Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Sunday, December 13, 2020
I've been spending a lot of time watching reruns of old TV shows, which some claim is a good activity during stressful times. The theory is if you've already watched the TV episode or movie, you know what's going to happen next, and this is calming.
Except I was watching Eight Is Enough and thinking how the mother dies on that series and it occurred to me there were a LOT of shows where at least one parent had died. I could name 4 or 5 off the top of my head and then I kept remembering more. The length of the list may surprise you. It may make you say, what was the deal with all of these parents dying left and right? Why was this such a popular storyline?
The word 'popular' may seem wrong, but what other word can be used if the writers kept coming up with it to create prime time TV shows? Were they all working through deaths in their own families or did they wish their parents had died?
Difficult to say.
Some of the shows I recalled were old ones, from the 60s: The Andy Griffith Show, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, My Three Sons (which was a triple: Steve's wife plus both parents of Ernie), and Family Affair (a double: both parents of the three kids die, which is why they're being raised by Uncle Bill).
Then by the 70s the trend continued: The Brady Bunch (that one, as you recall, was a double --Carol's husband and Mike's wife), The Partridge Family, Good Times (with the most memorable TV grief moment going to the mom, played by Esther Rolle, as she smashed the punchbowl and said "DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!")
I hesitate to include Little House On The Prairie because, as you know if you watched the show, it takes place back when life was godawful and people really DID die left and right, so it made more sense. If we include this show, it was a quintuple (Albert's mother, Jonathan Garvey's wife, Sylvia's mother, and both parents of the Cooper twins).
Interesting side note: in real life, Laura Ingalls' daughter, Rose, burned down their house, by accident. Twice.
Laverne and Shirley makes the list because Laverne's mom had died when she was young. Diff'rent Strokes was a triple (Mr Drummond's wife plus both parents of Arnold and Willis). Webster was a double (football player's kid is orphaned and adopted by a teammate), Gimme A Break, My Two Dads, Eight Is Enough, The Facts Of Life (Natalie's dad) and Who's The Boss were all singles.
More: The Nanny, Silver Spoons, and Party Of Five, which was a double. I'm probably forgetting a few, but you see my point: this is a LOT of dying. And based on the fact you probably recognize many of these shows, we kind of have to say this was a popular theme. Why? We may never know.
Friday, December 11, 2020
Sunday, November 29, 2020
I'm still working on my first full length work of fiction, which was actually inspired by a real event that happened at my high school when I was 17. Because I wanted this to be a YA novel, I realized I might have a problem, telling a story set in the 80s to younger readers who might find themselves distracted each time the high school kids have no cell phones or texting or social media.
This is a significant problem because there's nothing worse than being in the middle of a story and suddenly having that ZONE broken, interrupting the flow. It can be a typo or an incorrect fact or just anything that has the zing of wrong, and it makes you stop, be puzzled, and then you have to try to get back into it again. Personally, when I find this happening two or three times, I often give up on the book I'm reading. I do this with irritation: why did the author make it hard for me to stay in the story?
So I don't want to do that to YA readers.
I wondered, maybe if enough 80s era details were in the story, this would solve the problem. But I don't think so. Any subtle 80s references would likely be missed or just be confusing to a 15 year old reader. Overexplaining just turns it into an 80s guide and goes off on a long road away from the actual story. Maybe in a TV show, this could be more easily done. Or maybe if I had more skill, I could figure out how to do it.
But working with what I have, I think the story has to be set in vague current times. Pre Covid time, but mid iphone time.
The focus needs to be on the kids and their story. The story is about how bad girls can be to other girls. That story is evergreen; it should be immediately relatable to girls 12-18 in any city anywhere.
Back to work.
Monday, November 9, 2020
You may have noticed, the USA is in a state of temporary wackadoo so this seems like a good time to try out some changes. When I first began this blog, I said I'd share what it's like to be an indie writer and I'm here to say, I'm ready to try something different.
The truth is an indie writer could write The Grapes of Wrath and very few people would ever see that book while a traditionally published writer could write Suzie Kabloozie And Her Dog Mahoozie and get a three book, 6 figure deal.
I used to think those success stories were rare. They are not. In fact, if I have to read about the success of one more peer, I will lose it. I want a three book deal. I want an agent. I want an advance and I want a Wikipedia page.
How to make this switch? To begin with, I need to change the genre I write. This may seem wackadoo but as I mentioned previously, the whole nation is in a state of change (to the degree that I half expect tomatoes to burst into song) so I'm changing too.
I've dedicated myself to a new project: a YA novel. I first became jazzed about this idea by joining a yearly writing event called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in which participants each write a 55,000 word novel in 30 days.
I plan to take more than 30 days but the event has caused me to try my hand at fiction, something I was hesitant to do.
Once the novel is complete, I plan to query agents and hopefully get representation.
What is the story about? It's about a high school cheerleading squad accused of contributing to the suicide of a classmate. For now, the working title is The Killing Of Jerrika.
So far, I'm enjoying this project tremendously. Just this afternoon I was trying to figure out, in one scene, what the family dog would be thinking. That is so much easier to understand than half of what is currently on the news.