Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Novel

watercolor sketch by claudia schoenfeld

The Novel

“A novel can be a vaudeville show, the six o’clock news, or the
mumblings of wild men saddled by demons.”
--Ishmael Reed.

      I’ve had been working on my novel
                           for over a year now, a
                           detective story; but since
the genre has been written 10,000 books deep,
      I needed to find a new twist, 
      an unexpected hook.

How about picking a large city that has not been
                  used, or written to death
                  in crime literature,
say Seattle?           Make the private investigator
                               a Viet Nam veteran, then place the events
in the 1970’s--when the pain & PTSD blossoming
from that conflict
                were still from fresh scars, extant, somewhat
                                                   mysterious, then give
the protagonist a cool name, like Baerbak, John,
Johnny; make him deeply flawed, full of bottled-up rage,
                a bachelor again after two
                failed marriages, & a lethal martial artist,
built upon from his special forces background.

Then take a bold step,
                make the antagonist the yin to his yang,
the dark side of his nature with only glimmers
                of light juxtaposed to Baerbak living in light battling
those dark demons in his dreams--then give the heavy a cool
                 name as well, say Cody something,
                 a skilled marine sniper who served
                                           in Viet Nam; both men in country
at the same time; maybe even met once, fought together,
with Cody now a warrior who could not stop
                 the urge to kill, 
his angst turned to criminal endeavors; & make him
                 a martial artist too, to create a super fight
for the close of the tale; 

two men linked like battle brothers, creating
                 one whole person only together, the same
yet different, like fraternal twins--oh yeah,
                     then make them be dating the same woman,
a waitress in a downtown diner, who is attracted
to them both, & does not reveal one to the other at first;
making both men adamant film buffs,
             with huge movie collections, & extensive expertise
in film trivia; so much so that some of the major clues
             can be from movie plots or quotes--give them
                       both fascinating lairs in old buildings where they
are the only residents, both dangerous & anti-social.

Use the city as no other writer ever has,
writing from my own past growing up
in Seattle; put some of the action along the waterfront,
at the Public Market, at the Seattle Center;
have a whole chapter, or more, occur
            on a Washington State super ferry; a lot
            can happen during those one hour voyages
                                between the islands of Puget Sound--
but definitely have the denouement take place
atop the Space Needle, hand-to-hand combat,
the kind that only one man can survive.

Anchor the story in those pre-technology late 70’s,
                  before wireless wi fi,
                  before smart phones, even
                  before the internet,
when people still wrote letters & used pay phones.
Make it existential Noir,
                  a movie buff’s dream book, 
& how about I finish the damn thing
before Christmas.

Glenn Buttkus

Actually I do have another unpublished novel, a crime story, titled BAERBAK. 

Posted over on dVerse Poets Poetics

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


Mary said...

Glenn, it sounds like a fascinating plot. You have created a unique character with an intriguing background and personality, are putting him into a setting familiar to you! I think you are writing a 'winner.' Now, if only you find an agent who believes the same and a publisher who wishes to take a risk on an unknown author. Go for it!

Björn Rudberg said...

Ah.. and you have given away the plot already.. but write it for sure.. Love the inspiration to go from that sketch to a novel writer.. :-)

Claudia said...

wow...so you're writing novels... how awesome is that... i love how you let us in on the process and the decisions along the way... that sounds cool.. i wanna read it one day...smiles

Gabriella said...

This sounds good, Glenn. Your character made me think of Harry Bosch to some extent. The time period is very different though. Are you familiar with Michael Connelly?

Brian Miller said...

ha. i def want a copy...it is hard in those genres that have been mulled over for so long...finding that hook to make it different....i like where this one is heading though...

oy mary had to go with the agent stuff...now that can take a while...had a friend who shopped his for 2 years....but then got a 4 book deal...

Glenn Buttkus said...

Decades ago I let loose the dream of publishing either BLACKTHORNE, or BAERBAK. Especially fiction, is very hard to interest publishers in, even if you manage to get an agent. I'm too old for that shit now.

De said...

What a great quote, and a fantastic spill of words. It's just like this, isn't it? ;)

Abhra Pal said...

This is fantastic - you started with a humble beginning but the depth and detail were too impressive. Amazingly done and then again it is your unique style to let a story progress through the poem.

Heaven said...

Wow to write a novel is a great achievement ~ You got all the details, character and plot lines together ~ The challenge is to finish it I suppose ~ Good for you Glenn ~

ayala said...

Very interesting...good luck with your novel!

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Oh YES! Now I want to read the book. And then I want to see the movie.

Anonymous said...

Sounds great to me... go for it.

Margaret said...

… it sounds better than what is out there on the shelves! I know you can write - sometimes self publishing is the way to go. I'd buy one. :) Perhaps it won't bring you riches, but is that really what drives one to write in the first place?

I'd say you really paired your poem well with the image…

Truedessa said...


I think you have a good story here to tell and writing a novel is quite the undertaking but, something tells me you can do it. I would certainly buy it.

Anonymous said...

Glenn, you've written in prose the synopsis that sells the novel.

I think it's always the two men who measure each other that becomes the story.

Bodhirose said...

Wow, you've got quite the story brewing. There's some heavy stuff going to happen between those "twins." I love how you put yourself into that sketch.

Sumana Roy said...

now...that's some idea..it's like seeing a movie so vivid in details..

Marina Sofia said...

Ah, that could have been me talking there - have been struggling for far too long to finish my crime novel... not set in Seattle, though, but noirish... Maybe we should swap manuscripts? Sly and good use of humour and self-deprecation there...

Myrna R. said...

Nice. The sketch goes perfectly with your writer's angst. Of course, you know you're not alone. I've been working on two books for several years. I know I won't finish before Christmas. I just hope I finish before I die.

Seasideauthor said...

What a mindful. Well done, what no technology? As long as the action is never ending it will keep us on edge. Liked reading here.

Kathy said...

Well, well, I know the feeling I think of writing (or having a book in one's head) and wanting to publish for others to enjoy. The noire setting in Seattle is not overused and the time before tech advances is good....wow, wouldn't that be great to finish it! Claudia's art certainly brought out some deep-seated desires in you to tell us the story! Each of hers could easily translate into a short story or novel even with all the nuances and details she provides. It's never too late, Glenn. Love the battle on the Space Needle idea!

Kathy said...

....you could use the Seattle Underground, the old stadium, the waterfront, all of our beauty here for backdrop....what fun...

RMP said...

ahh, a good detective story...one that hasn't been done to death...I think you might be on the write track.

Anonymous said...

Glenn, are you familiar with James Lee Burke? He has a lot of the same ideas on different settings and things that you do; I think you'd like his writing. Very poetic prose, stories based in New Orleans, the line between good and bad never defined.

Anyway... enjoyed this piece, you took Claudia's watercolor and ran with it and that was pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

that's a bold goal, by Mithras day ~

Arathi Harihar said...

wow..Glenn..good luck on your novel..