Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 8/8/17

The first draft is finished. The ending made me laugh out loud. Every time I read it, I still think it's funny. That's never a bad thing.

Everything about this story that was in my head is out on paper. Now, the real work begins.

The first draft is always the easy part. You type up the story, plot, characters, character development, incidents and accidents, hints and allegations. Once everything is out there, it gets harder. Now I have to make sure it all makes sense.

Editing usually takes longer. I'll always read bits and pieces while writing the first draft, but you have to really read it during the editing stage. I might just read it all the way through, making minor changes along the way, and then go back and start to work on it in more detail.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 8/7/17

The last chapter takes place over a much longer period of time than most of the other chapters. I knew that a lot of things were going to happen, and the last thing I wanted was to have an enormous final chapter. If it's slightly longer than other chapters, I can live with that. If it's five times longer than any of the others, that would bother me.

So I changed the pace. In other chapters, scenes move from one to the next without any big announcements. In this chapter, time flies. The words “two weeks passed” or “a month later” are nowhere to be found, but it should be clear that time has marched on.

Accelerating the pace of the narrative actually made me type faster. I don't know if having a longer, drawn out chapter makes me type slower, but the faster the action moves, the faster I type. Psychologically, I'm sure it's the other way around.

The only downside to cramming so much into a single chapter is that it is currently the shortest chapter of the entire book. In an effort to keep it from being the longest, I went in the opposite direction. I don't mind if it stays the shortest. There's nothing wrong with that. But I might have condensed too much.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 8/6/17

I wrote a phone conversation today. That was more interesting than I expected. It's just dialogue, but it's only one side of the conversation. The trick is to give the reader a general idea of the other end of the conversation without spelling it out.

The lazy way would be to have the character say something like, “No, I don't know what color the car was.” Obviously, the unseen character on the other end of the phone asked about a car's color. But how many people would answer like that? “Do you know what color the car was?” “No, I don't know what color the car was.” Who would answer it that way, other than a character in a Quentin Tarantino movie.*

I think it's far more interesting to have characters speak however they would speak. Readers will only get one side of the conversation, but a little common sense should tell you what's being said. If I were writing an internet article, I'd probably have to make it more obvious, but this is for a book. I hope I never see the day when books about adult stories are forced to fit in with the Highlights demographic.

* Quentin Tarantino dialogue is pretty repetitive. Here are the reasons Quentin Tarantino dialogue is repetitive. The first and foremost reason Quentin Tarantino dialogue is repetitive is because he likes to have characters repeat what they just said. The second, though no less important, reason Quentin Tarantino dialogue is repetitive is because he likes the way it sounds when characters repeat what they just said.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 8/2/17

Chapter 19 is almost entirely a single conversation about making a sex tape.

If you made a sex tape to become famous, what would you do with it? The most popular sex tapes are “leaked”, which generates interest, which gets them distributed. But those are from people who are already famous. If one of the Game of Thrones actresses makes a “home movie” that gets “stolen” from her “cell phone”, she won't have to worry about how to get it seen. Everyone will know about it.

If the actress who played Student with Backpack #3 on an episode of a teen comedy TV show wants to get her sex tape out there, what does she do? She's not famous, so her leaked tape isn't going to generate any interest in the tabloids. If she had a good agent or PR team to generate buzz, she wouldn't resort to making a sex tape.

Put it online, you say. That's where sex tapes belong. Ok, but how does that make the woman in them famous? There are millions of not safe for anywhere videos online. There are websites where you can post videos of women changing, taking a shower, having sex or even using the toilet, no questions asked. I don't think the people who run those sites are too concerned about invading anyone's privacy. All that matters to them is traffic to their site. I doubt the people who watch the videos care about any of the names of the people involved or whether or not they agreed to be filmed.

So the question is, if unstable people make sex tapes to become famous, how does it make them famous?

Video Killed the Radio Star
The Buggles

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 8/1/17

There is a restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard west of the 405 freeway called Cafe 50's. The name drives me crazy. Since it is a 1950s themed restaurant, with 1950s decorations on the wall, soda fountains and waitresses in ugly diner uniforms, it should be Cafe '50s. The apostrophe before the decade replaces the century – 1950s becomes '50s. Doesn't everyone know that?

No one cares about grammar on Facebook, but this is a business. Not only does the sign over their door read “Cafe 50's”, but so do their menus and everything on their website. They are saying that it belongs to Cafe 50. I really don't think that's what they mean.

I don't know how accurate their '50s theme is. I was born long after, as I'm sure were most of the customers and people who work there. But it's a restaurant, so it doesn't have to be historically accurate. But is it too much to ask that a '50s themed business know the difference between the '50s and 50's?

Sometimes you have to do a lot of research when you write a book. Since this one takes place in Los Angeles, I've had to look up a lot of streets and landmarks. I've been to the city, but the more I look into it, the more I realize how much of it I never knew.

Something I don't have to research are the plays and playwrights I'm mentioning. One of the characters is from New York and is more familiar with Broadway than Sunset. That gives me the chance to drop a few names that don't normally come up.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 7/30/17

Sunset Boulevard, the street and the movie, plays an important role in chapter 18. I wrote a scene that takes place while two of the characters are watching the movie. They start to pay less attention to the movie and concentrate more on what they're doing, but I describe what's happening in the movie while they're doing whatever they're doing.

After I wrote the scene, it occurred to me that I haven't actually watched Sunset Boulevard in a long time. The tiny bits of the movie I described might not happen when I think they do. That could be embarrassing.

There was a time when I could have gone down to Blockbuster and rented Sunset Boulevard. That's not going to work today. Fortunately, there's Youtube. Unfortunately, Youtube users generally don't care about violating copyright laws.

I found the entire movie just sitting out there without any of the people who worked on it earning any money. That worked out for me since I could watch it and make sure I knew what I was talking about. If Billy Wilder were still alive, maybe I'd send him a quarter to make up for the royalties he lost when I watched his movie for free.

In the end, my memory was pretty good. The two scenes that I referenced were in the right order, but they were a lot shorter than I remembered. I also completely forgot that Buster Keaton was in it. His scene is short, but I need to find a way to work him into my story. I already have an idea for Charlie Chaplin. It makes sense to put in a little Buster Keaton.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 7/27/17

I have a few scenes in this story about reality TV shows. I'm not a fan, but some of the characters get involved with a couple of different shows. The first show has someone from one religion live with a family of another religion. The Mormon lives with a Jewish family, the Muslim lives with a Catholic family. The more I type, the stupider it sounds. And it's supposed to. It's reality TV.

The second reality TV show is more conventional. Single people go on three dates. If the person they choose after the three dates also chooses them, they're back for the next round. Any dates that don't choose each other or don't choose anyone are eliminated.

In a lot of ways, that's even worse than the religion show. Going out on a first date is hard enough. No matter how you met the person, the odds of success are remote. Most first dates might not end in hilarious disaster, but they don't lead to a second date. Imagine having a first date in front of a TV crew. The more it's staged, the easier it would be. But if it were actual reality, that would have to be a terrible first date.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 7/25/17

I wrote a scene about two of the characters trying to make an online video go viral. I guess that answers the question on whether this story should be contemporary or set in the recent past. Did they have viral videos in the 1990s? I'm guessing no.

There are a few other mentions of people using computers, but we had those in the '90s. They were just very different from today's computers. And no one kept them in their pockets or took self portraits with them.

I think I mentioned a cell phone at one point. But that could be any time after the '80s. Cell phones were not nearly as smart in the '90s, but I never wrote anything about anyone taking pictures of their dinner for Facebook. I think I had them talking on the phone as if it was a phone. That sounds more like the past than the present.

I'm pretty much torn at this point. I want the story to take place in the past. The story wants to take place in the present.

Ancient technology

Monday, July 24, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 7/24/17

If you're an actress invited to the Golden Globe Awards, what do you wear? I'd be tempted to just pick something out of my closet or, more likely, borrow something from my roommate. But it turns out there are a few rules you're supposed to follow.

If you're going to be walking down the red carpet, someone will send you a list of designers who want their latest collection to be seen. Naturally, there is a hierarchy. Nominees get a longer list than presenters, who get a longer list than A-list invitees, who get a longer list than all those people no one recognizes. If you are a nominee, you get first dibs, and might even get a famous designer to make something specifically for you – assuming everyone expects you to win. The greater your chances of screen time, the more the designers are interested. If your name is Meryl Streep or Jennifer Lawrence, they might even pay you to wear their newest dress.

Once you've decided on a few designers, they will send several options out to you. The higher up you are on the food chain, the more options you have. Once a nominee or presenter has chosen a dress, no one else will ever see it. They've been doing these awards shows for decades. They know how to keep any two people from wearing the same thing. Even if you ignore the designers and pick something out of your closet, you have to clear it with the show before anyone steps on the red carpet.

Sharon Stone wore jeans and a t-shirt to an awards show one year. Not only did that freak a lot of people out, but it pissed off the show's producers because she was scheduled to wear something else. There were no duplicate outfits. No one else showed up in jeans and a t-shirt, but she broke protocol. Coincidentally, she is not as famous as she used to be.

They never dress like this anymore.
It wouldn't get enough Twitter likes.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 7/23/17

My original plan was to title each chapter with the city or neighborhood in Los Angeles where the chapter takes place. Los Angeles is almost a character in this story, so that makes sense to me. Several chapters will take place in the same location, but there are ways around that. A chapter at UCLA does not have to be called “Westwood” if there is another chapter in Westwood.

But then I wrote chapter 17. There is a Paul Simon song that would be perfect for the chapter title. Not only does the title work, but the character in the song shares a few similar traits with one of the characters in the chapter.

Song titles are not copyrighted. Anyone can use them, as long as they are not trademarked. Most song titles could never be copyrighted even if the songwriter wanted them to be. Glenn Frey and Jackson Browne could never copyright the phrase “Take It Easy”. Some titles are completely unique, like “Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band”, but still not copyrighted. Anyone can use that title, unless it's trademarked. If you're a songwriter, you can write a song called “Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band”. No one ever does, for obvious reasons. Every single critic in the world would compare your song with the original. That's not a position you want to put yourself in.

Rather than think about other songs for all the other chapters, I'll simply keep my original plan for chapter 17. It's a shame, but I'm sure Paul Simon won't mind.

Take It Easy

Stranded In a Limousine
Paul Simon