Evolution of a Writing Style: Quotation Marks

Quotation marks

Quotation marks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy (Photo credit: alessio.sartore)

Sometimes on Xanga people would comment on how I don’t use quotation marks.  That is intentional.  It wasn’t until I read Cormac McCarthy that I realized how superfluous quotation marks are and that anyone who has mastered the basics of writing dialog can do without them.  McCarthy always writes in 3rd person, and it’s easier to do without them in 3rd.  It’s a little harder in 1st, which is what I use almost exclusively but in 1st it can be done.  As far as the reader is concerned it’s usually just a matter of getting used to it.

McCarthy doesnt stop there.  He omits apostrophes in common contractions that everyone knows such as dont, cant, wasnt, and so on.  He said he doesn’t like those little marks cluttering up the page.  I dont know about that but I do know it makes for a cleaner, more stark style of writing, which is nice if your style is minimalist like mine.

I took it even further.  In deciding to invent a style of writing for the internet I started using common internet acronyms such as IDK, WTF, IRL, TMI, and so on.  I used email style as a model for taking it further, the kind of careless writing people use when they’re in a hurry.  I used convenient misspellings such as “thru” for through, although I know how to spell.  And for another iconoclastic touch I dont capitalize “I” unless it comes at the start of the sentence.   In addition to writing in first person I wrote in the present tense, which gives an immediacy to writing that holds suspense very well.  I’d get comments such as, “I felt like I was right in that room.”

Sometimes after years of writing fiction you figure out how to do it right in a flash of inspiration.  The author of Bridges of Madison County had such a Eureka experience and went on to write more.  I’m not comparing myself to him but I understand what happens.  That summer I went on to finish an autobiographical novel and then the Dana series as well as Since Yesterday, Axel’s Travels, some others.  Suddenly, liberated from stylistic conventions I became prolific and wrote more than i’d have thought possible.

Not everyone likes this style of writing but it grows on you until you feel like why doesn’t everyone do it this way.  And any fiction writer who wants to try it will find it easier than it looks.  

Waiting Room

Pregnant women and fucked up men

The waiting room is full again

Every day, every hour

I want to go home and take a shower

 

Psychopath and Borderline

End of day or end of time

Piss and Prolixin, Seroquil

They’ll be here with me until

 

One of them gasps and one of them dies

One of them moves, one of them cries

And I see the door and see the path

So I can go home and take a bath

Why?

Once I would have died for you, maybe I still would

Exiled and excommicated I wonder if I could

Take my lung or kidney or other body part

For ever since forever you’ve held my trembling heart

 

Make my heart prance like a stallion or flutter like a dove

But I think you never ever understood this kind of love

Explain it to be softly so that I would see

What reason did you have for jettisoning me

Trinity

When the sun came up in the middle of the night

White sands melted and flowed out of sight

And as time flits by on wings of broken crepe

A glassy crater that is forever defines this landscape

Bessie and Me

Us ol’ boys get lonely too

And when all those painted women just wont do

I go to my cow Bessie grazin’ in the barn

Stepped behind her and dropped my pants, didnt see no harm

Bessie kept on grazin’ and i never felt so good

 

Some bastard bureaucrat come around today

He’s mad and says they’ll come take Bessie away

I said it aint yore business ’bout Bessie

She’s mine and she loves me

You dont say nothin that aint a goddamn lie

You better leave before your balls are a bow tie

 

Bullshit is all over my face

Bullshit is all over my place

Bullshit and i’ll make ’em pay

Cause i’m gonna die of somethin’ anyway

 

I went to see old Bessie one last time

Said by god they’ll wont never take what’s mine

Made love to her again, dont remember when

I saw this kind of sunshine

 

There’s bullshit here but Bessie is my cow

All their bullshit dont matter no how

Of all the females Bessie’s my favorite

And my cow just died and i dont need no bullshit

 

Homeboy Security is beating down my door

Guess they want the .22 hidden underneath the floor

But my hand wont waver on the detonator to this keg of dynamite

I’ll blow ’em all to hell and me into that holy light

 

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!

 

What?  Where am i?  What is this place…Bessie?  Is that you? 

MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

In this place they wont give us no bullshit

 

Immigrant

Orange hair in a white house

I’m afraid to go outside

The cat just killed Mickey Mouse

There’s nowhere left to hide

 

Life’s hard in the midwest

Your neighbors turn you in

Like being under house arrest

Beginning of the end

 

They revoked my passport

My green card blew away

I cant go to the airport

Or even the driveway

 

But the ICE trucks are coming

They’ll be going door to door

In the back yard i start running

Cant come back here anymore

 

To Syria i’ll have to go

A place i’ve never been

They’re full up at Guantanamo

And then it all starts again

The Zombies of Austin

In Austin there are zombies

That roam the fields at night

They eat up big salamis

And shoot up out of sight

 

In the park they got needles

Somebody’s used before

With microscopic evils

You dont see anymore

 

The whores down from Columbus

Service the walking dead

A zombie’s an encumbrance

But the hookers give them head

 

In the moonlight there is thunder

Megatons from space

Administrative blunder

A nuclear embrace

 

Mushrooms bloom in Austin

Detonation was at five

The zombies are lost when

The narks are burned alive

 

In Austin there is fallout

Radiation boils the ground

And the nuclear police are out

But no zombies are around

 

 

 

 

 

Roswell

I found out yesterday that as of tomorrow Netflix will no longer have Roswell or The X Files.  These are two reasons i got and kept Netflix even though things i took for granted there are always disappearing, such as The Silence of the Lamb, which they had for years.  I guess they’re trying to make way for more of their own productions, which is too bad because most of them are not even watchable.

But this is about Roswell, not Netflix.  Writing my version of this story is the most formidable challenge as a writer i’ve had for a while.  I realized soon that if i didnt trim the material down i would end up with something like War and Peace.  After cutting down the material in this story i knew that more would have to go or i’d end up with something like a James Clavell novel, which is still thick enough to stop a .45 caliber ACP slug.

So i learned to cut more and still maintain the integrity of the story.  By that time i hit a major logjam and spent weeks deciding how to proceed given that at this point late in the first season everything changes and a slew of characters come in and the old ones begin to change.  What has been emerging is a moody, surrealistic story like the original Destiny Road (2009).  And i really like how i managed to redefine Max and Liz, the core of the entire story.  Max emerged as a cranky, moody alien who is so stressed he’s always close to the edge but who never falls off.  And i managed to give Liz a kind of maturity and character she never had in the TV show.

I was going to open the next chapter with a fine metaphor-“The cast iron wind is a dirge screeched by a choir of lepers draped in rags.”  I’ll save that one for some other story.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these as much as i have writing them.  The tv show is far richer and more complex than it appears if you just watch it.  I’ve learned to love the show even more than i did, and respect what everyone involved with it was trying to do.

Maybe it’ll come back to Netflix.  But it probably wont for a while.