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Papa Cosa
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Posted: 11 April 2006 at 4:07pm | IP Logged Quote Papa Cosa

 

  Depression could be switched with a hurricane.  Same end result for people in the path of the storm...nada.  Just my two cents.

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hijo
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Posted: 11 April 2006 at 11:59pm | IP Logged Quote hijo

Mark: actually, Papa C makes an extremely good point - while the Great Depression did indeed destroy lives, and almost the world - as it was world wide, don't forget, not just here - and gave rise to Fascism and other isms touted as better than that which brought the world to its precipice, it is more and more remote as far as readers are concerned.

I'd vote for a Katrina-like scenario, where people who were proud of living in a wonderful, historic place are at first uprooted, displaced (assuming they left) and now encouraged to move back. Not to mention having grown up believing help would arrive as soon as possible, with the 7th Calvary's trumpets being heard even as hope is lost...

The theme is pretty strong. Have you read "IronWeed"? And how would you make yours different?

Ecclesiastes talks about how everything you do has been done before, and how works of man are constantly being destroyed. Ultimately, it suggests, mankind builds things not for itself - like creating art - but for "the glory of God."

Why start over is usually the question. What else can you do, is usually the answer. As long as you're alive.

Even as a screenplay, I like the idea of relating it to more recent circumstances (which will inturn be outdated assuming you write it well enough to survive well into the future). You could research New Orleans probably more easily before and after, or somewhere less well publicized, and set it there.

Then again, the same thing happens when people get laid off suddenly from something like making autos or steel, and are too old to "retrain," and don't have pensions or worse, health insurance, and are suddenly faced with bankrupting bills.

In a sense, the real story of the Great Depression is how people didn't go insane, or rebuilt a life, or found different lives, like my own parents who started out as factory workers and wound up professors of anthropology.

Or like my grandmother, who was so used to being taken care of by her father she thought he gave her two gold coins to buy a new fur coat when he had given them to her to give to her kids to buy what they really wanted while they were working in factories supporting their mother...

The problem with stories set in time periods distantly from your own, or your own experience, is that others may have already written them, or yours may have been a great novel for the time, but its time is not even a memory for most people.

I always vote for "go with what you know." Like I suggested before, write your story about the affects of catastrophic loss. Don't worry about when or where until you have the story written. Then tweak it with some location/time setting details...

Larry: 15 or so sounds great. Query first. I'm told these days most don't like to get a manuscript until they show interest. Also, try and get a writer with an agent to either read your story or recommend it to their agent, or recommend an agent to you.

Best,
hijo
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Papa Cosa
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Posted: 12 April 2006 at 11:58am | IP Logged Quote Papa Cosa

 

  Thanks hijo.

  A query letter and the first three chapters are required by the agents I'm sending my manuscript to.  I don't know any professional writers down here(besides myself - ha ha).  Seriously, I've been thinking of giving it to a writer who will be here on fri.  Tim Dorsey is a Florida writer and I figured I may give it a shot but then I think I best not bother him.  I don't know. 

  I've gotten good feedback from my wife (always brutally honest), an old friend(too honest) and Papa Doble.  They all liked what they read and PD read half of it.  I'm confident in my work like never before.  It's funny though - I was trying to determine the kind of book it was and it was difficult.  I wanted to put lierary but settled with contemporary/mainstream.

  Larry

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hijo
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Posted: 12 April 2006 at 4:56pm | IP Logged Quote hijo

Larry: basically, all anyone needs is a pretty nice synopsis. A writer friend is recommending his agent look at my latest based on my description of it - he hasn't read it (won't have time for a while considering busy with his own stuff).

So my query letter will essentially consist of "Dear so-and-so, (Insert Name Of Famous Writer Using Same Agent) suggested I contact you to consider reading my latest novel..."

Personally, mine doesn't fit any category I've read descriptions of, though it has elements of several. What category to place it in ultimately (as in who might publish it and why) strikes me as the agent's responsibility. Your responsibility is to write something the agent thinks they can sell, and let them go on from there.

Or so is my theory after 2-3 agents who couldn't sell anything I gave them (though they were all very encouraging and willing to read most of the stuff).

You want an agent who wants to promote your writing because they like it and they see promise in a longer-term relationship. It's kind of like dating, I guess. Your query is suggesting the first date, and their reading your work is sort of dinner. Then the ball's in their court to decide whether to go out with you or not...

Best of luck, of course. Perhaps we'll see you (hopefully) in the review columns with our books side-by-side

hijo
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Papa Cosa
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Posted: 12 April 2006 at 5:10pm | IP Logged Quote Papa Cosa

 

  Best of luck, of course. Perhaps we'll see you (hopefully) in the review columns with our books side-by-side

 

  Someday.  I'm sure we will.

 

 

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MarkCianfrani2
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Posted: 13 April 2006 at 1:08am | IP Logged Quote MarkCianfrani2

hijo,

this is what I was thinking so far. I really want to base this on perspectives and try to give the audience a different point of view. I want to have two characters... a kid roughly around age 16 and a man in his mid thirties. I wanted to have the man seem arrogant, but still have the audience be able to relate to him and sympathize for him. He has a respectable job and earns a more than decent income until he loses everything (soemthing happens to him, not sure what yet). He slowly finds himself unprepared for the sudden change in his life and gradually his mind turns more into that of a criminal's as he becomes to realize how random and cruel the world really is. the other character represents youth... dealing with problems one at 16 normally would. he experiences a conflict (unsure as to what yet) and throughout his story he is constantly hinting that he wants to do something with his life.. it wants it to have meaning. now, after the kid resolves his conflict is when he and the man cross paths. The man, at this point, has completely lost it and the two meet in a subway. The man ends up murdering the kid for some reason he has convinced himself was right. It isnt untila fter he murders the kid that the man truely realizes he has been criminal all along. I'm really sorry if this is hard to understand.. I'm really new at this and I'm kind of just writing as I go (I have given this plot a lot of thought though, dont get me wrong). I really just wanted the kid's death to be very random.. simply he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time... you hear about this kind of stuff all the time... people are always crossing paths with the wrong people. I also wanted the story to start out with the climax.. where the man kills the kid so at first glance.. the audience associates the man as a deranged lunatic with no heart... but then I wanted to show them that he was just an ordinary man.. who lost sight of his goals very unexpedectly.. to kind of give them a new perspective.. to let them sympathize for him so to speak. You could walk outside tomorrow and be murdered in cold blood by somebody and that is what I want to show.. the kid is worrying so much about existing.. and making a name for himself that he forgets to just live.

Let me know any of your concerns with this idea.. its still VERY rough. Thank you a lot for helping me out.

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hijo
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Posted: 14 April 2006 at 12:38am | IP Logged Quote hijo

Mark: it's an interesting story. I like juxtaposing the older, more "mature" man with the 16-year-old.

I don't think it either benefits or detracts from being in any particular time period (Great Depression versus current).

But ...

Yes, random acts - or apparently random acts - of violence occur all the time.

Truly random acts, however, really aren't that frequent (just ask cops). Most murders are committed by people who have some relationship with the victim - even just a rival gang member, but often some legal/financial/relationship/emotional dispute.

You hear of "random acts of violence" in major metropolitan areas perhaps because, with so many people living in close proximity, the odds are just better.

But they also happen in every small town in the world. People kill people. My favorite (in the sense of being one of the most senseless I ever knew of) murder in my career as a cop reporter was when two brothers got into an argument over doing the dishes after Thanksgiving. One wanted to dry, one wanted to wash. So the one who wanted to dry settled the argument by plunging the carving knife into his brother's chest.

Unfortunately, more often, it's not the 30-ish arrogant man who kills the 16-year-old kid randomly, but the other way around. The 16 year old doesn't really know life's value, and doesn't really know what he's taking when he takes someone's life away. Within two years, without parental consent, he's eligible to find out in the service of his country. I've never had the "he was only 16" mentality, considering most folks don't say of soldiers "he was only 18," or whatever. I always remember that Billy the Kid (William Bonny) was 14 when he "killed his first man." Musashi, the revered sword fighter of Japan, was 13 when he killed his first man with two sticks (it's possible).

But I am always saddened to hear, as I think it was in a Chicago suburb, of the decorated service veteran who decides to take on the young drug dealers to clean up his neighborhood who gets ambushed and killed.

How old are you, and how close is the story to your personal experience/understanding of the world/life etc? I ask because again, if you try to write it based on what you've heard, or suspect, but haven't experienced, or haven't been around, there's a greater risk it won't come off as "believable," which I think anyone needs to write a successful story. I'm not saying it has to be a true story or even based on actual events: it just has to appear to be, convincingly.

Are there subways where you live? Have you ridden them after the "witching hour" (2 a.m. on a weekend in NYC).

Don't get me wrong: as I said in the beginning, I like the juxtaposition, and I especially like the idea of the arrogant 30-ish guy going criminal without having expected to or thinking he somehow might be above it. It does happen. People do what they need to survive, even if it costs other people. It's a rare, strong person who won't do something to someone else for survival. Who recognizes that their life is in no way more valuable than someone elses - who goes to war at 30 something specifically because he's had a pretty decent shot at life and wants to take the place of some kid who hasn't.

Now. If the loss (whatever it is) triggers a mental condition, or if, say, your 30-ish arrogant guy suffers from schizophrenia but has been able to treat it with medication that he now can no longer afford and doesn't think he really needs to take...

Good luck in any event. Let us know how it's going as you work it out.

It's always easier to help others or even just talk about writing than to actually force oneself to sit down and do it.

Best,
hijo

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MarkCianfrani2
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Posted: 14 April 2006 at 12:53am | IP Logged Quote MarkCianfrani2

I'm only seventeen. So, I haven't experienced much but I don't want to wait around my whole life for things to happen. I have a very active imagination. I live in a Philadelphia suburb and have ridden the subway (well actually its the train but its the same thing) during the late hours... its always interesting. I think I'm close to the story to be able to passionately tell it but at the same time still be able to change things to fit the story. A lot of people believe that we, as a human race, are all connected. I think people are quick to assume that 'the bad guys' are less than human but the reality of it is that they just see things differently which brings up the question of right and wrong.

I completely agree that it's always easier to talk about writing then actually forcing oneself to sit down and do it.

Thanks again!

Mark

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docnme
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Posted: 14 April 2006 at 8:00pm | IP Logged Quote docnme

Hello Mark,

I sort of feel like I am butting in here, but something that I read in your next to last post just jumped out and grabbed me...(you said,"you wanted to start the story out so it was obvious at first glance that the man was a deranged lunatic with no heart, but then wanted people to realize that he was just an ordinary man." Maybe I did not get the quote exact, but I got the message... I know that you probably hear this all of the time BUT if you would read just some of "Ordinary Men" by Christopher R. Browning you would have your answer as how to protray the man the way that you describe...Hope that you will take the time to do that, sure that it will be worth it to you.  I'll stop right here.

Best,

docnme



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MarkCianfrani2
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Posted: 14 April 2006 at 9:52pm | IP Logged Quote MarkCianfrani2

Ah docnme, thank you. I will do just that. Is "Ordinary Men" the same thing as my idea though?

EDIT:

I see that it isn't. Is this what you were refering to?  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060995068/sr=8-1/qid=11450 66130/ref=sr_1_1/104-9901038-9961563?%5Fencoding=UTF8

Thanks a lot. This looks really interesting and will prove to be very helpful. I'm just glad someone else hadn't already written the same thing, thats what I thought you meant at first.



Edited by MarkCianfrani2 on 14 April 2006 at 9:55pm
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