Monday, May 29, 2006

The Boy Who Smiled at Otters

Friends, it has been over half a year since Latigo Flint overcame 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.

I think it's a glory worth retelling.

From the archives - October 24, 2005:

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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. Both must be overcome before you proceed 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?


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UPDATE: May 29, 2006

In addition to a magnificent title, the perfect hero name, a spectacular opening line and a font that makes the first letter all giant and sweepy and frilly and stuff--there is apparently a fifth, super-secret major obstacle to writing a sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the French and Indian War because for some reason the rest actually didn't practically write itself.

I performed an exorcism on my keyboard, suspecting demonic possession and demolished furniture with headbutts in an attempt to improve my home's Feng Shui. When neither of those did the trick, I decided to drink myself to death--'cause that's always an option you know.

I'll let you know how that turns out.

3 Comments:

At 11:46 AM, Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

Here you go, Latigo, old buddy: The next line in your thousand-page opus:

"They smiled at him -- and so, by God, he smiled back!"

I don't know, maybe this is the last line in your thousand-page opus. Just get it in there somewhere.

 
At 11:11 PM, Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Man, I've got a lot of catching up to do.

I'm going to buy one of those Blackberries and have it receive all LF's blog posts so that even when I'm on vacation, I can devour each morsel in my hotel room.

 
At 10:31 PM, Blogger Latigo Flint said...

Simply spectacular Old Hoss. I've already decided it's my line. And honors don't come any higher than that.

Are you subtly implying I should be doing RSS feeds LBB? I'm just a squinty-eyed gunslinger born hopelessly out of time--I can't even spell RSS feed, much less set one up.

(Thank you by the way, and I hope you had a wonderful vacation--of course, the better they are, the worse the life you return to seems, so maybe I actually hope it sucked since I care for you so much.)

 

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