play/writing

1

My actress friend tested yesterday for a guest spot on a popular television show. It’s a good show, acclaimed, with a strong following, and I’d love to see her on it; but she was less than thrilled with the experience. The dialogue was not exactly stimulating. “Male fantasy dialogue,” she explained. “They mostly hire models for this show, you know, hot girls who can barely act, so they keep the lines as basic as possible.” Her character is Hot Chick In Car Who Pulls Up To Star and Invites Him To Party/Sex. She demonstrated some of the lines to me and my immediate response was, banal dialogue or no, Hey, she’s good, I bet she gets it. She was less sure, because she’d admitted to the casting director that she was hungover (it was the day after the Oscars and post-Oscars parties) as part of an apology for what she considered unprofessional behavior (she felt spacy and had trouble following cues), and then was kicking herself for the unprofessional behavior of admitting to the casting director that she was hungover. But last night she got a callback. In any case, she’s happy about booking her pilot, so the stress is off for the summer and any job right now is icing on the cake. (The show she is currently on is on hiatus.)

David Spade keeps IM’ing her. “I have to admit he’s really funny,” she said. “I can see why he gets girls, even though he’s small.”

2

I started a short novel called SHADOW HILL. In many ways it’s kind of an experiment — something to play with while I map out the next two novels (the YA follow-up to UNINVITED and the sequel to the sequel of BLOODANGEL). I’m working off a loose outline but the point is to write without overthinking the story and see where it takes me — just let it loose and get it done in weeks not months. I remember when Poppy Z Brite was talking about using plot as a kind of scaffolding on which to hang the other things she was much more interested in — such as character and setting — and that’s how I feel about this particular story. As a general rule I’m fascinated by complex, multilayered narratives told from different perspectives; I find a real intellectual satisfaction in that, investigation and revelation and resolution and the pieces all fitting together and illuminating each other. Which means I tend to outline a lot, and mull things over a lot, but the downside is that I can think myself right out of the writing groove; and if I’m not writing, even if I’m doing a bunch of other writing-related things, I get anxious and edgy. So the purpose of SHADOW HILL is to keep me in that groove — which makes me a nicer, more relaxed person to be around — while I do writing-related things for the next major projects.

And so for this one, I want to use plot as a driving, unifying line through other things — language and character and conversation and personal observations about westside Los Angeles, some of which I’ve been rehearsing in this blog (and which has turned out to be one of my reasons for having it).

Having said that, I still want it to be a suspenseful read.

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