The Manic Pixie Pout-Pout

Pout Pout 1

Since I now have another two-year-old, I’m back to reading the simplest books to her at bedtime. Most of these books are innocuous, if occasionally incompetent (i.e., Big Snowman, Little Snowman, a Frozen tie-in book that probably takes longer to read than it did to write). A few are brilliant, such as Room on the Broom. But I’m here to talk about … Read More

What Does Revising Look Like?

editing

  The photo above is a page from the in-progress Red Reaper novel I’m writing with Tara Cardinal. The print text* is the first draft. All the notes are corrections for the second draft (or first revision, if you prefer). This passage had some interesting challenges. Tara wrote it before she turned it over to me. Since this story is … Read More

Film Review: Over Home: Love Songs from Madison County

over home final

Way back in the early years of this century (being able to say that makes me smile), the spark of the idea that would become the Tufa struck me at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Also at that festival, I first heard Sheila Kay Adams at one of the midnight sessions, in a huge tent on a warm … Read More

Five Great Movies About Writers

Anders Danielsen Lie (l) and Espen Klouman-Høiner in Reprise.

Writers aren’t that exciting to be around when we’re working. What we do–staring into space, muttering to ourselves, typing then backspacing and typing some more–isn’t exactly dynamic. It might be why there are so few good movies about writers actually writing. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of good movies with writer characters in them; that’s fairly common. But … Read More

A story as tight as a sharkbite

"The head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Every year on the Fourth of July, we watch Jaws. It’s the original summer movie, and the template for everything great about the blockbuster/tentpole approach. It’s also a really good story (and yes, it was a good story when Melville first told it, too, but that’s another post). The book it is based on, however, is not. A really good story, … Read More

“We two are now more than us two”: messing with the rhythm

The American poster.

Every good work of dramatic storytelling has an internal rhythm that we, as readers/watchers/listeners, subconsciously pick up on as we go further into it. It often means we’re able to sense where a story is going before we should, based on hints the storyteller didn’t even know s/he was giving us. Sometimes it can be obvious, like the ten individual … Read More

Brother Blue (1921-2009)

Brother Blue passed away earlier this month at age 88. If you know of him at all, it’s probably from the George A. Romero film Knightriders. In this Arthurian story of jousting motorcyclists, Brother Blue played Merlin, advisor to King William (Ed Harris). He was the troubled king’s lone confidante, and the one person who understood William’s desire to maintain … Read More

Gateway Characters (in Hell or Alaska)

Lately the mater familias and I have been watching Northern Exposure, a show I caught only haphazardly during its network run in the early 90s. At the time I much preferred the grittier fantasmagoria of Twin Peaks to the bucolic magical realism of Northern Exposure; as I’ve mellowed (i.e., gotten older), though, I find that Northern Exposure (hereafter referred to … Read More