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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Guest Author: Dylan Brody

John and I met Dylan Brody in our Van Nuys days when our dogs introduced us at the dog park. You may be familiar with Dylan: he's a recurring guest on John Rabe's Off Ramp on KPCC, and he regularly performs live in the Los Angeles area and around the country (check his website for his schedule). Dylan's Modern Depression Guidebook is available on Amazon. His promo video for the Guidebook made me laugh out loud. Please welcome today's guest author, Dylan Brody.
At some point as you put together your novel you’ll get stuck. It happens to everyone. When it happens imagine yourself inside the scene or directly involved in the action and pay attention to things that didn’t seem important until you put your focus on them.

Are there sounds you or your characters hear that you hadn’t noticed before? A smell in the air? What are the small things the characters do with their hands?

As you begin to flesh out these tiny details, you will find they serve you in larger ways. If Deloris twists a strand of hair around her finger as she thinks, the same gesture may be used later to let us in on the fact that she’s thinking without telling us. If Givenchy Gentlemen hangs in the air when Paul arrives on the scene, dark-haired and arrogant, we may know that a deception is in place when the scent of Givenchy Gentlemen accompanies a dark-haired, arrogant man who introduces himself as Frederick.

The more you allow yourself to sink into the reality you create, to take in the details and report on them, the more life the story takes on for you and the more its own natural path reveals itself.

Many writing teachers give the instruction to show, rather than tell. This cannot be accomplished, though, until you begin to see, rather than invent.  The farther you sink into the imagined reality of the world you seek to reveal, the more you will be able to relate your experience there through the senses rather than through exposition. It is one thing to say that a scene takes place in a doll shop. It is quite another to place dolls, porcelain and bright-eyed, in careful rows on shelves from which they can look down on arriving customers, each hoping in her inanimate heart to be taken from the musty, humid orphanage for abandoned childhood companions to a bright new home with a nursery and a Labrador. It is one thing to say that a place is dark and dusty. It is another thing entirely to watch the slow descent of motes through the single, pencil-thin shaft of sunlight that slants downward through a bullet-hole in one of the five foil-blacked windows.

Being stuck need not be an indication of writer’s block. It is merely a reminder to sink deeper, take in the details. What do you see, hear, smell, feel? See. Hear. Smell. Feel. Write.

20 comments:

Bellis said...

Just watched the promo video and couldn't stop laughing. How come I've never heard of Dan before? He could write for Larry David.

Joan Lindsay Kerr said...

Bellis, I "discovered" Dylan quite by accident by hearing one of his brilliant stories on satellite radio. You can find lots more of his work on YouTube and he has several fabulous CDs that can be downloaded fron Amazon or his own website.

Petrea Burchard said...

He probably has done some TV writing, Bellis. I never asked him. And it's Dylan! On his website, you can hear his story, "A Child's Christmas in Brief," where he tells you he was named for Dylan Thomas. I think it's the only line that doesn't get a laugh but probably not the only line that's true.

Hi Joan, thanks for your visit. The guy's prolific, isn't he? I like the storytelling delivery that is funny without being a barrage of jokes, like a stand-up.

Dylan said...

Bellis, It always pleases me greatly to hear that I've made someone laugh!

Joan! I'm so pleased to find you here. After thirty years or so in the business, it is a delight, at last, to be discovered!

Paula L. Johnson said...

Good post! I don't believe in writer's block…just writer's …pause.

Your "sink deeper" advice is applicable to more than fiction. It makes sense for writing comedy, brochures, web content, etc.

dive said...

Now that I've finished laughing I'm depresssed again, because Dylan's book is only available over here as a Kindle edition. As soon as I can get a readable (preferably paper) edition here in England I'll be buying it.
Thank you, Dylan, and thank you Petrea for the introduction.

John Sandel said...

Great stuff, Dylan. I wonder how we can get your book into the Romney campaign's office's—they've gotta be pretty depressed today.

Ms M said...

Good writing tips. And I'll be sure to consult "the Guidebook" when my next depression hits.
Thanks, Dylan!

Katie said...

Great pointers about getting unstuck when writing. Love the description of the doll shop! Funny promo video for the Guidebook. At least now I know what I am -- a deluded chuckle monkey! I'll check Dylan's schedule and maybe he'll be in NorCall soon. Hope to see you Dylan!

Margaret said...

great post. Best of luck to you, Dylan.

Petrea Burchard said...

I hadn't known about the Guidebook until recently, when Dylan and I reconnected on Twitter. I suggest you see him live, if you get the chance. He's a wonderful storyteller. You can check out a few of his stories on video at his website.

Dylan said...

Dear Dive, if you go to Autharium.com you can get the book as a .pdf, readable on any computer!

Dylan said...

Absolutely right! Sinking in always helps to free the imagination and silence the editor.

Adele said...

I laughed out loud, too! Anyone who can seamlessly connect President Taft's approval rating with the Kardashians is Golden in my book (and I will now read yours). Great writing tips. Thanks, Dylan!

Dylan said...

I'm so glad to hear that the advice in the article is useful. More, I'm vastly impressed with the level of discourse here in Petrea's corner of the cyberverse. Where did all you lovely people come from?

Susan Campisi said...

Petrea and PDP have a gravitational pull, Dylan. Didn't you know?

I'm late but I laughed out loud like everyone else at that video. Funny stuff! Thanks for the great writing tips. I'll try to make it to your Culver City reading in August. And thank you, Petrea, for introducing us to another local author.

Petrea Burchard said...

Susan, you're being nice. But we do like to talk about writing, and folks are pretty supportive. Plus we like funny. Who doesn't like funny?

Dylan, thanks for posting today. You class up the joint.

dive said...

Many thanks for the link, Dylan. Your book is sitting on my desktop and about to guide me through my depression.
Cheers!

Dylan said...

Petrea, in order to help me class up the joint, I wore cuff links while I wrote the piece for your blog. Nothing else. Just cuff links. Classy, classy cuff links.

Petrea Burchard said...

Hey Dive, that's very cool! I hope the book serves to delight you in spite of yourself.

Dylan, thanks for the visual. I believe there's a photo accompaniment on your website...