Tony Flaner’s new adventure, THICKER THAN WATER, is not only the best book ever written ever, but it’s also economically priced and makes a great gift,
But I digress.
I talk a lot about writing to theme, an unusual method of creative writing, one that I learned through my training in literary and cultural criticism. Thank you, University of Utah. What this means is that I’m usually investigating a larger idea in my work. Larger than just the story, I mean. The story is in service to the personal exploration of the theme.
In Thicker than Water, I was driven by the idea of family connection and ancestral debts. It was spurned by the tragic but modern phenomenon of losing connections with once dear friends and family. Maybe you’ve kept track of everyone who ever touched your life, but I unfortunately haven’t and coincidentally, neither has Tony.
There are people whom I’ve loved, who have loved me, put up with me, saved me in hard times, but still have fallen by the wayside of my life, lost in the distractions of growing up and growing through.
Nostalgia comes in times of quiet and in times of crisis. For Tony, it’s a tonic to reinvigorate him out of a stupor to repay an old debt to kind kin in the desert.
Tony’s debts are more defined than mine, his settings more cinematic, but the idea of a magical summer, mythical and meaningful as only retrospect can color it, is at the heart of the story on all levels. From his son’s music concert to the snake in the garage, all are pieces of the same familial puzzle.
And there’s plenty of sarcastic social satire, Flanerisms and a ripping good mystery I bet you won’t figure out until the very end, when Tony tells you. Your mileage may vary.
THICKER THAN WATER, A Tony Flaner Mystery, coming August 2019
I am thrilled to announce the return of an old friend. Tony Flaner is back! Our sarcastic slacker detective is back in full form with the return of THE FINGER TRAP, winner of the Diamond Quill for Best Book of the Year.
This week, I'd like to share with you a long interview I did with the wonderful Emily Merrell. Follow this link to see my interview (disregard the picture of me—not my best). Also check out her other great podcasts and her music.
A great one day event is around the corner up in Logan, Utah.
On June 15, 2019 The League of Utah Writers and Utah State University English Department are proud to present the 2019 Summer Writing Symposium, featuring renowned authors, university writing educators, and presenters from the League of Utah Writers.
This is a full day of creative writing classes and presentations for just $25 (early bird pricing).
Intensive critique sessions and lunch are also included!
One of the key questions to ask your characters as you prepare any writing project, is what they want. It’s a question about goals. It is not motivation, but actual tangible destinations. For example, Tony wants to find out who killed Rose Griff. Michael wants his nightmares to end. Eleanor wants to fit in.
Why they want these things—the motivations behind these goals—are interesting and complex enough to fill a book, but it’s the characters acting to achieve these goals, fulfill their wants, that supports a story where we get to ask them why they want it in the first place.
Characters can change what they want later on, that’s fine, but active characters are the ones who’ve set out to do something. They succeed or fail, but dammit, they try. That trying is the muscle of the story. Wanting that luring goal is what keeps them and the narrative moving. Taking a ring back to a mountain, helping a friend take a ring back to a mountain, getting the ring back so I’m not alone, my precious, are good examples of simple wants that motivate character to act. Without those wants, simple and plain as these are, the characters wouldn’t leave the shire (or the cave) and we’d have to Deus Ex Machina their butts into gear if we want more than a mood piece.
To borrow from Tony Flaner again, there’s a the push and the pull. If the action is thrust upon them, that’s reactive—the push. “Run there are dark baddies chasing us.” Once the character chooses to do something, that’s active—the pull. “I will recycle this ring because someone needs to do it.” Both function, but which is heroic?
Ay, there’s the rub.
What if we apply this simple self examination and story telling device to real life? What if I ask myself, what do I want? Then I carry it on to you. What do you want? Look at anyone, can you get a handle on them by figuring out their goal is? Hell yes. They want money, a girl, health, a puppy. It is a powerful tool when applied to others, but let’s face it, it is terrifying when applied to ourselves.
It comes down to this: Are we wise enough to know what we want and brave enough to act on it? Are we the active characters we’d demand in our books? Can we write down a quick statement or a numbered list of things we want? Are we actively doing things to achieve those goals? Or are we content with station keeping? Holding still? Is our want to be safe only? Unchallenged? Stagnant? Is that the list? Or are there real but not yet achieves goals out there that we’ve chosen to ignore?
In the story of our own lives, are we the protagonist or a side character? A walk on? An extra? Background noise? Are we an actor or a reactor?