Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Real Braveheart

"Kiss the hem of my cloak. Swear allegiance to style. Hemmingway's style. Forswear commas even sensible commas. A comma means your sentence is too damn long. No one wants to read you. Hemmingway. McCarthy. Not a stupid Scottish Bear."
William Wallace (Braveheart) to the King's Editor, "You can take my adverbs, but you cannot take my ellipses..."

Bear has fun. Bear has 50 plot holes. Rolling them out one-by-one. Miraculously fixing them. You. Know. Let's try out this new style, though.

Francis is Pope. Some say he isn't. I don't know. A few things are good. Most seem bad. Like a bad pope. I was happy that day. I liked him. Now I'm sad. Is Francis the pope? I don't know. I feel no connection to him. I wish I knew. Would it make a difference? No. Probably not. I am confused. His ramblings his contradictions to the Faith and other things. Confused.

The Bear doesn't know, but it's probably going to take several months to adjust to this new style. He hopes you will bear with his commas, and his adverbs, and all the rest of the crazy stuff he includes in his ephemeris.


  1. I strongly prefer your normal style!

    1. Well, there you go. All in good fun, though. I haven't even seen my edited version, yet. It's good to have someone put different eyes on it, who understands publishing.

  2. Owl sometimes likes to see how many nested clauses he can cram into a sentence. Tangles are fun.

    You do have to know your audience, though. If you are writing a mass market paperback...well you are going to have to appeal to the masses.

    But then again, I think a good author should make your reader jump for the bar with their sentence structure.

    Great Bear's writing is why I am here.

    1. Thanks. Always willing to learn. I have thought about my style, for I recognize I have one, for better or worse. One element is the trial lawyer. In court, you shape the narrative through pacing. If it got down to someone witnessing the act of murder, for example, the witness will always say, "I saw him shoot Jane Doe." I didn't want that. There is neither detail nor drama.

      So I would always say, "Okay, let's rewind the tape (guess that dates my practice) and start again. Where were you. "In the house." "Let's back up. Exactly where in the house were you." I would tack on detail after detail, taking a small step closer to the witness with every quick question. Ny the time I was right in front of them, I was ready to ask the most important question. But never to the witness. The most important question always saw a 90 degree turn as I gave my full attention to the jury, joining them, psychologically (as well as seeing their reaction.)

      To my knowledge, this technique was unique to me, but I was always thinking about style. So your style must vary to adjust the reader's sense of time. I spend a whole paragraph describing a table in a bar, lyrically. Why? I want to slow the reader down and make him think, uh oh, something big is about to happen.

      But then, in the next chapter, police are responding to something. Each sentence is short. Many single-paragraph sentences. "18, 10-4.") ("20, en route.") Boom, chop, stab. Quick as bunnies. I'm creating excitement, moving things along breathlessly.

      It works because it is a contrast to the other.

      I also look at films. I watch scenes, and, as a writer, I'm constantly amazed at picture painted by the image, and think about how difficult that is to capture on a page. If I might overwrite, that is probably the reason.

      If someone shoots a gun, I want the reader to smell the cordite (as they say). I want characters to be deafened by the gunshots. I want them to smell the blood and their eyes to tear from the smoke. What is the shooter's stance? What are his targets doing? (Which means "why?" but I don't want to write that part). Where are the shell casings landing? Does the shooter magically know how many shells he's run through the Remington 870? No. If he has any sense, he's going to count his ammo when he gets a break. But what I don't do is get inside the shooter's head. I should be able to show that.

      To Have and Have Not was the first picture with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. How the heck would you wrote that scene where they first meet? Very little dialogue, all with the eyes. When I'm writing, I'm watching a movie. it I always a challenge to put the reader where I want him, When I think of the famous, "You know how to whistle?" scene, where Bogart and Bacall practically have sex when the only thing on the retinas of the audience is a woman lighting a cigarette and two people looking at each other... Different medium. But, that's how I work. I would probably try to describe that first meeting, and, essentially, I do, in a way.

      It's tough answering the question: "Who would read this?" I don't know. The genres are scrambled. People who like urban fantasy aren't necessarily going to be interested in Catholic sin treated seriously. And vice-versa. I wonder what a Charles Williams elevator pitch would sound like. "Well, you see, the platonic archetypes beging to- Platonic archetypes! You know! Well they, begin to- You mean you've never heard of these?"

  3. Well I love your writing style. I don't know if it's how you write or what you are writing about that I enjoy so much, but I do enjoy it. It's visual, and humorous, and unexpected. Whatever it is, it's good. After pondering it, I think I may like it because it's conversational, it's like you're talking, but it's print. I write like that, so I think I recognize it. I could be wrong. What does a squirrel know.
    But I like your usual style as opposed to. This. Younger readers can't read as well as we..uh..experienced readers. That's a fact, they can't. They are accustomed to tweets of 140 characters and just can't do it. So. They. Read. Like. This. Yikes. We experienced readers are accustomed to complex sentences with flippin commas. Even semi-colons! Colons!

    1. Thank you! Yes, I, too, feel like I'm having a conversation. That's one of the reasons I delight in the comment section. Obviously, the style that's good for a blog can't be ported directly to a novel. So while I am coping with the editing process, which no author enjoys, through some humor, I do understand why it is beneficial, and educational to me.

      Editing is like waking up naked in a tub packed in ice missing a kidney. You know its necessary, but...

      BTW, if you want something from me, you are going to have to really email me with your email client? Okay? I can't get your email address from whatever Blogger sends me.

    2. Even though I am a slug, what Kathleen the squirrel says is right on! Gosh, even the Bible has some long sentences.

  4. Never fear, the Bear is just joking around and relieving his nervousness through humor. What edits I've seen do not change my style at all, do not fear. The Bear is well-treated and I'm sure any concerns will be taken respectfully.

  5. Was that supposed to be Hemingway* or Trump?

    * "The Old Man and the See"?

    1. Now that would be a story:
      "The Old Bear and the See"

      Bear challenges Francis to a fishing contest.


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