug out from under you and everything that once was up is down and what was down is now up.

And at least for me, after enduring that mid-40s upsetting of what I thought was going to be a smooth sail to the finish line, I can honestly sit here and pen this. I have some new perspectives on life I didn’t have before.

So who am I? I’m not the person I was at any other point in my life. When I was younger I held the perspective that I probably couldn’t write fiction because ultimately, I hated to see the travesties of life inflicted on my characters. I wanted and thought and longed for a smooth life. I thought that was still possible. After being wronged, cheated and having lost nearly every element of normalcy to my life I once held as dear, I finally feel like I can skewer a character or two of my own in my stories.

More about me to follow. This is, after all, a journey. We’re not going all the way in one or two posts.

 EXERCISE

Time to step away from the computer for a bit, take out a piece of paper and a pen and think about yourself.  Do this exercise:

1) Write down one or two words that describe each of the various roles you currently play in your life.

Fill up the page. Do two or three. That’s fine, there are no right or wrong answers, so long as you’re being honest with yourself. This isn’t for anyone else to see, so be brutally honest with yourself. The more honest you are with you, the more you will get out of this activity, whether you’re going to write a novel or simply work on better defining who you are.

2) Once you’ve made a sizable list go back thru it. What roles are you in that are positive? Are there any that are negative? Do you need to change any of them?  If there are roles you think you need to change, I recommend getting out a 3 x 5 notecard and putting them on a separate list. We’ll come back to them later.

 

My Novel Project

The Beginning April 21, 2014

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Writing a Novel: The project has initiated on DaddyClaxton.com

Apr 21, 2014 by

Writing a Novel: The project has initiated on DaddyClaxton.com

Today on my companion website, DaddyClaxton.com, I’ve begun with announcement. I’ve been working several months now to begin the process of writing a novel. Actually, it really began sometime last year when I began with a print copy of Robert McKee’s book, Story, and spending untold hours with it and an ink pen making active notes throughout the work.

That has spring boarded from a desire as a publisher of online books to an itch to become an author as well. The Beginning Of Writing A Novel

And an even better discovery has happened along the way. I’ve found that in order to be a good novel writer/play write/novella writers, etc. one has to be in very good touch with himself. That has led to a massive self-study effort that you will find reflected in the posts that are to come on DaddyClaxton.com and here on ClaxtonCreative.com.

This is by no means meant to be a week or two-week series. It’s already survived longer than that pre-announcement.

I encourage you to bookmark this site and check back often for new information. Check out DaddyClaxton.com, too.

My friend, mentor and digital book colleague Ron Rose has cautioned me about the enormity of the effort I’ve begun.  I’ve responded in saying that I get it, but in all likelihood, I can’t possibly “get it” until I have completely weathered the task.

If you have tips and ideas along the way, I encourage you to share them.  I don’t believe for a second I will have all right answers and suggestions from those of you at various places in the process will be most helpful.

So here we go. Onward…..

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Writing A Novel: A Guide And Record Of How I’m Going To Do It

Apr 21, 2014 by

Writing A Novel: A Guide And Record Of How I’m Going To Do It

It’s been about a month and a half now since I began an adventure and as yet, I’ve not really told many what I’m doing. As I sit here and type, I even have a hesitation, something akin to having had a few miscarriages previously and waiting to announce a pregnancy until it’s well enough along. Being a man, assuredly male, I can convincingly say I am not pregnant, but I have begun an exploratory effort to birth out something seemingly as difficult–I’ve begun to write my first novel.

The use of notecards is essential in design of a literary work. More on why in coming posts.

The use of notecards is essential in design of a literary work. More on why in coming posts.

That’s not saying I’ve actually begun writing anything. Nothing of what will be the book, provided I finish this process from beginning to end, has dare been written yet. In fact, everything I’ve read so far suggests I should not even begin typing “the book” for several more months, and some might even argue, YEARS.

What I intend to do in a series of posts is document this journey in hopes that others shall find peace, confidence, clues or helpful tips about what to and not to do in their own right/write.

It is my desire at this writing to supply information about how I:

  • Got interested in my topic
  • Did my research
  • Read about how to write a story
  • Went from idea to concept to premise and beyond
  • Wrote a fictional novel

So many factors will depend on my success or failure. Things like:

  • Available time when I should be doing work for clients
  • Available mental time
  • Available information
  • Available drive

Lots of things. And many more not on the above list.

Writing a novel, it appears, is not for the faint of heart. But after multiple sessions now with my counselors, my sister, and other confidants, the greatest thing that’s happening here is that I am mentally getting “unstuck.” I’m told I’m breaking free from the things in my life from the past four years and clicking things into another gear. That’s not me saying that, that’s the general observation. And if you read any of my past history, you will see that’s a big, big step.

THE PLAN

So what’s the plan? That’s a good question and one I’m going to seek to sum up here.

First of all, I’m going to type out a series of posts for the site(s) daddyclaxton.com and claxtoncreative.com and maybe another one to be announced later, and begin to include regular posts as I go throughout the process. I also will include information on Twitter @daddyclaxton and @claxtoncreative. I have some additional tips and ideas that shall come from that later.

In those posts, it is my intent as of  April 21, 2014, to begin providing regular information about the process. That will include reviews of the books I’ve read to get me into this mess, as well as ones I’ve bought and read word-for-word religiously once I left port. And I shall share other insights from reviews of existing literature.

Once I’ve established enough about the materials used to get into the process, I will begin to write ABOUT the actual process. Where does one begin? How does one begin? Where’s the middle? What’s the end?

I also shall write about the tools I’ve found to go through this process. That in and of itself has been a lesson.

There will be discoveries and set backs along the way, things I cannot forecast right now that I shall address as I come to them. This is, after all, a journey. And a journey in life isn’t any fun, nor decent, if it goes from start to finish exactly as expected?

So it’s time now to close this initial post. The seed has been planted. Water has been poured on the ground. It’s time to see if anything can break through to the surface.

 

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Problems with #TheBlacklist-Lizzie’s Search of Jolene’s ‘Apartment’

Mar 27, 2014 by

Problems with The Blacklist-Lizzie’s Search of Jolene’s ‘Apartment’

Tom Clancy once paraphrased about four or five others when he said on Larry King, “The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense.”Liz Apartment2

After watching Monday night’s The Blacklist – Ivan twice now, I can come up with almost two dozen problems with Liz Keen and her search of Jolene’s apartment in the Monday, March 24, 2013 episode, IVAN.

Lizzie has gotten Arum to find out where Jolene’s last cell call originated from. It’s an address in DC and she goes there. Before she goes in, she calls her hubs, Tom, who is inside the “apartment,” which is not the same place Cowboy searched two weeks ago and found all of her spare IDs and such, but really, as some commenters have called it, “Tom’s Lair.” 

So here are the problems with this one scene:

1) Liz didn’t call for backup before going into the place. Not DC Metro PD, not the FBI. I keep hearing the guy in “In The Line Of Fire” who kept asking Clint Eastwood, “Why didn’t you endeavor to know more?”

2) She interfered with a DC Metro Police missing person’s case by entering into the place.

3) Why would she call her hubs, Tom, a fourth-grade teacher before entering the place? The only reason that makes sense is that she wants someone to know where she is and she still, at that point, trusts him.

4) Why is this fourth grade teacher never at school teaching? For an FBI agent, you think she’d have been to visit him at school by now or something, wouldn’t you?

5) Where did she get keys that would work on his door? Is it standard issue for FBI agents to have a master key of some sort or is this some sort of throw back to her self-proclaimed expertise of criminal activity when she was younger?

6) She didn’t call Ressler or any of the others back at the Post Office before entering a dangerous situation.  Ever heard of backup?

7) There’s a car parked right in the middle of the place. It looks like the tarp on it hasn’t moved since before Tom transported bodies in it. Wouldn’t there be traces of Cowboy blood in the trunk?

8) Tom’s fingerprints have to be all over that place. Would DC Metro not have taken a few of them off the car, the guns, the computers, the door knobs….

9) Wouldn’t one of the first things any law enforcement officer would have done, maybe DC Metro, is find out who owns or is leasing the “apartment?”

10) Okay, so there is at least one sniper rifle and several hand guns in the place. Once they had seen all that hardware, wouldn’t DC Metro have called in the Bureau or ATF?

11) Wouldn’t there have been some fallout for Liz going into a place without a warrant?  Of course, the assumption remains that they’re in Jolene’s place, not Tom’s, but you’d think….

12) What’s the likelihood that all of the photos Tom attempted to burn would have indeed done that completely and beyond recognition?

13) Tom not also burning the doll Liz gave him along with the pictures was a big gaffe on his part.

14) Shouldn’t Liz have let the bossman know about Jolene Parker? I know she has trust issues with him over the Judge issue, but still, protocol would seemingly have required it.

That’s fourteen. I’ll probably come up with more, but that took me about eight minutes to type out just those few problems with this one scene.

It was a great show Monday and I read somewhere that the producers say the most important thing about the show wasn’t what Liz learned about Tom, but what Tom has learned about Liz.  I saw some analysis was done on the photos of the wall Tom had created. I’ve not looked back.  Maybe later. I have actual work to do today so…..

 

 

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