It’s easy for people to mock the stock-formula book title schemes of writers like “The Bourne Identity” author Robert Ludlum (his Wikipedia page says “The (Proper Noun) (Noun)”) or “The Firm” author John Grisham (in a story by BJ Novak, he’s enraged when his publisher releases his latest novel as “The Thing” – a placeholder title he gives all his novels and forgot to replace as a formality when he turned it in). Continue reading →
Don’t use onomatopoeia. You know, when you’re reading a book, and you come across a part where a gunshot suddenly rings out, so you see written in the book: “BOOM! KABAM!” Or something loud falls, and you see it described by the word, “KA-POW!” Or the character can hear a calming stream: “swisssssh, swissssssh.” Perhaps as a writer, you’ve worked some onomatopoeia in to give readers a sense of the sound you want to convey.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post attacking the practical value of Creative Writing programs in colleges. Since then, I’ve been thinking about how to fulfill the desire many people look to those programs for: we all want a next step, a course of development, towards being a real writer. What is the development, if you don’t get it in a classroom?
Though not very glamorous, author is a “glamour profession” in that it does not depend on education, experience, and job hunting but on ineffable talent combined with pure-ass luck. This disorients most people, since other people’s dreams like “doctor” or “unscrupulous investment banker” do depend on education, experience, and job hunting and they follow a delineated path of milestones towards those dreams.
Furthermore, no one in a position of of advice-giving like teacher or career counselor or college counselor understands how authors become authors, so no one around you really seems to know how any of it works, and it takes about 30 years to figure it out on your own. Here’s some of it.
In the somewhat small medium-town of Hammond’s Down, Utah (small being a modifier, and medium town being the noun), there had always been a default pita place, by the name of Mr. Pita, where everybody went – for pitas. Hammond’s Down was one of those unremarkable college towns whose college was neither a massive land grant institution nor a highly-respected intellectual cloister but rather just one of those places people go when they have to go to college, and so far and wide attention was far away from Hammond’s Down, and its levels of quality for things like cuisines – while not awful – were never pushed forward by competition or rigorous opinions.
The family that ran Mr. Pita did so because their parents had, and the kids that ran Mr. Pita were mostly in high school: the college-goers flooded Mr. Pita when they got hungry at night, especially on weekends and Thirsty Thursdays, but disappeared entirely from town during Christmastime, Spring Break, and all of Summer. Everything was middling, and kind of perfunctorily default, but it was right there, so pita-eaters came.
Roland Moller, the small and earnest son of German immigrants, grew up in Hammond’s Down but Continue reading →