The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing, But When I Find Out I’ll Tell You

Posted by BigWords on August 22, 2009

Having written a substantial amount on several WIPs, I find myself jotting down the odd (and I mean ODD) line which throws my brain off course. The use of particular phrases and ideas out of context seems to be counter intuitive, but there’s a long tradition in writing of coming up with new uses for stale bones. The lines which are currently bothering me were written within an hour of each other, and both push my western – strange as it is – into a different place altogether.

I never thought about writing a western before I came up with the imagery of a man in a preacher’s outfit, shot to ribbons, riding into the desert. I added in a shoot-out, where he spouts lines from the bible as he blows a bunch of bounty-hunters away, then discovered that the story had cursed gold as well. It’s a mix of at least a dozen sub-genres as it is, but the addition of my latest lines makes me think that there might be further twists in store.

There’s no set plan, and I’m throwing everything in the mix. It ain’t pretty at the moment, but I’m sure that the idea has legs. My problems lie with this:

She had a body to kill for, which The Reverend had done. Repeatedly.

It’s like something out of a film noir, and I really like the line, but does it feel like it comes from a western? Hell no. It’s only marginally better than the other line which follows in quick succession:

She was as throaty and chesty as a bad cold.

What the fuck? I’m suddenly channeling the spirit of Spillane… I’m not easily influenced by outside sources, mostly because my ideas are never cookie-cutter, genre-safe stories, but rather they tend to sprawl over several areas which don’t quite have a common ‘voice’. I like throwing people off in the wrong direction before tightening the focus back to a single point. I’m a little worried that this particular tale might be getting away from me.

It wouldn’t be the first time I have sent a story reeling off course with an out-of-place word or sentence, and this is what I may be doing. Again. The ‘music’ of language is too interesting to listen to while I am playing messing around with character, and the two aforementioned lines were what the story pointed to. Do I let the story dictate the style, or are those lines too far from a traditional western? Hmmm…

A couple of comedy moments are slightly out of place amongst the endless catalogue of violence and pain, but those I can live with as ‘artistic statements’ or… something. A character who has been set on fire is used to light the MC’s cigarette at one point, and at another point a heroic rescue is foiled by the injured character being eaten alive by coyotes. Lovingly described, as the character wonders why he can’t wiggle his toes any more.

In a bid to straighten out what I wanted to do, because relaxation works wonders, I played Call Of Juarez for a while. It’s near enough to a old 70s western movie to fuel my imagination, but I began noticing all of the minor irritations which the game has. Even trying to watch Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid – a brilliant film – isn’t appeasing the little gray cells. Gah! My brain is completely fried.

I’m blaming exhaustion on the current writing mash, and I’m sure the tone will settle when I can spend a few days relaxing at the end of my course. Of course, when I relax I tend to drink, and there’s always the worry that I’ll end my western with the MC being kidnapped by aliens. When I work out what the hell I’m doing, I’ll keep everyone informed.

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3 Responses to “I Don’t Know What I’m Doing, But When I Find Out I’ll Tell You”

  1. Anthony.C said

    A online video named ”The YES Movie” got some great interviews with successful young writters and speakers today. Share here with all the writters!

    ”The YES Movie” http://www.TheYESmovie.comproduced by Louis Lautman

    Keep up your good work!

  2. hettie said

    If the lines work… add comic relief… or just feel RIGHT, then leave.

    You said yourself this is not exactly genre specific… Keep yourself out of the box!

  3. bigwords88 said

    I’ve pondered some strange additions to this WIP already, including the addition of zombies, a necrophiliac bounty hunter and a native American who can see the future. It’s anything but normal, though the eccentricities are piling up like a car crash.

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