Sunday, November 22, 2009

newnoise1 reviews Fantastic Literature

It was a dark and stormy night

It was a dark and stormy night . . . this is the atmosphere you find throughout The Black Water Anthology of Fantastic Literature selected and edited by Alberto Manguel.

Every story has something that reminds you it is not necessarily a bad idea to look over your shoulder every now and then . . . just in case, someone could be watching . . .

The shortest story, one of the best I've ever read, is called Climax for a Ghost Story, written by I. A. Ireland:

'How Eerie!' said the girl, advancing cautiously.' - And what a heavy door!' She touched it as she spoke and it suddenly swung to with a click.

'Good Lord!' said the man, 'I don't believe there's a handle on the inside. Why, you've locked us both in!'

'Not both of us. Only one of us,' said the girl, and before his eyes she passed straight through the door, and vanished.

How does that grab you?! Every story in the selection makes you understand why your hair could stand on end if you really got a big fright. Nearly like when you read your tax assessment.

Writers included in the selection are: Ray Bradbury, Julio Cortázar, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, Daphne du Maurier, Henry James, Oscar Wild, Frans Kafka, Hermann Hesse and about twenty others you know well. There are a number of translated stories by authors such as Julio Cortázar, João Guimarães Rosa and Horacio Quiroga who I only know of through the Anthology.

One of my other favorite short stories in the selection is An invitation to the hunt by George Hitchcock and it's a must read, must, must . . . I felt as if I were going to have a fit after I read it. One day I am going to read it again.

If you like staying home alone with a good book and getting up from under the cozy covers once or twice or more to check if all the doors are locked this is for you. If you write short stories this is Short Stories 101, 102 and 103.

As you know making newnoise often means thinking in strange and peculiar ways. All that means is that you think a bit further than the usual strange and peculiar person. Writers don't really stand out in a crowed what stands out about them is what and how they think.

Remember, make newnoise!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

newnoise1 falls for the Coen brothers

newnoise1 falls for the Coen brothers

I am not an ignoramus. I know lots of stuff, such as which year the Second World War ended, who Einstein was, why you don't mix your alcohol with your medication. But, I confess, I never realized I was a Coen brother's fan.

How did they get to me? I mean I thought I was successfully avoiding the Coen brothers all these years. I'm not one for blood and guts. I'm a female writer, sensitive and easily grossed out. There's only one way you're going to get me to voluntarily watch violence and that's by handing me buckets of popcorn as a distraction.

The end of my innocence started when I watched The Big Lebowski for the third time last night. I thought this will be a good movie to blog about, it's hilarious and thought provoking.

I googled The Big Lebowski and guess what? Blogging robs us of our own ignoramias. It dawned on me, somewhat surprisingly, that at least five of my favorite movies were written and directed by none other than the Coen brothers. I felt like a traitor to myself and my kind.

Obviously I'm no movie buff. I always thought of the Coen brothers as similar to the Kray twins, the kind of men any decent girl should avoid. Coen brothers and Kray twins sounded the same to me.

Remember the foot with the sock on sticking out of the corn mill in Fargo? Remember Barton Fink swatting away at flies trying to get over his writers block in that boiling hot Hollywood hotel room? Remember Razing Arizona? Neither do I but I plan to watch it again I can remember I liked it.

Remember the Big Lebowski? The Dude, walking down the aisle in the supermarket wearing shorts, looking so Salvation Army, opening and smelling the milk as if whatever the Dude does must be cool?

I love this film. Not because every sentence contains the f-word, no, but to cast Jeff Bridges, that stylish hunk, as the sloppy Dude was some stroke of genius. I love it because the Dude is so trying to hang on to his cool while life gets so weird it makes his own extreme weirdness look normal.

Not to talk about the effect all the narcotics is having on his mind . . . like trying to remember what he was talking about and being unable to finish his sentences. Forgetting that the car window is closed and throwing his smoke out . . .that's the Dude.

It was like finding a favorite author who was writing under some other name all along.

The Coen brothers create Big characters, Marge in Fargo, cool, calm and collected. Barton Fink, completely stressed out, slapping away at flies and The Big Lebowski, the Dude with his floppy shorts and habit of exposing his hairy belly at the drop of a hat. Burn After Reading . . . it could happen . . . did you see the Russian embassy? I still don't know if it's really the Russian embassy but still . . . it does have a certain ring to it.

To find your writing voice you have to create memorable characters. I'm not sure where the Coen brothers found them. Apparently the Dude is based on a guy they knew who owned a crummy flat and a carpet that 'Tied the room together'.

Notice the odd little things about your friends and family. Your family should be the best place to start to look for weird characters. If you can't notice what's weird about your family you can't notice anything. Starting there, you have great characters, observe them carefully and find ways to express their eccentricities in your writing.

The Coen brothers grew up in Minneapolis and were born in the early fifties. I wish they first published their movies as books before they filmed them. I am going to write to them, care of their agent, to request this . . .

Saturday, November 7, 2009

newnoise1 on writing a literary masterpiece

Find your writing voice, how to write a literary masterpiece

If you wake up one morning and find yourself transformed into a giant bug, don't cry about it, write about it!

Writers have new noise to make and nothing will stop them from making it. They know their craft and they feel passionate about their themes. Therefore, they are confident about what they have to say. Can you imagine giving Ayn Rand advice on a paragraph in Atlas Shrugged? Good luck to you.

Charles Dickens, George Orwell, J. D Salinger, T.S Eliot, Frans Kafka, Edith Wharton . . . these authors were not vaguely interested in the themes they chose to write about, they were consumed by them. Writers see new things in the things that other eyes miss. Freud said something like, 'Wherever I go, I find a poet has been there already.' Often the literary master writes and later the idea becomes part of the text book.

Charles Dickens wrote of the abuse of children in labor factories, William Golding on the consequence of war in The Lord of the Flies, Orwell described how the world of communism works in reality. Ayn Rand, who grew up in a communist country, felt she had to write about why capitalism as a rational way of life was superior to the communism way of life. Aldous Huxley had something to say about the future and how little courage would be needed in Brave new world. He was already writing about artificial insemination in 1937.

Hours, days and years of thought can go into a literary masterpiece. Somerset Maugham said people have no idea how much thought goes into a story or a novel before it is finally written down.

Even literary masters start as journalists, press agents, editors or bloggers. T.S Eliot worked in a bank for a while but he still lived to write. One of his central themes was our inhability to grasp Life with a capital L:

'What is that noise?'

The wind under the door.
What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?'
'Nothing and again nothing'
'You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember
I remember
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
'Are you still alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?'

'But . . .

(The Wasteland)

Literary masters can write about extremely difficult concepts and make it look like a walk in the park. To a writer like Margaret Atwood, words and how to use them are second nature. From Cat's eye to The handmaid's tale, she has something to say that is of universal importance.

In a nutshell, to find your writing voice and make new noise:

* find a central theme that consumes you,
* write, write and write some more,
* develop an artist's eye - see things in your own way, and
* work on your confidence.

Monday, November 2, 2009

newnoise1 on how to save your news release from the trash can

How to save your news release from the trash can, things to avoid

  • Editors see thousands of exclamation marks in a day, this makes them . . . rant.
  • Using abbreviations such as FPSDC or acronyms such as DoP with no explanation of what it stands for. Write it out fully the first time it's used in a sentence: Fizzy Pop Soft Drink Company (FPSDC) or Drugs out Program (DoP). In fact try not to use abbreviations and acronyms it means double work as you will have to market the product name and the acronym.
  • Bold, underlined capitals. This is overkill. The only reason I do it in my blog titles is that I can't figure out how to change the title settings.
  • Announcing things and being proud of it. Editors don't care how proud you are of anything. Except if stated discretely in your last sentence about something that you are quite sure is utterly interesting to be proud of.
  • Using two words where one will do. . . 'The company is proud to announce the launch . . . ' versus 'The company plans to launch . . .'
  • Using words editors don't understand make them . . . rant.
  • Not getting to the point quickly. This must happen in your first sentence.
  • Spelling your managing director's name wrong.
  • Sharing what will happen but not where . . . or when.
  • Assuming an editor will think your event is as great as you think it is.

newnoise1 on how to write a news release

How to write a news release

News release

Fizzy Pop Soft Drinks launches 'Drink me now'

12 December 2010

Your first paragraph states the news:

'Fizzy Pop Soft Drinks, the multimillion rand soft drink company, will launch a new addition to its soft drink line at the Funky Fountain, in Tiny Town, on Monday 5 January 2010 at 16:00.

Called 'Drink me now' the soft drink has a distinctive grape flavor, purple color and complements other fruit flavored soft drinks available from the Fizzy Pop line.

The first paragraph answers the essential questions: who, where, why, what and . . . you can get back to 'how' later in this news release.

Your next paragraph can contain a quote from an authority on the subject. This makes the news release more 'alive' and gives it credibility:

Managing Director, Grant Fox, says that Fizzy Pop Soft Drinks has moved from strength to strength in soft drink sales over the past ten years. 'Our secret is in the care we take with the development of each new soft drink. It took five years of serious research and tasting to perfect 'Drink me now, ' he said.

Finally, additional information can be added to what you want to say about the company:

Fizzy Pop Soft Drinks has invited learners from schools in the Tiny Town area to attend the launch.

The company is proud of its drug prevention program aimed at children in the preteen age group.

When you have said what you wanted to say, write:


Then include a contact name, telephone number and email address.

The news angle you decide on will be influenced by the content of the newspaper or magazine you are sending it to. For a magazine aimed at drug prevention among teenagers you will start your news release from the drug program angle:

'Fizzy Pop Soft Drinks, the multimillion rand soft drink company, will launch a new addition to its soft drink line at the Funky Fountain, in Tiny Town, on Monday 5 January 2010 at 16:00. The company has invited learners from schools in the Tiny Town area to attend the launch and plans to promote its successful drug prevention program during the event.

Called 'Drink me now' the soft drink has a distinctive grape flavor, purple color and complements other fruit flavored soft drinks available from the Fizzy Pop soft drink line. . .'