Matt Lichtenwalner

Mobile mapper for Ushr - roaming the US and Canada constantly. Maybe a bit of art and/or writing here and there to spice things up.

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Going to just try writing for 1/2 hour today. Been too long, and I need to do more blogging. If I try to keep the time limited, maybe that will help get me to just do it and not procrastinate.

More Thoughts on the Patch Book

  • It's the 80s. I really want to create the feel of the 80s in the book. A lot of books that I read 'hold up' really well when compared to t.v. shows. Part of the reason is that there isn't much that provides a sense of the time period. I want to fix that in my book. Reading the Jack Reacher series and the Harry Bosch series of books both have small things: more smoking of the characters, and the use of pagers, for example that denote the era the book takes place in, but even those aren't huge. They don't pull you as the reader into that time period. It's more like stage dressing. For the 80s? I'm thinking about description writing - clothes, hair styles, etc. More zeitgeist-y stuff like opinions on drug use, people slowly becoming aware of AIDs, breakdancing.
  • It's Detroit. Here again, I want to give a real sense of the setting. Not just some light "it's a major metropolis" feel like SO many books do. The Dresden Files start to cover what I'm thinking. But there's a catch, and that is:
  • Patch is not a rocket surgeon. It's too tempting for many first time authors to make their Mary Sue characters 'perfect'. They think of the right answers just in time. They do the right thing whenever facing a challenge. Yes, Patch originally was based (very loosely) on a teenage me, but I want him to be more compelling than that. One way I hope to do so is by making him far from perfect. He'll have many faults, starting with the simple concept of him not being a genius. No, I don't want to make him a mindless brute, but he's just not always going to put 2 and 2 together perfectly. He will be more in the "If at first you don't succeed, break shit."  mindset. Well, later in the book anyway. At first, he'll be more of a scared runaway teenager mindset. Which brings me to the idea:
  • Patch is just a scared, inexperienced kid. There's a ton of YA coming of age stories out there ever since... well, since way back, but I think that the combination of the ubiquity of access to the internet and the Harry Potter books have created a boom in this particular niche. This book won't be within the genre. At least, it won't be in the genre as I currently understand it. It will be graphically violent. It will involve characters making bad choices and having to live with the consequences. It will be... rough. While most of the YA stuff I see out there wants to believe itself most of those things, my sense is that they tip the hat in that direction and then run the other way.
  • Depth of character will be important. I kinda hinted at this in my previous post about this theoretical book, but I wanted to bring it up and think about it again. Whether the character is Patch, one of the villains, a random npc, Patch's motorcycle (which he will first encounter here), or the local diner, depth (and arguably breadth) of character will be important to me. I really don't want a superficial/fleeting feel to things. That seems like a clear sign of an amatuer writer. The trick (it may be obvious, but I want to get it down in black and white) will be brevity while creating that depth. I do not want to be grotesquely verbose in order to create non-superficial characters.

Thoughts on How I Want to Write It

  • Write fast, revise often, and get good feedback. I'm listening to a lot of writing and self publishing podcasts. One theme that seems to come up frequently when the people being interviewed are surviving on their writing money is the way that they have removed the illusions of the 'traditional publishing world'. An example? Authors who create a series need to write fast. While I really want to avoid my first book having the "Holy crap - he clearly wrote this for NaNoWriMo!" feel, I do want to come up with a process where I could (if I love writing long form as much as I think I will) produce rapidly. This combo (fast, but good) seems to be best done by doing two things:
    • Writing consistently, and fiercely. In truth, I'm thinking of taking a bit of the NaNo mindset here by writing for an hour every day, or at least 5 days (to give myself a 'break' weekly). Maybe more, depending on how my drive holds up.
    • Reviewing / editing a lot. When I listen to these interviews, you can hear what isn't being said. The authors will gloss over things like the editing process. Or rather, how they talk about it tells me volumes.

Ok, I actually want to write more (and maybe I will later tonight) but time's up so I have to put the pen down.

3/5 '16 3 Comments
Re: Just do it ... I have been thinking about this post and about your email, and the conclusion I came to is that I needed to kick-start my own writing.

I think #WriteChain would be good for you - you set an accountability challenge, pick a place to post your results (they're fans of twitter) and then do what you said you were gonna do.

More details about the above ...
Hey, this was really interesting.

One of my challenges, on the rare occasions when I attempt fiction, is to listen to the characters and step away from perfect person itis. My lawful good background makes this tricky. I might perhaps be better at it, now that I've seen 45 years of how good people do bad things and vice versa.
That is exactly the idea for me: even good people fuck up. Sometimes even for "bad" reasons. Sometimes on purpose.

I think a big part of the book will be illustrating Patch thinking in black and white when the world exists in shades of grey. That will arguably be the biggest way I will show his lack of maturity. The character will remain someone who sees the world in binary terms (even well into adulthood) but it will be a bit more glaring here in his youth.