And here's a new article by an old friend, fellow writer, and New Englander Shelly Frome about the by now classic in the Art of Writing--the "What-if?" Shelly's bio can be found in the archive under Shrinking Character--Shrinking Fiction: Meet Shelly Frome.
Stalking the springboard for a crime novel by Shelly Frome
Someone once told me that you don’t have the necessary ingredients of a good crime novel unless one of your basic assumptions is threatened or, at the very least, you have to come to terms with some facet of ongoing reality that’s really troubling you. The noted screenwriter and novelist William Goldman put it another way: “You write for revenge.” Be that as it may, though it may have a lot to do with the aforementioned comments, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what sets me off. Take my antic, edgy Hollywood novel. While staying at the Avalon at the corner of Olympic and Beverly Drive doing research for my book on screenwriting, everyone behind the reception desk was quick to note they were really actors or would-be screenwriters; the waiters and waitresses told me they were actually undiscovered talent. In no time, a short walk up the street revealed a paunchy middle-aged man standing in front of Al’s outdoor news-stand yelling into his cell phone, “Listen to me, Harry! I’m telling you the me you think you know has breached the barricade. I’m gonna be taking a meeting, pitching a sure-fire idea for a vampire flick. I kid you not!” And this, as they say, is just for openers.
While all this was going on, despite the countless pipe dreams and illusions I encountered, there were signs that something approximating reality might be percolating beneath. At the park fronting the Santa Monica Pier, a shaggy-looking drifter in his early thirties was telling a well-tanned homeless man, “I tell you, you better watch out, you know? It’s going down tonight.” And though she was reluctant to talk about it, my sister, who has a home just off La Cienega and Orlando, had bars installed on her windows after someone hot-wired her car while it was parked in her driveway and drove away into the night. In addition, my mother’s house, about ten miles east, had been fitted with iron bars that were even more foreboding.More...