Saturday, April 23, 2011


George Carlin once said that he believed that his comedy was successful because he spoke of things that were Universal.  When you can relate, it's funny.  When you can think, "Been there, done that," the story is humorous.  That's why bodily functions always get a laugh, everyone does it!  When it comes to writing a humorous scene I try to keep that in mind.  I try to sprinkle humor into all of my writing.  I am not looking for the laugh out loud, I just like it when there is a smile once in a while to go with the drama/action/ or whatever else I am offering up.

There is a crop of reality video clip shows on TV right now that are extremely funny.  They are Sophomoric at best, but they are always good for a laugh.  (Who can keep from laughing when someone takes a pratfall?)  It is a lot easier to watch something funny than it is to read somethin funny.  Seeing a pie in the face always gets a laugh, but try incorporating a scene in a story describing a pie in the face: reading about it is not so funny.  The reader might smile at it (I doubt it) but seeing it makes it so much funnier.

Smart banter and dialogue is a writer's “pie in the face.”  Reading sharp conversations, with humorous interaction between characters makes the reader smile.  Aaron Sorkin is a master at this.  His dialogue is wonderfully quick and witty.  How great it would be to think of those great things to say in everyday conversation.  Of course he is lucky, he writes so actors can say his words and audiences get to see and hear the funny.  It makes it easier to get the laugh but not easier to write.  Sorkin is one of my favorite writers and he deserves every accolade he has ever received, in my opinion.

I don’t wish to write like Aaron Sorkin, I strive to write in my own style, but I try to add humor to my story, the way he does, without being trite, crass or silly.  Comedy is hard, comedy dialogue is harder still. 

RIP George, thanks for the funny.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A short primer on electronic reading

What wonderful times we live in! We can communicate from almost anywhere, access information that used to take forever to find, and be entertained by a variety of devices that were science fiction a few short decades ago. 

Convenience is the watchword of the day and one of the biggest advances in the digital age is the “e-Reader.” Powerful devices that connect to traditional booksellers through the Internet and allows potential readers to access countless books, magazines, newspaper and other print media with the push of a button. These devices are sometimes scorned by some purists who lament the lack of the feel and the smell of paper but the bottom line is the e-Reader is here to stay and it has changed the way we read and purchase the printed word. 

Amazon has a Kindle. Barnes & Noble has a Nook. Sony has a Reader and there are other companies who have their own versions. But you don’t need one of these gadgets to read e-books. If you all ready have an iPod/iPad or any desktop/laptop computer, tablet or smart phone, you can access e-books. There’s an App for that! 

What used to be delivered on some sort of media, like a CD or a floppy disc (remember those?) can now be streamed to any device that has access to the Internet. No waiting, instant gratification—all at a reduced price, because there is no box or CD to drive the cost of production up.

So, if you have one of these magical devices, you can be reading almost any book your heart desires in a matter of minutes, and in some instances seconds. They can be purchased in most cases at less than an actual book costs, and sometimes for free. Just download the App from Amazon or Apple and have a great read.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Favorite Authors Part 2

Long before there was John Grisham and Tom Clancy there was Alistair Stuart MacLean.  He was born in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, April 21, 1922 and he was the son of a Scottish Minister.  He died in Munich, Germany in February 2, 1987 and was buried Celigny, Switzerland. In his final years he was destroyed by alcoholism.  He once said that he wrote fast, taking only thirty-five days to complete a novel, because he disliked writing and didn't want to spend much time at it. He also claimed never to re-read his work once it was finished and to never read reviews of his books. According to the New York Post, MacLean once explained: "I'm not a novelist, I'm a storyteller. There's no art in what I do, no mystique." Despite his disclaimers, MacLean's many adventure novels sold over 30 million copies and were translated into a score of languages.

His adventure novels thrilled me as a teenager and young adult and I read and re read them, enjoying them to the fullest.  Many people would recognize his titles because they were often adapted for the movies.  (Some were successful, others not so much.)  All of his stories were character driven thrillers that were a joy on the page.

He also crossed many a genre line.  Even though all of his novels were action adventure he mixed the western of Breakheart Pass, with the war dramas Where Eagles Dare, Guns of Navarone and its sequel Force Ten From Navarone.  Ice Station Zebra was in the frozen north as was my favorite, Night Without End. 
In Night Without End, MacLean takes the reader on a journey through the darkness that would bring murder and betrayal and cowardice.  A tale of secret identities; that is a constant puzzle to figure out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.  MacLean’s novels have stood the test of time and are just as exciting today as they were when they were first published.  They are truly excellent writing, and a joy to read.