Notes from “a Dog” on Writing.

20 09 2016

Dogs know the way to pen a tale. Any writer can learn how. Read on:

A Lesson In Storytelling From The Ultimate Dog Tease

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Writing is Listening

25 04 2014

Writing. A cakewalk some might think. Sit down with a cup of warm milk and a box of chicken flavored dental treats and pound the keyboard. For one who has inflexible toes, and no opposable thumbs, it’s an impossible scenario. To the canine writer, the closest comparison might be the paraplegic. Let me tell you why: it’s all about listening.156059336-124599_238x238

I propose a different point of view (I’m a dog): Writing is not a cakewalk, it’s a “dogwalk.”

A dog pulls the master along, pausing here and there to sniff a clue––or drop one. And so the writer leads the reader, imagining clues to add along the way as a path is created, hoping the reader will recognize, however subconsciously, the ones they’ve deposited.

How?

The written word of the author, as recited in the mind of the reader.

Ruh. You don’t have to be a canine ophthalmologist to know this.

Within those neat little sentences fashioned on the page should be everything that must be known about the story at the precise time it needs be known. To garner the information, the reader must pay attention, and here the writer is the master to its slave. The whip is micro-tension, akin to scattering a handful of liver snacks on the floor, and setting a cat on one side and a dog on the other.

How does one see the other? Micro-tension provides this insight through showing the friction between the two. Even if they are friends, there is bound to be some conflict in the above example. Let me tell you, it usually starts with a growl on one side or the other–––even though, of course, I LOVE the cat.

The two characters are at odds, resisting, undermining, attacking, either directly or in the sub-text of the scene. In exposition, emotions are in conflict and ideas at odds. The reader seeks relief by turning the page. The authors greatest hope.

The reader hears the words in his mind. If the writer has done his job, the words trigger a thing called emotion: the literary Pavlovian response. imagesWith a little luck (and a lot of skill), the feeling isn’t resignation, leading the reader, shoulders slumped, to put the book down, and shuffle off to the library for something new.

I know the importance here. This is my struggle. I may be canine, willing to give my heart to most passersby, but words can stump when used to evoke emotion. All my life, a wag of the tail, or a bared tooth, has done the job. Words on a page, free from vocal intonation, are difficult for me. But I think I’m getting closer.

Example, from Clara’s 3rd person POV:

Max said, “I love you.” The glass of ice water rattled as he set it on the table. He looked out the window as though he’d said the words to himself. Released. Clara slipped on her coat, left her key on the table next to the frosty glass, and walked out the door leaving it open to the frigid Christmas air.

or

His words were like a warm bath. “I love you.” The glass of water Max held materialized on the table, his arms around Clara like magic. Max’s eyes in the mirror above the Christmas fire were golden in the light, but he had the look of a man being led to hang.

***

 

Okay. Not Hemingway. images

But do you know how Max feels about Clara in each of these sentences? Do you know how Clara feels? Do you care? do you want to know what the problem is between them? Do you wan to turn the page? Please tell me you do.

I’m working on another novel (5th draft geared to micro-tension. Next draft: emotion…without any wagging tails). I take notes (recorded digitally, of course), I fashion metaphorical sentences––so many that my dreams are all in 3rd person narrative, no longer images, but echoes. I awaken to fragments that make me feel something.

 

Because I listen––and pay attention to the way words make me feel.imagesChow.





My iPawed

15 05 2013

I’ve always been an Elvis fan. What man could both rattle and roll the spirit of a small dog? From Love Me Tender to Hound-dog, let’s face it, the man understood the canine spirit.274363411_b5ded28228_t

But Dog can’t listen to the same thing every day. Dog is as diverse as the small game he chases. Mixing it up keeps things fresh, after all. I happen to like most all music—opera being the stand-alone exception. Puccini=Piu (a shortened term for puteo, which is Latin, of course, for “to stink, be redolent, or smell bad…in case you were wondering).

One wonders what tune Elvis would be singing now if he were still among the living. Rocking out, or a more comely croon? Age has it’s parameters.

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Then there are the Rolling Stones. A half-century after they first took the stage, they still rock the house. As a dog, I haven’t personally seen them except on that flat table against the wall called television. Sure, they look a little different than they did a few years ago, but who doesn’t? Even MY ears droop  under a decade of pursuing chicks in the hen yard. The paws don’t work the same way; my nose, at times, is mute to certain scents; and my ears? Well, let’s just say, the radio volume is turned up a notch or two these days.

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Maybe that’s why Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie are the ones I now prefer. With the volume up, and my eyes closed, they still have it after all those years. And in that, there’s hope for me at this ripe age (seventy in dog years), and anyone else of that generation.

There coming tour is not a retrospective, but an introspective: Not looking back; looking around and rejoicing in where we ARE.5744230262_33ca254168_t

Elvis may be in my heart, but these days the Stones are on my iPawed. Chow.





Round One

31 03 2012

It’s spring here in Tuscany and Fraud-the-cat is testing out her stalk and sleuth instincts on yours truly.  Taking into account that, because of her winter laziness, she has a few pounds on me, I should not be embarrassed by an occasional slam to the ground. I SHOULD simply walk away from such activity, especially since I KNOW it gives Fraud any pleasure at all, and yet….

My larger brain (yes, all Terriers have larger-than-normal brains.
A fact widely overlooked by the scientific community, but inherently known by all dogs…) leads me to take the bait and return the pounce.

I know that, until I have adequately bulked up from seasonal feasts such as baby hare, fresh percorino and spring lamb (preferably in a hardy ragu with penne pasta), I have no advantage against the bulbous, grey dirigible called Fraud.

Witness:  

Chow…





The Alphabet Game

7 07 2011

The true meaning of nobility in a 27 line story from A to Z:
Aristocracy does not come easily to a small dog.
Born, bred or borrowed, nobility is something learned not passed along.

Careful examination of one’s character is the key to it’s discovery.

Do not be swayed by the rhinestone glint of an expensive collar and neither by the well-worn rags of the common man.

Every dog has the capacity for greatness, but no dog should be judged by it’s wrapping.

Few dogs have such luxury.

Goodness comes not from a simple fetch and romp.

Humility and kindness feeds the noble more than anything else.

know this as well as any other dog.

Just yesterday I was faced with my own inadequacies.

Kids on the Pincio stole my ball.

Laughing, they ran away, watching behind them as I stood, crestfallen, in the middle of the park.

Most of them disappeared behind the roses at the crest of the hill.

Nothing mattered more to me at that moment than I reclaim my favorite toy but the kids were well out of sight.

Only one thing to do.

Pout.

Quietly, I sat down on the grass and examined my toes.

Right then, a second set of toes appeared, facing me.

Stunned, I looked up.

There before me was a young gypsy boy dressed in tattered clothes, cheeks filthy, green felt ball in hand and a smile on his face.

Up,” he said.

Very slowly, he raised his hand and threw the ball like a comet, high into the air, with the fervor of a second-baseman.

When the ball came down, my jaws were ready to reclaim the prize.

Xavier,” said the boy.

Zealot named Xavier, rags and all…truly a noble boy, in deed.
Chow.




Getting Up is Living

1 07 2011

For all those skeptical that a small dog might climb the vines and vineyard wires, let alone anything else, I offer Sofia.

She may not be of the ‘”terrorista” breed, but she knows (as does any dog) the best way to get ahead in the world: One paw at a time.  And, as I quoted yesterday in a soon-to-be famous tweet: FALLING DOWN IS LIFE, GETTING UP IS LIVING…Chow.





I Confess

23 06 2011

I confess, I know a bit about adultery.  My master has a little something on the side (see the “about” page on this blog).  He’s Latin, Italian to be exact, and he’s a man.  Two and two often make three: The infidel, the mistress and the wife. Reference: Silvio Berlusconi (well, in his case the sum may have been more than three.)

I can identify with straying, though I firmly believe infidelity should include no more than a cursory bark and sniff. This, by the way, does not employ tweeting, emailing or texting but the use of the eyes, the nose and the voice-box only.

Fortunately, most Latin males who stray may gain easy absolution via Catholic confession. This satisfies not only the priest’s appreciation for a bawdy story but the offender’s guilt, as well.

Would that it were so easy.

Absolution is more difficult to gain at home, I’ve found.  It is not always true that is is easier to get forgiveness than permission.

Thankfully, dogs are speechless.  Otherwise, we would perpetually be in the confessional, let alone the dog-house.

Given the propensity for adultery among Latins, one wonders why the church hasn’t gone automated WAY before now:

Note to self: Enunciation is important—in any language.

Chow.








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