Monday, October 24, 2005

The Boy Who Smiled at Otters

There are three major obstacles to overcome if you are to write a sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the French and Indian War.

The title is one.

Well no problem there--Latigo Flint has come up with a magnificent title. The title of Latigo Flint's sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the French and Indian War shall be The Boy Who Smiled at Otters.

The second and third obstacles: Coming up with a perfect name for the Boy, and writing the opening line, respectively. These need to be solved simultaneously because the hero's name must appear in the opening line--it is how sweeping historical novels about love, anguish and redemption are done.

But Latigo Flint is having some trouble with this part. Evidence:

Nesbit Shacklethorne was born in the tiny clearing between a fort and a stream.

That's crap. Without question that's a crap way to open a sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the French and Indian War. But is it crap because of the boy's name or the rest of the line? This is the difficulty Latigo Flint currently faces. First we try a few different names.

Tavin Flannery was born in the tiny clearing between a fort and a stream.

Roger Nightshade was born in the tiny clearing between a fort and a stream.

Gunderson Smith was born in the tiny clearing between a fort and a stream.

Not working. Then we have an interesting idea:

No one ever knew the name of the boy who was born in the tiny clearing between a fort and a stream.

Clunky. Not to mention we suddenly realize we're going to have a devil of a time coming up with interesting ways to identify our hero over the course of a thousand pages.

Perhaps the problem is with the line. We try some alternatives:

Nesbit Shacklethorne was born to the echoes of canon fire and the burble of a nearby stream.


Nesbit Shacklethorne's earliest memories were of long parapet shadows on the riverbank where his mother washed linen.


Damn and damn.

Okay, can't hurt to try to get the otters in there right off the bat. Um, let's see--

For as long as he could remember, Nesbit Shacklethorne liked otters.

...

...

...

My god.

And just like that, there it is. Latigo Flint has just surmounted the three major obstacles to writing a sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the French and Indian War.



The Boy Who Smiled at Otters
by Latigo Flint

For as long as he could remember, Nesbit Shacklethorne liked otters.




The rest should practically write itself.

(Oh, one more question--what font do you use to get the first letter, in this case "F", to be all giant and sweepy and frilly and stuff?)

17 Comments:

At 10:55 PM, Blogger The Assimilated Negro said...

definitely gonna be a classic.

I think a font option might be Zapfino.

holla!

 
At 5:02 AM, Blogger greta said...

I breathlessly await your sweeping historical romance:

A boy.
An industrious water-dwelling rodent.
A love which dare not speak its name.

 
At 6:20 AM, Blogger Monkeypotpie said...

I think you've forgotten one obstacle.....

Who will play Nesbit in the sure-to-be-Oscar-Award-winning film adaptation of your sweeping historical novel?

 
At 7:51 AM, Blogger Lance Manion said...

I know artists hate when people mess with their creations, but I'm going to take a stab at this one,

Betwixt a redoubt and a brook, Nesbit Shackleton was born. His first cries were echoed by the thunder of the fort's cannon. His first laughter called to the otters of the brook.

Sure, it's not just one sentence. You have to be writing at a squinty eyed gunslinger level to pull that off.

 
At 9:38 AM, Blogger darthmoridin said...

Bickham Script MM would be solid, yo.

 
At 9:40 AM, Blogger Sharon said...

Or you could just get to the crux of it:

Nesbit Shacklethorne was born in a tiny clearing between his mother's legs.

Well, maybe not.
It has all the ingredients of a best-seller, though. I'd buy it.

 
At 10:30 AM, Anonymous SpyScribe said...

I have always said that the key to a sweeping historical novel is to reference a mustelid in the title.

 
At 10:52 AM, Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

I don't know about the "F", but you can get the "O", as in Otter, at www.photoshop.com/otter/Shacklethorn

 
At 11:56 AM, Blogger Blog ho said...

homo font. it's the technical term in the biz.

 
At 1:30 PM, Blogger Jinxy said...

Copperplate Gothic Bold.

It has "gravitas".

 
At 2:27 PM, Blogger tabitha jane said...

latigo, you should definitely do this
it is a contest/challenge to write an entire novel in one month . . . i think you'd do fine. not just fine--fantastic!

 
At 5:49 PM, Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

No joke, you do have a way with names.

I liked every one of them.

 
At 12:43 PM, Blogger Ghost Dog said...

Glad you didn't go with Gunderson Smith. It's too plain for such an epic.

 
At 12:59 PM, Blogger ty bluesmith said...

you knock my socks off sometimes, dude.

great writing.

 
At 1:25 PM, Blogger Teaspoon said...

when does the paperback come out?

 
At 5:37 PM, Blogger Trevor Record said...

Latigo, I think you're on to something. From now on, I will no longer plan anything I write beyong the introduction. As long as you get that right, you're sure to rope the reader into the rest of your book no matter what you have to say.

 
At 11:38 PM, Blogger Latigo Flint said...

Thank you T.A.N. and I do warmly holla... back.

I can't tell you what a profound honor it is to have an Assimilated Negro post a comment on my internet journal.

(And a year ago, if you had asked me to calculate the odds I would ever get to say something like that... well, they would have been slim, let's leave it at that.)

Just so we're on the same page Greta. (So to speak.) Nesbit Shacklethorne does NOT have intercourse with the otters, he simply likes them a great deal... and smiles at them. I'm certain you were not thinking the former, but wanted to clarify nonetheless.

Good god Monkeypotpie, you're right. Um, let's see... top choices would be: Jay Baruchel, DJ Qualls or Beck, followed closely by Dwight Yoakam, Nick Cannon or the Verizon spokesman. That's the short list.

You changed his name Lance, and it made me weep. (Name changing is the one thing I can't abide.) Other than that I liked it, kinda.

See DMor, that font even sounds cool. Sight unseen I'm sold.

Sharon, when I get stuck, (so to speak) you're most assuredly going to ghostwrite to the end for me.

Yes Spyscribe, you have mentioned this many times. But I never happened to have a dictionary on me--which is why I just nodded blankly and studied the drink menu for the rest of the night.

But Hoss, my sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the French and Indian War doesn't start with the letter "O"--it starts with an "F"!!!

Ah, thank you Ho. Again you have proved invaluable. (See kids, it's good to have connections in the biz... that's why it's so important to network and brownnose.)

Hello Jinxy, thank you for the suggestion. And I am a pretty big fan of gravitas, afterall.

I appreciate your vote of confidence Tabitha Jane, but I'm afraid 50,000 words in one month would cut much too far into my drinking time.

And LBB, no joke, I spend way too long thinking of them.

I came to the same conclusion Ghost Dog. In the end it's really more of a hobo name, isn't it?

Thank you tblue. You hit the keys mighty fine yourself if I do say.

Sweeping historical novels about love, anguish and redemption don't come out on paperback until the author is dead TSP. So give it a couple years.

The less planning the better Trevor Record. That's what I think. Instinct and bumping into things and forgetting to pack underwear... these are strains of triumph's melody.

Ooh crap, look at that line right there. Majesty! I copyright that line goddamn it!!!

 

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