Tag Archive for: His Girl Friday

Production for Use

by Bethany Maines

In the movie His Girl Friday (Cary Grant & Rosalind
Russell), a light hearted screwball comedy that centers around a newspaper
editor and his ex-wife/top reporter as they attempt to get the big story and he
attempts to prevent her from marrying someone else. Under the froth, romance,
laughs and lightning fast dialogue the plot also deals with a poor schlub who
shot a cop and is getting the death penalty mostly due to politics and in spite
of the fact that he’s not really dealing with a full deck.  In the movie, Rosalind Russell interviews the
schlub and asks him what crack-pots he was listening to in the park while he
was whiling away his unemployed time.  The
soapbox ranter he listened to the most, the one the made the most sense was a
man who talked about “production for use.”
That phrase crops up for me time and time again as a
philosophical touchpoint.  When I’m
writing I will periodically ask myself, what use is this scene?  What has it been produced for?  Is the way in which I have presented the scene—from
POV, to word choice, to start and finish points—the best, most useful way, to
achieve the goal?  If the action of the
characters is correct, then are the emotions within the scene hitting the right
notes?  Often times as writers will get
bogged down in telling who went where when and we forget to also incorporate the
emotion, the driving force that pushes the character into action.  The same can also be true in reverse.  I have spent whole pages blithering on about
a character’s feelings (Reminder to self: No one gives a crap.  It’s boring. 
Stop doing that.) and forgotten to advance the plot at all.  And then, even if the emotions and the
actions are right, is everything told in the right words—is the style of the
telling the best way to tell it?
This level of thinking is difficult because it forces me to
objectively look at the story and check in on the individual elements of style,
tone, and content.  And generally, for me,
that can only be done after I have completed a draft and I’m working in the
editorial phase.  If that all sounds like
a lot of work, then you’re correct, but I like to think my readers appreciate
it.  After all I put a lot of work into producing
a book for the use of readers to enjoy.
Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie
Mae Mysteries
, Wild Waters, Tales
from the City of Destiny
and An
Unseen Current
You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video
or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Writing Dangerously

by Bethany Maines

Writing isn’t known for being a terribly dangerous activity.
Not to say that writer’s in history haven’t faced down terrible physical
dangers – Hemingway nearly died in a couple plane crashes, Hunter S. Thompson
got stomped by Hell’s Angels – but I think it can be argued that most writers
are the stay at home type of people who enjoy sitting still for long periods of
time. Other than occasionally chasing sources down a street and tackling them a
la His Girl Friday (a classic, by the
way, go watch it immediately) the danger most writer’s face is purely internal.
From boredom, alcholism, and writer’s block to children
demanding attention, the biggest danger to writing is usually that writing
won’t get done.  But that’s not to
say that writing doesn’t come with a few physical dangers.  We’ve got carpal tunnel wrists, hunched
backs, tweaked necks, and frozen tootsies. The problem with being the kind of
people who can sit still long enough to write a book is that sitting still is
bad for you.  Humans are meant to
move and as our modern way of life moves ever closer to turning us into cyborgs
we have to remember to get up, walk around the block, and blink those bleary
eyes at the sun.
Which is why my foray into National Novel Writing Month is turning
out to be so painful. I admit it, I’ve been slacking off in the writing
department for the last few months, but I failed to realize that a consequence
would be that when I returned to it, I would be so out of shape for writing.  My neck muscles do not appreciate
looking down at a screen for multiple hours on end. My wrists are wondering
just what the heck all this typeity typeity is about and my eyeballs are more
than a little bit annoyed to be staring at a screen more than they already do
for their day job. I’m fortunate enough to know a masseuse who can usually
squeeze me in on demand, but that means NaNoWriMo is going to be a very
expensive proposition for me.
Well, while I take a stretching break perhaps we should
celebrate those author’s who got out there and put some danger besides
scoliosis in their lives.
Author’s Living Dangerously:
Maggie Baribieri – Our fellow Stiletto Gang member is still
taking cold showers without power post-Hurricane Sandy
Elmore Leonard – worked as Seabee during WWII
Hunter S. Thompson – managed to find a variety of ways to
get himself hurt for Gonzo Journalism
Louis L’Amour – worked as professional boxer
J.R.R. Tolkien – served in WWI
Lillian Hellman – forced to testify before the House
Un-American Committee about her “Communist” ties
Bethany Maines is
the author of Bulletproof Mascara, Compact With the Devil and
Supporting the Girls.
Catch up with her at www.bethanymaines.com or check out the new Carrie Mae youtube video.