The Man Without A Tie

Don’t you think “The Man Without A Tie” makes a nice title? It’s the title of my first draft of a noir novella of almost 19,000 words. I’ve been working on it for the last thirty days. Yesterday I put “The End” tag to it.

It’s the first person story of a schmuck on the losing side of ten grand. His name is Cord. It takes place in 1953 when “Hank Williams was dead, Frank Sinatra had gone Hollywood, Eisenhower was President, and the government was taken over by the commies. At least, that’s what Joe McCarthy said.”

It may not be a dark and stormy night in the City when the novel opens but it soon will be. There’s always a dark and stormy night in the City in these kind of stories. Just like there are eight million stories in the Naked City.

The main character isn’t Mike Hammer or Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe. But his luck may be changing when he’s offered the chance to erase the ten grand gambling debt by two of the local crime lords. All he has to do is find out who killed the blonde. Unfortunately the police consider him a suspect.

It opens with this paragraph:

The blonde might have been dressed like a lady, but she was no lady. She was a regular circe. And she knew how to enchant the hell out of a fellow. There I was in bed with her, making like I knew what the heck I was doing. When we finished, she leaned toward me with those baby blues and put her ante down. “That’s a down payment, Baby.”

For the last thirty-something days, I woke up and wrote at least five hundred words on it first thing in the morning. If I don’t write first thing in the morning, there’s a good chance I may not get anything of my own written during the day. If I don’t write first thing in the morning, I feel guilty the rest of the day. If I don’t write first thing in the morning, I’m a real pain in the neck to know. And in other parts of the anatomy too.

Each morning I pull myself out of the old bedsky, feed the cat, get a cup of coffee, then go to work and let my subby-conscious do all the work. But it’s worth it. I never know what I will come up with. This time I came up with “The Man Without a Tie”.

Want to know why Cord doesn’t wear a tie. Want to know why he doesn’t have a first name. You’ll have to read it when it shows up on kindle sometime in the fall. In the meantime, I have to figure out whether his eyes are blue or brown. One thing is for sure. We know why Cord calls Cherry, the bartender at The Big Easy, Cleavage.


Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Alice Munro

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. To celebrate Women’s History Month, this week’s Creator Spotlight is the Canadian short story writer Alice Munro:

‘Depth of insight’ distinguishes Nobel-laureate Munro.

I first fell in love with Alice Munro when I read her short story, “Walker Brothers Cowboy”. I have read her short stories over the years and never been disappointed.

micropoem for the day: characters and a new day

No life is boring when you get right down to it. Everyone has an inner life. And there’s no character who is uninteresting. Although Jason came close to it. His life was so routine the trains set their schedule by it. Look deep enough and there’s something there. Jason may have had a family life so chaotic that he went in the opposite direction. Who’s to know unless the writer looks deep and let’s Jason bear his soul in some unexpected moment.

Writing a story is like falling in love. When I fall in love with a character, then I know I have a story. I want to know more and more and more. And more. The moment I quit looking deep into the soul of that character, I know I’m done for. That’s when ye olde writer’s block drops on my head.

sipping coffee
reading a book, then writing
the start of a new day.

Near 500 words: Soup-o-logy

When it comes to creating a story, I don’t start with an idea. Like the story will be about the difficulty of staying married. Or death is inevitable. A lot of the story-creation books suggest that is a good way into the story. I don’t start with a plot either.

My stories always begin with a character acting in a situation. It’s as if the character is a stranger I meet on the street. I do not work from a profile. Too many things to remember. I learn a character as the story moves along. A story that might begin with a man and a woman at dinner.

“The soup was good,” Dora says.

Kat’s response might be, “You think?” Maybe he didn’t think the soup was that good. Maybe he’s just super critical. Then Dora might decide no more dates with this guy. In addition to being critical, I just discovered that he is forthright. And Dora doesn’t care for critical, forthright men.

Or Kat might respond, “I thought so too.” Even if he didn’t like the soup, he isn’t going to tell Dora. So he’s either courteous or he might be a guy who hides things from others.

“I never eat a meal without soup. Even my breakfasts have soup.”

“Breakfasts have soups?” Kat asks.

“They are called cereal.”

“What do you see in soups?”

“I like their texture.”

Kat never thought of soups that way.

“Next time,” Kat says, “I’m taking you out for a steak.”

“Do they have soup?”

The two date a few times. Each time they go out, it’s soup. For the both of them. He begins to love soup as much as Dora does. He never knew he loved soup until Dora. She made a connoisseur of him. They even start planning their vacations around soup-tastings. For the first time in his life, he feels he belongs to a special group. The food subculture of soup-a-holics.

The next time he sees his friend, Joe, he says, “I’m getting married.”

Joe asks, “I don’t believe it. What did it for you?”

“She likes soup. And I like that she likes soup. I even like soup now.”

“There’s no reason to get married over soup.”

“Can’t think of a better one.”

“But soups?”

“Every time we get together we end up talking soup. We have something we’re passionate about in common.”

“What else do you have in common?”

“Don’t need anything else. It’s like me and my brother.”

Joe is confused. “You’re comparing her to your brother?”

“Just this. My brother and I have only one thing in common. Other than we’re family. We both love the Chicago Cubs. We can go a whole week talking Cubs and only scratch the surface.”

When Kat asks Dora to marry him, she asks him, “Why do you want to marry me?”

“I’ll always remember the first time you ordered minestrone. I’d never met anyone who put so much effort into eating soup. You first tasted the broth. Then you took just a small bite of the pasta. It was like you were doing a wine tasting. There was such ecstasy on your face. I knew right then I wanted to spend my life with you.”

“Well,” Dora said, “we may not have Paris. But we’ll always have minestrone.”

You see what I mean. How did I know who Dora and Kat were? I didn’t until they started talking. Until they started acting. Then it was only a matter of getting to the minestrone. It’s not a full blown plot but it’s a good beginning.

Near 500 words: Grammar-ing rhymes with hammering

Note: For all who wanted the mystery, “The Great Squirrel Caper”, it’s in the works and on its way. 

In need of a writer, I’m your man. I can make a screwdriver sound sexy. You want to spunk up your orange juice, just pour in some vodka. Then turn it with a screwdriver and that screw goes write in. Folks, as you can see. I have those mixed metaphors down pat. And talk about similes, well, we shouldn’t gossip.

If you want your house to stand, you want to use a screwdriver that’s going to drive in them screws good and hard. (Now get your heads out of the dirt. I’m not talking sex here. ‘Course if I was, same words might work in reference to condoms.)

When it comes to clichés, I’m your man. My philosophy is why take the road not taken when you can hit the hammer of the head and take the easy way out. That road not taken is going to have a lot of weeds and burrs. Who knows? It might even have some lions and tigers and bears, oh my. I know I would prefer being a cowardly lion than a dead one. So I’m taking heart and using my brain. I’m taking the Yellow Brick Road. If it was good enough for Dorothy, it’s good enough for me.

I just want you to know I got those parts of speech all wrangled and branded. Why, ladies and gentlemen, there isn’t an -ly adverb I haven’t used. And talk about split infinitives. Isn’t “to boldly go” so much sexier than “to go boldly”.

I think so. And so did James Tiberius Kirk. Otherwise he wouldn’t have written it in the Captain’s Log so many times. And after taking so much gup from Spock over “to boldly go does not compute”. Of course, it computes. It’s write there in the Captain’s Log. It may not be logical, but it sure is a Kirk-ism. Absolutely.

There I did it. I managed to put in an interjection. Don’t you think it spices up my writing a punch?

Unlike grammarians everywhere, I have a passion for the passive. When you think about it, you never want to take a pass on the passive if you want to be passionate. Why I used to date a girl who was all the time asking me, “Where were you last night?” If that ain’t passionate, I don’t know what is. And she said it so passionately. In spite of everything.

Uh-oh. I done gone and done it. I can hear them grammarians chomping at the bit, telling me not to use a sentence fragment. Here I go fragging my sentences all over the place. I can see the smoke coming out of their ears. Well, all I have to say is there just ain’t any pleasing some people. Like Abe Lincoln said, you can please some of the people all the time and you can please all the peeps none of the time. That leaves no time left for pleasing moi.

Anyway. (There I went and did it again.) If you’re looking for a writer who can write all formal like, I’m not your man. My motto, after all, is why not end a sentence with a preposition. Everybody does it. Oh, I know what my mother would say. “If Everybody jumped off a cliff, would you?” Of course, I wouldn’t. It’s a cliff, and I am afraid of heights.