Thursday, March 25, 2010

Truth Revealed; Pro's Prose: Vonnegut at the Blackboard, and Vonnegut's 8 Rules

Happy Thursday my creative friends!

First, I shall cough up the truth versus lies from the Creative (Liar) Writing Award. I found it very interesting that the people who guessed correctly guessed with complete conviction and confidence, while the incorrect guesses were just a 'maybe'-type guess. Most interesting indeed.
So, I'm gonna start at the bottom and work backward, because most of you guessed the bottom as correct.

7) I never lay in the sun because I'm terrified of skin cancer. Uh-oh. I'm in trouble from Tara. Because this is a Bald Face Lie. I ADORE being in the sun. I am a beach baby if ever there was one. I grew up on the beach and have spent most of my adulthood on the beach and on boats. I also like my perky-ish booty to be non-pasty. The sun on my skin  heals my soul and blisses me out.

6) I love cute socks.  No, I don't. This is a lie. All socks freak me out.

5) My first car was an RX7. Lie. My first car was a hunter green, soft-top, convertible Triumph Spitfire. It broke down constantly. Cute, but unreliable. However, my second car was indeed a silver RX7. It was very reliable, I loved it, but no more than 2 small people could fit, therefore it cramped my social lifestyle. 

4) I hate the color pink. LIE! I LOVE pink! Really, it is one of my favorite colors, in all its shades. Pale pink tulips or peonies are my favorite bouquets. I'd drive an old pink thunderbird with fins in a hot second! (if they weren't so environmentally unfriendly/ gas-guzzley.) My favorite heels are pink (the cutest slingbacks you've ever seen). I really love almost every color, so it is hard to pick a favorite, but pink is up there at the top.

3) I drive a golf cart around my neighborhood with my dog on my lap. While this is technically a lie, I so want to!! Someday I will buy one (maybe a pink one! with a surfboard rack on top). In the meantime, I do walk my dog (with her pink leash) around my neighborhood.

2) I once kissed (only kissed, and only once) Billy Idol. Then I told him to bugger off. Ding-Ding-Ding, we have a winner! Truth. I was YOUNG (maybe I was 18, but Billy didn't know that) and 2 friends and I had backstage passes to a Billy Idol concert (Denver, Colo.) in the late 80's. After the concert, he asked my friends and I if we wanted to ride in his limo to the local hot dance club (it was called Confetti's). Naturally we did. (I was nervous the entire drive, in spite of the champagne, because I did not have a fake ID...yet. I was afraid they wouldn't let me in.) Of course, they let us all in and escorted us upstairs to the VIP lounge where we could look down on the "peasants" and the dance floor. After my second glass of champagne, he planted the kiss one me. I pulled back, smiled at him, and told him to dream on. Then I got up and grabbed my friends and walked downstairs to be a peasant. My friends and I danced the night away, later called a cab, and went home alone. FYI: Billy had no problem finding someone else to meet his needs. This is a true story. 

1) I have never broken a bone in my body. Lie. But, I have never worn a cast. I have broken toes and my tailbone, none of which can be casted.

Okay, I'm sure that is far more about me than you ever wanted to know. I feel vainglorious having spent that much time talking about myself. Thank you for playing along.

Now onto some Pro's Prose...

I found this something great yesterday at Lapham's Quarterly.  Before his death, Kurt Vonnegut gave this (rather funny, in his usual satirical manner) talk now dubbed Kurt Vonnegut at the Blackboard. If you click the link below you may read the 'talk". In case you are unfamiliar, Lewis Lapham is a national correspondent and editor for Harper's Magazine, and he also publishes Lapham's Quarterly, which I enjoy greatly. He had permission to reprint Kurt's talk, I think you will enjoy it, so go read it. Let me know what you think.

I LOVED Slaughterhouse Five, as many of  you know. (I've talked about it before).
So in keeping with the theme, I thought I would re-print Kurt's Eight Rules:
Kurt Vonnegut's Eight Rules On Writing...

In his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story (in my opinion, ANY length story):
  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
Vonnegut qualifies the list by adding that Flannery O'Connor broke all these rules except the first, and that great writers tend to do that.

And a few KV quotes for fun and further inspiration and because Dude was AWESOME.

"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different."

"I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center. "

"If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don't need an enemy. "

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country. "
~Kurt Vonnegut  (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007)



Chantel said...

I think I may just print those rules and frame them.

Your truths lend even greater depth to the picture I have painted of you in my mind! I too adore the sun, and waste hours in the summer with a book in hand lazing about in it. Pink clashes with my hair (chuckle) but the Idol kiss is fabulous!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Fact is stranger than fiction! That is one wild truth.

Anonymous said...

Great post, as usual. And that is one crazy truth!

laurel said...

Love your true story. Wowza.

I try to follow much of KV's advice, though I'd argue many break #8 and it works fine--if they withhold the why and how rather than the what. One can build intrigue without the reader being utterly confused.

DL Hammons said...'s really hard to discern colors when you're feeling around in the dark!!

A very interesting truth though.

Lola Sharp said...

Chantel, fellow sun worshipers unite. :o)

L., You said it. I don't know that my Idol truth is stranger than fiction, but I definitely have other truthful stories that ARE away, WAY stranger than fiction.

Elle, you are sweet. And I've got crazier stories.

Laurel, I agree, #8 and I don't don't see eye to eye either.

DL, Didn't you once kiss Lita Ford when you were but a whipper snapper? (sorry she was the only 80's rock girl I could think of. And she was awful. But she sorta has the female version of Billy Idol going, so work with me here:)

Summer said...

I heart Vonnegut. Those rules are awesome, but not as awesome as his first quote.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Great tips from a master. I especially love #6. I've finally gotten comfortable throwing my characters under the bus.

And that last quote of his really is scary.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Cool Billy Idol story!!!! And, I love the list of writing "do's," especially numbers 3 and 5. I'm working on the Snowflake Method, and one step asked me to write what each character (major AND minor) wants. It went so far as to ask for specifically what they want, both abstractly and concretely. The wheels were really turning when I worked through that step!

Great post, as always!!

sarahjayne smythe said...

Great story and great post. I may have to post those rules where I can see them every day. :)

Tara said...

I think I forgot to say it, but I figured Billy Idol was your truth - you're just cool like that. I'll skip the lecture - just know that it's not a pretty way to go...nuff said.

Love the list!! Number 5 - suweeeet! #3 - Bad memories, lol. We did an exercise in the forum I frequent where we had to write an entire scene using water as the prop!

Marla said...

See.....I SO know you! Bwahahahahaha

Piedmont Writer said...

I grew up on a beach and still smell like Coppertone which is how I KNEW you kissed Billy Idol.

Love that Vonnegut man, He's too freakin' smart by half.

mo.stoneskin said...

So what's wrong with cute socks?

I actually have never broken a bone. The closest I've come was a possibly chipped finger bone when a finger got slammed in a door but it turned out not to be.

Lola Sharp said...

Mo, you're a lucky man.

B. Miller said...

Nice! I loved this entry. BILLY IDOL KISSER!! How cool is that?! And the messages from the master... awesome. Your journal never fails to enrich my day. Thanks for posting, Lola!

La Belette Rouge said...

I would love to ride around my neighborhood in a golf cart with Lily. You have inspired that wish in me. Thank you!

How cool that you kissed Billy and then told him to bugger off. You are awesome!

Lola Sharp said...

Anne, Marla and Stephen KNEW they could see right through me.

Becky, Only once!!

Tara, i really do love the happy sun. thanks for not yelling at me.

Nicole, thanks. :o) (I don't think me and the snowflake method are compatible. I think I'd jab sharp sticks in my eyes. maybe when I grow up..)

SarahSmile, that's a good idea.

Stephanie, me too!

Sunny Summer, I love that fart around quote too. :o) He was a cool dude.

Lola Sharp said...

Marla, I know, you KNEW with 100% confidence!
So did Anne and Stephen.

You guys didn't even waffle.

Lola Sharp said...

LBR, I know, right? I so want to be that chick.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the Billy Idol story - way to go!!

Also love the quotes - they all made me laugh :)

Christi Goddard said...

"3) I drive a golf cart around my neighborhood with my dog on my lap. While this is technically a lie, I so want to!! Someday I will buy one (maybe a pink one!"

I immediately thought, "A pink dog?"

Shelley Sly said...

Loved reading your list, and how crazy/awesome about Billy Idol! Wow! :D

Postman said...

You were desired by Billy Idol.

[blinks in utter amazement]

Never let anybody tell you that wasn't an accomplishment. I'm in awe. Wow. And he planted one on you, too. And you told him to go blow. INCREDIBLE. You could start a cult with this, do you realize that?

Never liked Slaughterhouse-Five, always liked Vonnegut. These are some useful rules. I see the wisdom in "starting as close to the end as possible." That man had a way with words. Thanks for posting 'em.

P.S. Appropriately, I have nominated you for an award at my blog, From Me to You (you might have to scroll down a bit).

Susan Fields said...

Okay, so I guessed wrong, but who could know about Billy Idol? That's just wild.

Maggie May said...

Oh I love this post. I love Kurt- that last quote of his, in particular.

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

I've never seen these rules before. Thanks! I like #8. I don't write suspense or anything but I struggle with that one a little.

TechnoBabe said...

You have lived quite an interesting life and I know there is lots more to tell us.

Kazzy said...

I lu-huv sunning myself, but have really tried to be good in my old age. :)

Terresa said...

I love the last KV quote the best. He rocks my socks. Read Breakfast of Champions in high school and it literally (nearly literally) blew my mind. Kapow!

Chantel said...

Hey love, I'm off to teach today but head over to One 2 Try and sign up on the McLinky list--the Friday Follow! Smooches...

B. Miller said...

Hey Lola! I've given you an award! You should check it out at my blog. :D

May your pen be mighty

May your pen be mighty

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Lola Sharp
My name is Lola. (I'm not a showgirl) Yes, L-O-L-A Lola. It's the least of my worries. Let's move on, shall we? This blog is mostly about my misadventures on the journey to publication and beyond. My passion for lush prose, quirky characters, art, music, literature, performing arts and anything creative will be a major theme here. This journey of mine will not always be pretty. Much like rubbernecking a train wreck, I know sometimes you just can't help but look at the carnage that is often my life. So strap on your neck brace, helmet and 5-point harness and come along for the ride! Licentia poetica.
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