How to End a Novel

The March 1971 issue of National Lampoon contained an article, “How to Write Good,” by my favorite writer at the mag back then, Michael O’Donoghue. In that article, in the section titled “Lesson 2 – The Ending,” O’Donoghue writes:

All too often, the budding author finds that his tale has run its course and yet he sees no way to satisfactorily end it, or, in literary parlance, “wrap it up.” Observe how easily I resolve this problem:

Suddenly, everyone was run over by a truck. -the end- Continue reading How to End a Novel

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Hack Writing 201: Dynamite Openings

Reading fiction manuscripts from a slush pile has gotten me thinking about opening lines. A dynamite opening is what separates the royalty checks from the rejection slips. Hemingway knew this. Fitzgerald knew this. All the greats knew this. Now, I’m revealing this insider’s secret to you. Simply stated, you want a few lines, right off the top, that will grab the reader and not let go. For example, here are the opening lines of an (unpublished) novel a friend worked on for years: Continue reading Hack Writing 201: Dynamite Openings

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How to Overcome Writer’s Block: Advice from a Write-aholic

I’m a write-aholic. I get writer’s block about as often as an alcoholic has a day where he just can’t force himself to drink. It doesn’t happen too often. So, maybe I’m not the best one to give advice on how to overcome writer’s block. Then again, maybe I am…

If I take my car in for an oil change and I have to sit around for half an hour in a Honda dealership waiting room, where the accommodations include weak coffee and back issues of People magazine, I write. I always carry a pen and notepad. I’m always writing something in my head, even when driving, walking, eating. I get it down on paper as soon as I’m able. I pull over to the side of the road if necessary. If I take myself out to breakfast, someplace where the coffee’s good and the refills keep coming, I write. As I write these words you’re reading now, I’m sitting under a tree in Red Rock Canyon while my dogs are frolicking in the creek. I get quite a bit of writing done on my daily dog walks.
Continue reading How to Overcome Writer’s Block: Advice from a Write-aholic

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The Las Vegas Art Scene – Sin City Goes Boho

Illustration by Joseph Watson

One interesting development in Las Vegas in these lean years is that the downtown area is turning into some kind of artists’ colony. There are galleries and poetry readings and street musicians and guerrilla theater and contortionists and coffee house hangouts and freaks carrying signs. It looks like Greenwich Village in the 1930s (like I was there), or SF’s North Beach in the 50′s (or there), or the Haight-Ashbury in the 60s (Yay!).

Continue reading The Las Vegas Art Scene – Sin City Goes Boho

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Dick-lit Tracy – Here Goes Nuthin’

I was sitting in my office late one night, staring at the pile of bills stacked up on my desk, wondering if I’d ever see another payday.

In walked a tall blonde in a short skirt.

“Mr. Snyder?” she said. “I need help.” Her lipstick was red. Her eyes were blue. Her voice was like maple syrup dripping down the side of a stack of flapjacks.

“It’s my husband,” she said. “I think he’s a vampire.”

A vampire? I can do vampires. I’m a write-aholic. I can write anything—for money. Continue reading Dick-lit Tracy – Here Goes Nuthin’

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TOM WAITS GETS LOST IN TRANSLATION

Scarlett Johansson sings
Tom Waits: Singin’ in the Pain…

After posting my review of Bukowski’s Post Office on Monday, I became curious about what average readers were saying about Bukowski these days, so I went to goodreads to check out the reader reviews. One interesting thread started when a reader posted a comment that reading Bukowski always made her think of Tom Waits. The thread went on for some time as many others agreed.

I’ve long been a Tom Waits fan and just reading the reviews made me want to listen to one of his old albums. Looking through my CD rack, I had to laugh when I came upon “Anywhere I Lay My Head,” a CD I’d purchased a couple years ago and had forgotten about. Continue reading TOM WAITS GETS LOST IN TRANSLATION

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