Friday, November 25, 2011

Johnny Gun and the Plot Contrivances

I wrote a short story some time ago about a hero who traveled from novel to novel fighting tired and worn out plot contrivances interjected into story lines. Seriously, how many times are we going to stand for our heroes escaping their prisons through the air vent, or abandoned sewer pipe.

If I were a super-villain that would be the first thing I’d check if I was going to imprison somebody.

Then there is always the casual comment made to the main character that permits him/her to solve the seemingly unsolvable quandary they have been battling with since the story started.
An example:  While Albert Einstein is hard at work trying to hash out his relativity theory some minor character casually says, “Hey Al, did you see the E channel has MC hammer on twice tonight?” This of course shakes Einstein out of his deep concentration. He then turns and asks minor character to repeat it and after they do, Einstein thrusts his finger into the air and says “Of course! E equals MC twice, no not twice, squared! Then turns to the minor character and says, “Thanks meaningless character who just showed up, for providing the plot contrivance that permits me to solve this unsolvable problem.”
Seriously folks, that’s not the way it works. I have been creating things my entire life and that has NEVER happened. Here’s how it goes. You have a problem that needs to be solved. You can only work on it so long before you brain tires and wanders off. Your subconscious however, picks up the slack. Then, usually while you’re in the middle of doing something else, the answer will pop right into your head and you have to scramble for something to write on, THAT VERY FREAKING MINUTE OR YOU WILL LOSE IT! This can be very frustrating if you just happen to be in the middle of a job interview, skiing down the side of a mountain or making love to your wife. (If the third one happens I suggest you read my book ‘When Long Term Marriages Go Horribly Wrong.’)

There are numerous others that Johnny Gun will introduce you to when my short story book, Storytime comes out in early 2012. But until then gang, plot contrivances? Just say no. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A reasonable solution to the tax rate issue

Politically I am a radical moderate who believes the only sustainable solution to any impasse is compromise. You get something, we get something, you give up something, we do too. Right now our system is seriously broken and yet our elected leaders seem willing to let the system collapse rather than to give any leeway to the opposition.
I have a different idea. I call it the Zackary Richards Plan and overall it’s beneficial to both Republicans and Democrats.
On a recent news show Warren Buffet pointed out that he (billionaire) was paying 17% in taxes while his secretary (middle-class) was paying 28%. Some said that was very unfair while others claimed that people like Buffet, who create jobs, should be given tax breaks so they can create more jobs. Both arguments have some validity but what’s missing is verification. We have had the Bush tax cuts for ten years now and there are fewer jobs than ever. So apparently somebody is pocketing the money without doing what the tax cuts were designed to do, create jobs.
So here’s what we do to fix that
Bump up the ‘job creators’ like Buffet to the middle class rate (28%) on January 1 while at the same time, create a tax rate scale that lowers the tax rate on those in upper management who actually create full time jobs and hire AMERICAN workers. For example say my company has 100 full time employees and I hire 5 more after January 1st, then my taxes and those of my management team would decrease (by how much I would leave to those in tax accounting) if those 5 are still employed by December 31. The more jobs we create the lower our tax rate would be until finally capping at the original 17% .
On the other side of the coin, those in upper management who downsize AMERICAN workers and cut jobs would find their taxes increasing by the same percentage rate until it caps out at whatever the highest tax rate was  (I believe it was 36-38% but again I leave that to those in tax accounting)
This, my friends, is verification. In addition it encourages companies to hire AMERICAN workers who in turn will pay taxes which will make up for the lost revenue brought about by upper management’s lower tax rate. It will also increase revenue from the added taxes placed on those in upper management who blunder and stumble their way to lay-offs and plant closings.
So, in the long run, the real ‘job creators’ will have their lower tax rate. We will have lower unemployment. It will revitalize the middle class whose buying habits fuel this economy and address the concerns of both the tea party and the OWS
No doubt there will be those who disagree with this plan and that’s fine with me, however, if my plan makes sense to you and think others should know about it, please e-mail, SHARE or Tweet this to friends, family and associates and maybe something will get done. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How serious are you about writing?

When I first started submitting short stories to various contests I didn't win but did receive critiques of my work by established writers. One of the comment that struck me the hardest was one that read. "Here is a guy who is going to get real good real fast but, he must first get serious, put in the effort and learn his trade.
But he was right. Writing is a trade  that requires time and effort. From my experience it usually takes 10 years (that's right 10 years!) before you've found your writing voice and the skill to effectively communicate it. As an author and publisher people often ask me to publish their novels. I tell them no. Why? Because a real writer has taken the time to do the preliminaries. They know what type of books you publish, they know how to write a query letter, they know how to market their work, they know the BUSINESS!
Like most authors you look back on your early work and cringe. Yet at the time you were convinced it was a work of unmitigated genius. I often compare becoming a successful writer to becoming a professional baseball player. First and most importantly, you must have talent. Without it you're wasting every body's time. Secondly you must learn the skills to properly harvest that talent. Young baseball players are send to the minor leagues to hone their abilities, you as an aspiring novelist needs hone yours as well. Take a class on proper grammar and structure, join a writer's group and most importantly develop a thick skin because it is the critic's job to point out your flaws and mistakes, usually as hurtful as possible.
This is how we learn. So, if you are indeed serious about becoming a writer, then write every possible moment, have that work critiqued, learn from the criticisms and make the proper adjustments. Here is an important point. If you read your story in front of an audience and they don't understand it. They are not at fault, you are. As the writer it is your responsibility to craft your writing in such a way that anyone, perhaps even a well trained dog can understand it.