DAVID NEES

Creating new worlds, one story at a time

Tag: thriller

Musician’s Muse

I’ve had a Dan Stone novel in my head for a while but I’ve had to set up the character, and frankly, I didn’t think I had the skill to write the story a year and a half ago. I think I’m ready to try, but only after finishing my Mexico story. In this new story, Dan falls in love with a musician.  I’m interested in the unlikely pairing of a man of action, ostensibly without much in the way of artistic sensitivities, with a world-class artist.  And, further, how he becomes her muse.

Over the past year or more, as my mind had rambled over this theme, I found myself remembering an obscure book I had read years ago about the Spanish art of flamenco.  Now flamenco is often thought of as a form of guitar playing or aggressive tap dancing with much rhythmic clapping.  There are those elements, to be sure, but flamenco is really about the singer and the song.

Deep in the back streets of Grenada, Spain, you can find dark clubs, where you can hear the raw, gypsy-inspired flamenco.  It’s all about the songs; songs of raw emotion where the singer unabashedly shows his or her pain.  The songs are about a lost love, the love of a city or culture now gone, the singer torn from his or her home and roots.  The songs speak about pain and heartbreak being a part of life; a part one cannot escape.  If one has life, one has pain; there is no avoiding it.  You can let the pain eat you or you can force it through you and out into song.  In song you can let out the raw emotions, unashamed, unapologetic and, so, for a moment, shed your pain by sharing it with others.

The guitarist plays in an extravagant style that mimics the raw expression of the singer.  It provides a suitable fill and accompaniment for the rough-edged singing.  The dancing and clapping, sometimes done by the singer, provide the cadence and rhythm to the singer’s emotional expressions.

The best flamenco is found in the bars and clubs filled with small audiences.  The singer does not send out all that emotion, that crying out for what has been lost, that pain, into the vacuum that can often be found in a large concert hall.  The singer is communicating to his or her audience, looking to connect, to draw the audience into their pathos.  “You understand my pain.  Let me tell you more about my broken heart.  I see it in you. I want you feel it like I do.”  The singer connects.  The audience experiences the catharsis the singer goes through.  Everyone absorbs the sadness, the tragedy felt through the song and all go home washed in that experience.  I wonder whether or not the best flamenco singers could perform without an audience.

So, in my new story (still in my head), the protagonist finds he is touched by the artistry of this world-class musician.  This connection he experiences starts to feedback to her and she finds herself opening up her art to become more expressive.  She wants to touch him (her immediate audience).  He becomes her muse, and out of this synergy her music and a love story grows.

The musician in my story is like the flamenco singer without the rawness of expression.  Interestingly, I heard of a famous pianist (from Argentina) who retired from concert performances and would only play small recitals.  After some years of performing in large concert halls, she found them to be too sterile, too draining.  The smaller venues gave her the feedback loop she needed as an artist, the connection to the audience that fed her artistic expression instead of draining it.  Maybe the artist needs the audience.  Maybe the audience completes the loop of creativity and enriches both parties. Yes, I understand many artists would create even if no one listened to or looked at their work. But in the performance arts—music, dance, acting—the audience is perhaps a critical part of the creative process.

That’s what I’m going for as part of my story.  It should be fun to write and bring an interesting interlude to the middle of all the thriller action.  Let me know what you think.

PIcure is from a youtube video by Eli Ramirez. You can find the video here.

Genre Switching (not Gender Switching)

Genre switching; That’s not gender switching, but something more literary than physical. It’s what I’m going to attempt. Since I started writing I’ve had a desire to write in the “thriller” genre. As fate would have it, my first novel was inspired by a post apocalyptic story, so I began there. Post apocalypse (PA) stories have a certain freedom to them. You can create whatever type of world you want to put your protagonist into, but they do require you to build that world.

A thriller on the other hand exists within the framework of a known world. Admittedly it’s not a world in which most normal people exist. Thrillers are what they are because the characters experience life events far outside of normal; that’s why we read them.

But there are similarities:   both types of work have lots of action, a protagonist who must overcome challenges, and generally an antagonist to defeat. There can be fantastical situations to overcome (high tech dangers stopping short of science fiction) which can be taken further in PA literature.

My challenge, and it’s a bit scary, is that my readers have come to me through their interest in post apocalyptic or dystopian literature. Now I’m going to offer them something different. Will this fall flat? Who knows? But it is a concern to me as I approach publishing.

I take comfort that my first novel, Jason’s Tale, started from nowhere; I was non-existent on Amazon before publishing the story. However, it rose to reach #1 in both PA and dystopian genres. So I hope my first thriller, Payback, can be successful as well; (maybe not that successful as there are some real super stars in this genre). You can order the ebook as a “pre-order” on Amazon. When it is published in August, you’ll be sent the book automatically.

At least I now have a group of readers who know I exist and my hope is that many of them will follow me to this new novel. I’m working hard to make the writing my best. While I’ve read some PA novels that were not well written but did well in sales ranking, ButI firmly believe quality forms the basis of all successful writing in the long term.

Grunt work; that’s what I’m now I’m engaged in. The novel is written and has had one edit pass. But three trusted beta readers have commented that while most of the story is prime-time quality (yea!), the first part needs work. After the opening chapter, which they think is good, the story gets a bit lost in the “back story” that explains how the first chapter could have happened. It goes on for about fifty pages.

Structure/restructure: The work now is about structure, or restructure. This is not as creative as the original writing but has to be done carefully. A story becomes interlocked in many ways, so to take it apart one has to be very careful in order to not result in a chopped up narrative that doesn’t flow easily. Big time writers probably have staffs to work on issues like these. The rest of us have to figure it out for ourselves. That can actually be a good thing, providing lessons along the way. It’s just a bit daunting and different from the writing part. Luckily my issues are at the front where things are not strongly interlocked.

My first pass at this resulted in shaving the story around the edges. I took out a scene in the look-back part that I didn’t like and streamlined some others. I cut out five pages of the back story, but I’m not sure I’m there. The only thing to do is try another version with more serious chopping. First I’m going to read through what I changed to see if anything else jumps out at me. Waiting for the obvious solution to show up, but what the hell do I do if it doesn’t?

Oh, well, I’ve got a couple of weeks to solve this in order to still meet my August deadline. More to come on the polishing work. This is going to be good. A writer friend of mine says he can’t do a critical read because he gets so into the story he’s just turning pages without stopping; music to an author’s ears. Check out the book Here and set up your pre-order; coming soon in August!

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