An Uncle Bardie Writing Tip: The Odor That Keeps On Giving

So this is the twenty-seventh month of writer’s block. You look at your last few words of Chapter 13, better known to you as “The Martians Need Tweezers”. You love the characters and you love the plot. But somehow your muse slipped on a banana peel and had to go to the ER. The doctors tell you she is going to recover, but, for now, she is in a coma in intensive care. You just don’t know what to do. You have a royal case of the stuck in a holeskies and don’t know how to dig yourself out.

Well, Uncle Bardie is coming to your rescue. He has the perfect first aid to get you through.

All you need do is introduce a new character and a new smell. Every time Mr. Newby walks into a room, the other characters discuss the character and the smell. Here’s an example of how that might work:

It’s a party. All the neighborhood is there. Two neighbors are in the corner, discussing the world situation.

Then Neighbor 2 asks Neighbor 1, “What’s that smell?” He has concern in his voice.

“Oh, that’s John,” Neighbor 1 says. “Quite pungent, isn’t he?”

“Who invited him to the party?”

“The Author.”

“Well, can’t we get rid of him?” Neighbor 2 wants to know.

“I wish,” Neighbor 1 says.

Neighbor 2 is ready for some action. “Then let’s do it.”

“Hold on now. You know what happened to the last Character who tried to do something like that?”

“No,” Neighbor 2 says, kind of worried now.

“He ended up in a lake with a bullet in his head. Author was not pleased at Mr. Character’s reaction to the introduction of Character 2 in the story. I think Mr. Character was a bit jealous. After all, he had done all that work, slogging his way through ten chapters. Then Author has to introduce Character 2 at Plot Point One to give him some competition for his Lady Love, Miss Sure Thing. Well, Miss Sure Thing was no longer Miss Sure Thing. Mr. Character took care of Character 2 all right. Author was  mad about that turn of events. Not only did Mr. Character end up with a hole in his head. Author made him suffer before he went to the Character Graveyard.”

“Hmmm…” Neighbor 2 says.

“But John over there, I don’t know about. He sure has a good case of fouluptheroomitis. Unfortunately it’s quite common in new characters these days. I do hear that they have a vaccine in the works for it.”

“That’s good to know. You think I would get some brownie points from Author if I went over and talked to Smelly John.”

“I doubt it,” Neighbor 1 says. “But you can try.”

Neighbor 2 drifts over to the other side of the room.

Neighbor 1 says to a friend, “Guess there goes another smoozer.”

Friend says, “Yeah, the smoozers are always the first to go. Author sure hates a butt kisser.”

As you can see by this example, this exercise should get the story back on track. It sure helped me.

haiku for the day: daily art

Often successful writers are hit with The Question. You know the one. You’ve probably been asked it a few times yourself. Where do you get your ideas?

Depending on my mood, sometimes I say Jesus, and sometimes I say the Wicked Witch of the West. Most of the time I am just as clueless as the person asking the question. 

Mostly the process is as mysterious to we writers as it is to the questioner. My best answer is to look and listen. But that’s not really helpful to the questioner. That’s why we’ve come up with this Muse. How she’ll take a two-by-four and whack us a good one across the side of the head.

I am serious about the listening and the looking. The thing is that we have to respond when we hear something or observe something that does hit us across the side of the head. I once heard Neil Young say that when he gets an idea he has to drop everything and go and work on it. The only time he doesn’t is if there is a family situation. He didn’t say this but I am sure he is afraid of what might happen if he didn’t respond. And usually it’s a most inconvenient time. Like I’m in the shower.

an empty bus bench
underneath a late night moon
an Edward Hopper

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: The River

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight is the song, Bruce Springsteen’s “The River”.

I first saw this song performed watching the “No Nukes: Musicians United For Safe Energy Concert” Documentary. As soon as I heard it, I knew this Bruce Springsteen knew the kind of place I’d sprang from. You don’t write songs like this ‘less you’ve lived it. And I was on board the E Street Band express.