The Big Lebowski

by rob on August 17, 2014

I was watching a documentary called “The Achievers” which is about fans of the movie “The Big Lebowski.”

There are events out together that are called Lebowski Fests where fans get together have costume contests, recite lines from the movie and generally just bond with each other, all around a movie which did really poorly at the box office, but then went on to become a ‘cult classic.’

pinsSo why am I talking about The Big Lebowski and Lebowski Fest? Well, number one, the Coen brothers are masters at what they do. They write character based movies that people either love or hate. Either one is okay with me, as eliciting emotions is what writing is all about. Love and hate are strong emotions. No one wants someone to be indifferent about their work. There is enough ennui in the word.

But the real reason (number two, if you are keeping track) is a tidbit; a throw-away line in the documentary. This is paraphrased, but basically someone said that Coen brothers movies are all about “someone having a problem and solving it in a horribly bad wrong way.” And off you go.

So think about that for a second. The character relationships are hugely important. When I do improv, I was taught that the best scenes are about two or more characters who are somewhere (doesn’t matter where) and they have a real connection, a relationship, and the background ends up being just that. The characters aren’t talking about their cutlery if they are in a kitchen (unless the cutlery is just a metaphor for how they feel about each other – maybe one is sharp and one is dull?)

The scene, the background, is just a setting. The relationship is what makes you care, but the plot is about a problem.

A problem can be something simple. Your mother hates me and it impacts our relationship.

How do you solve this problem?

a) You sit with your mother-in-law and have a discussion and try to hash out your differences. Boring (but likely in the real world)

b) You divorce your wife, so you lose the MIL problem.

c) You buy your MIL an around the world vacation and arrange a rendezvous with a foreign lover, so she moves to Paris and becomes a seldom dealt with fly in your marriage ointment. While in Paris she gets kidnapped by the lover’s incensed ex-mistress, and you have to go rescue her and realize she is an interesting person. You fell in love with her and divorce your wife and now you have  a DIL who hates you.

I don’t know that that plot really works, but the point is, you have a problem that is solved in a way that is abnormal and then the solution drives the movie (or the book.)

What drives your writing? What is the plot point or points that sets your book apart? What makes your voice something that people want to revisit?

I don’t know how the Coen brothers do it, but this little piece certainly got me to thinking. Hope it does the same to you.

Happy bowling, my little Lebowski urban achievers!

Behind the scenes look at the Coen brothers and the Big Lebowski here.  (affiliate link. thanks for clicking)

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Write What You Know

by rob on August 10, 2014

It may sound like a cliche, but write what you know, or research until you truly know a subject inside and out. Live it, if possible.

When I wrote my first novel, Someone Else’s Tomorrow, I set most of the book inside a quirky little restaurant, El Pollo Loco. (Years later a restaurant opened with this exact name. )

One reason I did so was because I worked in a restaurant in college for about a year. I knew the backside of the restaurant business. (Yes,eggs2 backside. It fits, believe me.) I don’t know how to run a restaurant, but I know employee habits and how things get set up and turned over. One of the comments I got from numerous people was how they recognized the little details that I included.

When I included things like breakfast prep work I had no idea that people would recognize the truth in the actions I was typing about. It just was part of the scene.

So this isn’t to say you can’t write sci-fi, or about a foreign country, but do research and keep the details true to things you do know. Most writing really is about relationships, not the background, so good fiction or good science fiction is about people and how they inter-react.

Keep writing and honing your craft and keep it real.

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Lot 23 Zombie Romantic Comedy

July 16, 2014

What do you do to promote book sales? This is a part of the process that presents challenges. We are creative people; we think, we write, we publish. We wait for sales to start pouring in. But really for unknown authors the sales aren’t going to just pour in. They trickle in, at best, and […]

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The Big Other

June 4, 2014

There is only one thing that makes a read (or a movie) interesting and that is the challenges to the hero. Usually these are in the form of problems he or she needs to solve and there is one problem which stands out as the ‘mother’ of all. That is the “Big Other.” If you […]

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On Set – Bite Nite

May 17, 2014

I wrote this a few years ago when I was on the set of an independent movie. I played the priest. I capture small vignettes of circumstances. You never know when the thoughts of that moment might come back and be useful. Maybe they will come into play down the road or maybe they might […]

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Rewriting and Reviewing

May 3, 2014

I was talking with a friend of mine, name of Isabella, who is in the process of writing her first book. Her mother had asked me to take a look and give her some advice; words of wisdom or something along those lines. Isabella has written about, oh, I don’t know, maybe thirty pages and […]

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Developing Character Profiles

February 20, 2014

I belong to several writer’s groups; some online and some that ‘meet-up’ at coffee shops and bookstores. Although I don’t participate in person very often I feel that online forums and emails sometimes help in the writing process and lately my one meetup group has been having a discussion on character development. A problem many […]

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This one weird trick to write a book fast

December 4, 2013

As the author of five books and a former ghostwriter I know a lot of ways to get quality writing done quickly, but most people don’t ever consider this one weird trick on how to write a book fast. It’s an old trick which pre-dates computers and even word processors and it has been used […]

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Blaze Motors – Some Secrets Don’t Stay Buried

November 26, 2013

Blaze Motors is my second novel and is available on Amazon. There is a pretty interesting back story to this and that is the reason that I am sharing. All good stories have some basis in truth. I think that humans can tell when a story is fake and it ruins things for us. Even […]

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Kindling and How to do Kindle Right

November 8, 2013

I don’t do much promotional stuff here, you may have noticed. This site is more about writing and techniques for organization and thought processes. There is a reason for that. Down and dirty how to use Amazon’s Kindle for publication is covered in my book Write Here, Write Now, No Excuses. So no need to […]

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