Tip 4 of William Faulkner’s 7 Fiction Writing Tips

Know your characters well and the story will write itself.

I would say to get the character in your mind. Once he is in your mind, and he is right, and he’s true, then he does the work himself. All you need to do then is to trot along behind him and put down what he does and what he says. It’s the ingestion and then the gestation. You’ve got to know the character. You’ve got to believe in him. You’ve got to feel that he is alive, and then, of course, you will have to do a certain amount of picking and choosing among the possibilities of his action, so that his actions fit the character which you believe in. After that, the business of putting him down on paper is mechanical.

Source: Open Culture 

Rule 8 of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules for Writing

Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

Which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway’s ”Hills Like White Elephants” what do the ”American and the girl with him” look like? ”She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.

Source: New York Times

Chapter 13 ~ A Startling Conversation at the Urinal

Chapter 13 ~ A Startling Conversation at the Urinal

When Joe walked into the gas station, he saw donuts sitting next to a coffee bar. Two truck drivers were filling up thermoses at the coffee bar. They glanced at Joe. Joe nodded. They nodded back, and Joe headed for the room marked, Men’s. When Joe reached the Men’s room, he pushed the door and saw four urinals. He held his breath, the men’s room smelled as if the urinals and toilets hadn’t been cleaned in a week. He had to go, so he started breathing through his mouth and walked toward the urinals. Two of them had Out of Order signs posted on them. An old guy with a face resembling an overcooked bake potato and a shaggy hair cut that gave every appearance it was self cut without the aid of a mirror. The old guy was standing in front of the third urinal. The only empty urinal was next to the old guy. Joe noticed that the first three urinals had large full page ads on the wall advertising goods he assumed the gas station sold. The fourth urinal had an old faded poster featuring the deceased country singer Merle Haggard.

Joe walked up the to fourth urinal. The man next to him, gave a slight glance and returned his stare straight at the wall. He said, “A guy your age doesn’t have to wait for the flow. I been here five minutes and I believe I’m going to be successful. You got to be my good luck charm. You live around here or traveling through?”

All Joe wanted to do was empty his bladder, but he didn’t want to be impolite. He said, “Passing through.”

The old guy glanced over and said, “I know you from somewhere. I won’t forget.”

I don’t think so. I’ve never been here,” said Joe.

The old guy said, “I’m retired. I can stand here all day if I have to. It’s not boring, guys like you come and go. I get to ask them where they’re going. Where’re you headed?”

Joe rolled his eyes up at the poster, and was eyeball to eyeball with Merle Haggard. Joe said, “Quincy, Illinois.”

“I know where that is, it’s on the Mississippi River. You ever swim in the Mississippi?” asked the old guy.

Joe only wanted to finish up and get on the road. Stopping here was a mistake. He said,

“I’ve flown over it, I never swam in it.” Joe finished and zipped up his pants and turned toward the sinks.

“Too bad. Only real men can handle it. I remember when I was your age, I was working on a barge and jumped in and swam to shore. Know why I did it? My buddy bet me a buck I didn’t dare do it. Hell, they never stopped to get me and I never got my buck. I didn’t get my pay either. It’s coming.”

The old guy said, “I seen you staring at the poster. I met him. Shook his hand.”
Joe said, “Merle Haggard?”

“Don’t bother me, son. I’m flowing and when your flowing you’re knowing.”

Joe walked away from the urinal to the sinks and began washing his hands.

The old guy came up and stood at the next sink. He said, “I stand in front of the urinal for ten minutes to go for ten seconds.”

Joe half smiled and nodded and reached for a paper towel.

“Nope. It wasn’t Merle. If it was, I’d never wash my hand. It was the leader of the Flamingos. I got to shake the group leader’s hand. He’s a lying son of bitch.”

Joe turned and looked at the old guy and said, “Joe and the Flamingos?”

“I don’t know his last name. I think the guys last name was Flamingo. He named the group after himself, Joe and the Flamingos.”

Joe said, “Can I buy you a coffee and a donut? I’d like to hear your story.”

The old guy looked at Joe in mirror and stared at him for a moment, then nodded.

A New Story Beginning January 2, 2018

Dear readers, The characters in my stories and I wish you the most joy-filled and peaceful Christmas. Here is to love filling your heart, homes, and all who enter. Merry Christmas, Ray

Advice for Writers from Daniel Silva

Here is more advice for writers from one of today’s great fiction writers, Daniel Silva. In this brief talk, Daniel Silva shares with us how approaches the plot and character development.  I hope you learn as much as me from this wonderful author.

 

My Alarm Didn’t Go Off

It’s 5 a.m., Joey’s alarm is set to ring at 6:30. He doesn’t have to be at work until 8. Right now, Joey’s lying on a beach chair, tanned, clothed in a bathing suit. His beach chair sits on a white sandy beach in Jamaica. Joey takes one look at the bluest bit of ocean water you’ll ever see. Then he turns his head to the beach chair next to him to marvel at one of the world’s wonders, a scantily clad native beauty who’s smiling at him, her red lips and sultry look tell Joey all he wants to know. They’re drinking margaritas. Joey knows where the afternoon is headed, until . . .

“Wake up low life. Rise and shine. You’re snoozing you’re losing.” A series of angry barks followed. He felt the covers ripped off him.

He pulled his pillow over his head, kicked his legs and feet at an elusive enemy, and screamed, “Get out of here. My alarm didn’t go off. I don’t have to be to work until 8.”

“Five seconds, that’s all you got, you piece of work to get up. I’m feeling generous, you got fifteen minutes to shave, shower, do your business, make your bed and stand for inspection,” barked Farlo in a baritone voice mixed with the sound of a jackhammer and lawn mower.

“I’m not getting up. Get used to it,” uttered Joey’s muffled voice. Then he added, “What are you doing? Are you nuts?” said Joey jumping out of bed soaking wet. His sheets and mattress soaked. He rubbed his eyes with his fists. He opened his eyes, his arms by his sides, his fists clenched, and stared at Farlo.

Farlo stood rim rode straight in front of him. Farlo held on to his cane with his right hand and an empty two gallon water bucket in the other. Tina sat next to Farlo on her haunches. To Joey, it looked like Tina was laughing at him.

“You look like crap. You have fifteen minutes and counting. The clock is ticking. Make sure the bathroom is the way you found it or your ass is grass and I’m the lawn mower,” snarled Farlo sounding like an irritated pit bull.

Joey took a step toward Farlo, Tina let out a growl. Joey stepped back and said, “At least get out of my room.”

Farlo stared at Joey, “Don’t worry about work. I called in for you and told your supervisor you quit. You’ll get your check in next week’s mail.”

“I, I, I’ve been there for five years. I was building a career portfolio. I need that job,” Joey snapped.

“It’s a dead-end job kid. You’re working for me. You’re going to thank me for getting you out of a loser’s job. This is the first day of the rest of your life. Now, move out.”

“But, but, but . . .”

“Tina!” said Farlo.

Tina stood up. She set herself to attack Joey. Joey stepped back and walked a wide circle around Tina and Farlo and headed to the bathroom.

Sixteen minutes later Joey went into the kitchen. He saw Farlo sitting on one of his two chairs, actually empty kegs. On the table in front of Farlo sat a bowl of oatmeal, container of Greek yogurt, dish of fresh fruit, and coffee.

“Where’d you get that food?” asked Joey.

“Filo had it delivered at oh four hundred.”

“What time is that?” asked Joey.

Joey walked over to the table and sat down on the other keg. He looked at the empty space in front of him, “Where’s my food?”

“What do you think you’re doing, kid? You haven’t stood for inspection. Go back to your bedroom and call me when you’re standing as straight as a lamp pole,” said Farlo. He paused and took a sip of his coffee.

“This is not fair,” said Joey.

“I know,” said Farlo.

Joey turned and went back to his bedroom. A moment later, he called, “I’m ready.”

Tina walked in the bedroom first followed by Farlo. “Check it for drugs and weapons girl.”

Tina slowly walked around the bed sniffing the sheets and mattress. She stopped when she reached the other side of the bed. Her head stared directly at Joey’s pillow. Farlo walked past Joey and around the bed. Joey turned his head.

Farlo barked, “Eyes front.” Joey turned his head toward the door.

Joey heard a ripping sound. He heard the rustling of a pillow case and saw feathers floating over his head. He heard, “Aha, weed. Are you a pothead? Is this what I’m dealing with? You’re going cold turkey. No drugs, no alcohol. Forget coffee. You’re on a restricted, cleansing diet, water, fruit, spinach and kale and whole grains for two weeks. If it doesn’t work, you’ll get a juice enema.”

“Noooooo,” whimpered Joey.

“You don’t even know how to make a bed. You are a shipwreck. You’re standing in the middle of the tracks and a speeding train is about to reduce you to rubble. Burn the linen. It hasn’t been changed and washed in six months. Now let me look at you.”

Farlo paced around Joey until stood six inches from Joey’s face. “Listen up. No grunge, short haircut, use a brush on your fingernails and for God’s sake, trim them. I didn’t see any floss in your bathroom. I’ll make you a shopping list. You can sit and watch me eat.”

“What about me?” asked Joey.

Farlo ignored Joey’s comment. “Wait until I’m finished eating. You have to exercise before you eat.”

“What?”

“Filo told me you were a Cat 5 project. That’s as high as the numbers go. That’s the worst case of all the worst cases. Nothing to worry about. I never fail.”

“Who’s Filo?” asked Joey.

Who is Filo? I have the same question. What are Filo’s plans for Joey? Why was Joey chosen? Come back tomorrow to see how Joey’s doing.