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Monday, October 31, 2011

And Then Anton Chekhov Said . . .

In his advice to playwrights, Anton Chekhov suggested that “Declarations of love, the infidelity of husbands and wives; widows, orphans and all other tears, have long since been written up. The subject ought to be new, but there need be no ‘fable.’ And the main thing is - father and mother must eat. (Therefore) Write. Flies purify the air, and plays - the morals.”

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Important Writing Principle #17: Precision

To be precise in writing doesn’t mean that you simply use your Thesaurus. Precision paints a sharper picture in the mind’s eye of the reader. Authors visualize the scene they are writing down to the last detail. Unfortunately, this picture doesn’t always transmit to the reader. The author assumes the reader will see the details, when in reality, it is the reverse.
Some authors try to make their writing more precise by making it wordier. This usually doesn’t work, and the writing becomes heavy, stagnant - without movement.
There is a trick that I use that will help you to be more precise in what you want to say. I call it the Triangle of Precision. Imagine a triangle, sitting with the point up. The point represents a scene with the least amount of detail, i.e. “She took me home in her vehicle.” Vehicle is the word at the apex of the triangle. As we fill in information about the vehicle, we begin to descend the triangle, filling in larger areas. Vehicle becomes car. Car becomes an Audi. An Audi becomes an A6, etc, until you are at the bottom of the triangle and the sentence now reads: “She took me home in her brand new 2012 metallic blue A6 Audi, custom built with tan leather seats, a wooden dash and so many steel-aluminum parts that it made me feel like I was sitting in a can of tuna fish."

Here is a ‘before/after scene from my mystery/thriller The Deal Master that will further illustrate the advantages of the Precision Triangle.

Draft: "Vinnie sat in a chair in the center of Gillette’s office. A spotlight cast deep shadows around him. It looked like a scene from a movie."
After rewrites: "Like a scene from a movie, Vinnie sat up straight in a chair in the center of Gillette’s office. A spotlight over his head cast deep, dark shadows that looked like large black holes under his eyes, his cheeks and his feet. The blinds were drawn, the door was closed, and the rest of the room was in total darkness."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Movie "The Trip" (2010)

In the movie, “The Trip,” Michael Winterbottom’s 2010 comedy, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon advance the ‘Buddie Trip’ to a whole new intellectual and philosophical level.
At the start, Steven, an actor, accepts the job of reviewing up-scale restaurants in Northern England. He accepts this assignment, thinking it would be a great way for him and his girlfriend to enjoy a romantic getaway. However, girlee can’t make it because she’s gone to the U.S. hunting for a job and presumably to sort out her relationship with Stevie, so Steven calls on his ‘sort of’ buddy Rob to accompany him.
Between dueling impersonations, mindless eating and the obvious failings of a middle-aged celebrity ‘wannabe,’ “The Trip” contains an important underlying message. Hey, don’t expect me to reveal it; watch the movie. Besides, I’m too busy practicing my Michael Caine impersonation. The acting is superb, the scenery is marvelous and the score fits in perfectly. My rating: B+ Have you seen this movie? What do you think of it?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Important Principle of Writing #12: The Definition of Writing

Understanding What Writing Is: This is the first step towards writing well.
What is writing?
Definition: Writing is words in relationship.

A word in relation to nothing. (Help); A word in relation to itself (reflective) (to wash, to wake, to stop); A word in relation to a word next to it ( I awoke.) or (She smiled.); A word in relation to other words in a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter, a story, or a novel.
Understanding this concept, you will begin to understand the power of words and the importance of the choice of words to use. There are many young writers who believe that more words equals better writing. This is not the case. It is the relationship of each word to other words that gives writing its importance. As an exercise, fiction writer should write poetry. This will help to understand the importance of choosing the right word to express thought with economy.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Who is Your Favorite Author?

We all have our favorite authors. Do you know where your fav lies on the all time “Author Best Seller List?”  You may be surprised who is on top, just under the Bible and Willie Shakespeare. If you guessed it was Agatha Christie, you’d be right. 4 BILLION books sold. Yikes!

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Speaking about dogs: did I tell you that I am working on a top secret book project that's all about dogs? No? Well now you know. More news to follow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Maine Lobster – Do you know . . .

Maine is the lobster capital of the world. Here, we have the sweetest, juiciest and finest lobsters anywhere. Mainers are proud of this fact and take lobster fishing very seriously. The most recent figures published indicate that in 2009 there were over 72 million pounds of lobster caught off the Maine coast, valued at over 297 million dollars.

Even though Maine lobsters are consumed by millions of people all over the world, little is know about our Homarus americanus (American lobster.) Let me share a few little-known lobster facts that you can ponder the next time you dig into these succulent crustaceans.

Lobsters love the colder waters you find around the Maine coast. However, I have witnessed them hanging out in some of the bars in the Old Port in Portland, too. They molt 2-3 times a year while juvenile, but only once a year when fully mature (about 4 to 7 years old.) In the first two weeks after molting, lobsters are very vulnerable because their new shells are so soft they can’t move very fast, or defend themselves. Their natural predator is the codfish. There are others, too - haddock flounder and other lobsters.

Lobsters are not the scavengers everyone makes them out to be. They eat live food, consisting of fish, mollusks, other crustaceans, worms and some plant life.

Lobsters can live for more than 100 years. They can get big, too. The largest lobster weighed in at over 44 lbs. They come in a variety of colors, including red, blue, green purple and yellow.

Lobsters have a brain the size of a grasshopper’s. They have two different size claws; a crusher and a pincher. A lobster’s teeth are in its stomach.

Here’s one other lobster fact that you should be aware of: I make the best sterling silver lobster in the country. It has movable claws with hidden hinges. The claws are different sizes, (remember crusher and pincher?) There are ten different pieces that must be assembled to create this lobster and it takes me three weeks to complete the job. The details are exquisite. I often sell this lobster to lobster fishermen, here in Maine, and if there's one thing you should know about lobster fishermen in Maine: it's that they’re very particular when it comes to lobsters!

Log onto  and click the jewelry logo to see my lobster, and other sea and nautical jewelry that I create. Oh yeah, check out the diamond rings, too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Caché; The Film That Hides the Truth!

Caché (Hidden) is Michael Haneke’s 2005 fascinating, award-winning film in which the director builds up electrifying tension through heightened contrast coupled with the fear of the unknown.
The serene Parisian family life of Georges (Daniel Auteuil), his wife Anne (Juliette Binoche), and their twelve year-old son Pierrot is contrasted by the turmoil stemming from the arrival of a haunting videocassette recording of the family’s comings and goings. The cassette mysteriously showed up on the family’s doorstep. More arrive at different times. At first, the recordings appear to be a harmless prank, but when the cassettes are accompanied by strange drawings of mutilated animals and stick figures with blood pouring from them, the family begins to worry.
As the film continues we learn that along with this horror the family is, in many ways, dysfunctional. The husband does not communicate with his wife, nor share his feelings with her. Ann has her own secrets. There are hints throughout the movie that she may be carrying on an affair with a friend. Pierrot, always on the edge of the action, gives the impression of being rebellious and spiteful. Each member of this family holds secrets that accelerate the conflict and fan the flames of self sabotage.
What are the secrets you keep hidden? What do you hide from your family and friends, your lover or your spouse? Are the truths you hide more dangerous than those you reveal? Is it better to keep them secret? Do you try to hide them from yourself?
It’s time to spill the beans . . .