A Tale of Two Presidents
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of life-saving medical advancement, it was the age of life-taking weapons of mass destruction; it was the spring of freedom of choice, it was the winter of poverty and oppression. It was the weekend when a group of kids got together to celebrate my boy’s fifth birthday, it was the weekend when Vladimir Putin called Barack Obama to discuss World War Three.
You, me, us. We need to stop the shit so that every child on this planet can enjoy every birthday to a ripe old age.
Jonathan K Benton
Please note: Charles Dickens’s brilliant first paragraph in A Tale of Two Cities (read it here) kicks all other opening paragraphs out of the literary ball park. His words are as a relevant today as they were 200 hundred years ago.
Yesterday was one of my most productive days yet, and I didn’t write a single word. I sat in a café with two extremely talented individuals discussing our respective manuscripts. Discussing ideas is important – I now have a fresh and exciting twist on a new demon world. One of my main protagonists has been dressed appropriately, taking into account her personality, and her needs. Parts of the dialogue will be strengthened too. A fresh set of eyes and a different perspective – these things are invaluable when writing a manuscript. Don’t be too precious about your work. Share ideas and the manuscript will grow.
Thought for the week:
This is worrying. Click here. Many theories are disproven. Some theories become fact. Population is a problem. We don’t yet have the technology to support our burgeoning numbers. I believe we’ll work something out. We’ve proven ourselves to be remarkably resourceful, as the astronauts of Apollo 13 showed on their dramatic return to Earth. The fact they left Earth at all earns us a gold star in ingenuity. Let’s not wait until we’re forced to save ourselves, though. Let’s do something about it now.
Jonathan K Benton
I was sitting at the computer thinking about the past – as long as I don’t dwell on it, the past is a great place from which to draw inspiration. I suddenly remembered a song a friend introduced me to a long time ago. I’ve never been cool (although I try my best to convince my boys otherwise). People would question my sanity if I wore Pharrell Williams’s Grammy hat. Look at me, and I blush. Speak to me, and I jump. I possess very little fashion sense and own a mobile phone so old people often mistake it for a baby’s toy. But while I sat listening to this song, and no matter how uncool I am in reality, I felt damn cool.
Sit back, close your eyes, click on this link and enjoy five minutes and ten seconds of sleepy coolness.
Jonathan K Benton
This one is subjective, but I hear it lot, and it works for me. Don’t edit the first draft until you’ve finished it. Write your story from beginning to end – smash it out. Don’t worry about sentence structure and beautiful images. These things can be polished into the novel at a later date. If you get bogged down, write some ‘he did’ ‘she did’ sentences to move your mind out of the mental quagmire. Then continue with the story. Flesh out the gaps on subsequent drafts. As I said, it works for me.
Thought for the week
I spent three weeks in New Zealand last year. My father and his partner have a bach at Matarangi on the Coromandel Peninsula. Kiwis refer to their holiday homes as baches. Matarangi is the type of place where you can play cricket on the road or sit on the long white surf beach believing you’re it – that there’s nobody else on the planet. I can’t remember seeing more than four people at a time on the pearly Matarangi sands. Then I took my family back to Auckland stopping at several boutique cafes serving top shelf cuisine and superior coffee. My mum lives in Tindalls Bay. This idyllic seaside suburb boasts a beach protected from the ocean swells and therefore perfect for my firstborn boy (No. 2 was just a twinkle in his parents’ eyes at the time).
I am a Kiwi living in Australia. My partner is an Aussie, our sons wear the green and gold too. I’m outnumbered three to one in my household. I love Australia – it is my home and I consider it a privilege to be able to live here. But I was filled with pride when I returned to New Zealand. The Land of the Long White Cloud is one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. If you haven’t been, you’re missing out.
Jonathan K Benton
Two weeks ago I enjoyed another exhausting day pouring through my half-finished manuscript with Joelene, the talented young woman helping me with my writing. I also had the pleasure of reading some of her own exciting work. She mentioned the term ‘messy writing’. I think it’s something all writers should know about. Messy writing makes the story believable. It’s the character driving the plot, rather than the protagonist being dragged along by a series of set pieces.
Barry loved taking his dog, Boof, for a walk. Boof needed a leash because he loved chasing other dogs. He liked chasing humans too. Then the leash broke forcing Barry to drive to the local pet shop. The pet shop had sold out. The owner suggested that Barry should make the trip to Sid’s Pet Bizarre in the next borough. Barry drove to the bizarre and bought a perfectly good leash.
Barry loved taking his dog, Boof, for a walk. Boof needed a leash because he loved chasing other dogs. He liked chasing humans too. Then the leash broke forcing Barry to drive to the local pet shop. The pet shop had sold out. The owner suggested that Barry should make the trip to Sid’s Pet Bizarre in the next borough. Frustrated that the pet shop had sold out of leashes, and knowing that a drive to the next borough would swallow a large part of his day, Barry decided to ask his beautiful neighbour, Karen, if she had a spare leash. Karen loved dogs – she owned two huskies. Perhaps they could walk their dogs together.
In example two, Barry took matters into his own hand. He didn’t do what the pet shop owner suggested. He used his initiative. This opened up opportunity. Let’s hope Barry and Karen fell in love and lived happily ever after, until the end of time!
Messy writing takes the story in unexpected directions driven by the choices made by the protagonist. The protagonist’s personality should be considered when making these choices.
Thoughts for the week:
Ukraine. I still believe that most people want to live peacefully. Click here. Sometimes, however, it seems like humanity is self-destructing. Is it just the media, or are world leaders sabre rattling rather than throwing their collective wisdom into helping the citizens of Ukraine achieve a peaceful resolution? I’m sick of bullies – the people of Ukraine are suffering.
Roger Federer. Federer won the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships last night. Check out this gorgeous Federeresque (surely this word deserves a place in the dictionary) drop shot. He makes it look so easy. Click here.