Neil Low: February 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Crafting Scenes" and "Staying Hungry"

A few nights ago, while writing my fifth novel, I needed to take a break and let the murder mystery story I'm working on percolate a little before I got back to it. So I leaned back in my office chair and gazed at my over-stuffed bookshelf, and my eyes landed on Raymond Obstfeld's "Novelist's Essential Guide to CRAFTING SCENES," published by Wrtier's Digest. I thought that since it was already on my bookshelf I must have read it before, so I pulled it out to check, thumbed through it, and saw instantly some nuggets of value, appropro to what I'm working on at the moment. So I did as any good student would do and began reading the text. I must say that I'm impressed with Obstfeld's rich knowledge of the subject and his skill in delivering his message. Although my ego told me I was an experienced author with some degree of success, the eternal student inside yelled loudly that there were more lessons to learn, and Mr. Obstfeld was the one to teach them. I particularly like how Obstfeld uses writing examples, many from his own published novels, to illustrate his points, much like the very well-spoken Robert McKee does in STORY, which I also found to be very helpful for authors and screenwriters. While glad that I'm an old dog capable of learning new tricks, I'm also reminded of an early Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, STAY HUNGRY, which featured him as Mr. Universe and focused on his many talents outside of weightlifting/body building, which he attributed to his hunger for life and the lessons to be learned. He told the interviewer it was all about staying hungry, an appetite that took Arnold a long way, and is also great advice for the aspiring and experienced writer. "Feed your head," become a master of your craft.