Tag Archives: Patricia Santos Marcantonio

Coming soon a new kid’s book: ‘Billie Neville Takes a Leap’

A new kids book coming soon.

A new kid’s book coming soon.

Ten-year-old Billie wants to be a daredevil, just like her hero Evel Knievel. She also wants a best friend. Riding “the best bike in the whole world,” Billie’s desperate to enter a bike jumping contest with three boys named The Meanies and show them her cool skills. When Evel comes to town to jump the Snake River Canyon, Billie learns she has to be a friend to make friends and that not all heroes have to soar over canyons.

By Bonnie Dodge and Patricia Santos Marcantonio

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Want to be a better writer? Read good books, watch good movies, TV and plays

You hear the advice a lot at writing conferences and in writing books. Read. Read. Read. As a lover of movies and writer of screenplays, to that advice I will add watch good movies, TV and plays.
Why? Because you learn so damn much about everything. Pacing. Voice. Conflict. Dialogue. Description. Character. In other words, what makes a good story. What makes good writing.
When I started writing a psychological thriller, I read Thomas Harris’ “Red Dragon” about four times. I saw how effective it was to tell both the stories of the antagonist and protagonist. For example, in the case of the killer Francis Dolarhyde we learned how he became a monster and at first feel for the abuse that turned him into one. It also ramped up the conflict when the hero and villain meet. In my book, “The Weeping Woman” (Sunbury Press) I also presented the story through the eyes of villain and the detective hunting her down to show their contrast and similarities.
For a great script taut as a drum, I read Brian Helgeland’s script, “L.A. Confidential” many times.
The power of voice I found in “Funeral for Horses” and “Fight Club.”
How profound point of view can be in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Most any Quentin Tarantino script shows off unique and fantastic dialogue.
In “Breaking Bad” and “The Sopranos” I discovered what makes a great character, namely Walter White and Tony Soprano.
For great writing pure and simple, any Tennessee Williams play.
Grace of language, damn great characters and heart wrenching plot was all found in William Styron’s “Sophie’s Choice.”
You get the picture.
As writers, we don’t want to imitate those other writers, but we should analyze what makes them so good. And hopefully, somewhere find our own voices.
As a bonus, we also get to read great books and watch great movies, TV and plays, which is okay with me.

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What We’re Doing When We’re Supposed to be Writing

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Taking those extra steps will make you crazy, but they’re worth it.

I have neared the mouth of madness. I have sat on the tongue of crazy.

And it’s all because I’m working on getting it right. Taking those extra steps to make sure my writing is the best it can be to quote the Army slogan.

This work entails printing out the manuscript, not once, but twice, sometimes three times because reading the print version helps me catch stuff I can’t always see staring into a computer.  This also helps me find when I have used a phrase or word over and over.

This means going through and getting rid of adverbs, and declaring war on passive and vague words like there, was, am, it, must, could, and try, among others.

Reading the story for content problems, such as closing gaping holes in plot and that your characters stay in character. Making sure the theme is consistent and your symbolism isn’t overt. Ramping up the conflict in each scene, be it emotional or action. Searching for clichés.  Being on the lookout for the times I have changed the name of my characters in midstream (Come on, haven’t you done that?)

Let your critique partners have a go at your work to suggest improvements and what you did right.

One other thing I do is beat back the impetuous urge to send out my first and second draft because I think the work is done.  It isn’t. Maybe geniuses will have the perfect novel after two passes. I can’t.

Despite the craziness of rewrites, the more you work on your piece the better it becomes.  That makes the madness worth it.

Patricia Santos Marcantonio

Celebrating your writing buddies

Bonnie Dodge and Dixie Thomas Reale show off their Christmas gifts

Among the hectic days at the holidays, now is the time to also say “Thank goodness for my writing buddies.”
I say that a lot and not just at Christmas. My writing buddies are Bonnie Dodge and Dixie Thomas Reale, who are also my partners in Other Bunch Press.
Here is why they are important and why you need writing buddies.
They support and encourage me, especially on those days when I want to throw my computer out the window.
They are great critique partners. While I am good at plotting, they are good at motivation, characterization and making me dig deeper, which only helps my writing.
They understand the writing life and how it is to work on a project for months without the guarantee of a paycheck.
They are great at brainstorming ideas and ticking your imagination.
They love and respect the written word.
They are tough when they need to be, but also complimentary.
I have known many other writing buddies, but these two women are also my friends.
I have said this many times before, writing is a sometimes painfully solitary endeavor. But it helps to have people with who you can talk writing, and that helps ease the pain at making words appear on a blank sheet of paper or computer screen.
I urge all of you to find writing buddies in the new year if you don’t have any, and for those of you that do, please express your appreciation for them.

New play by Other Bunch author debuts

“Tears for Llorona,” a new play written by Patricia Santos Marcantonio, debuted on the stage of the Twin Falls Center for the Arts on Nov. 4 and 5.
The play is a first for Marcantonio, who is a partner in Other Bunch Press. The play is based on one of Marcantonio’s short stories that is included in “Voices From the Snake River Plain.” The play is a retelling of an old Mexican ghost story but with a new twist. It was produced by Carolyn White and the Magic Valley Arts Council, and was directed by James Haycock. The play also featured an all-Latino cast.

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Red, Michael Corleone, Hannibal Lector — Unforgettable characters all

Charles Foster Kane, Hannibal Lector, Atticus Finch, Red, Ellen Ripley.
You’re probably thinking what do these people have in common. The answer is that they are all unforgettable characters.
They are in movies I can’t pass up when I’m flipping around the channels. They make me stop what I’m doing and watch them. Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather, Silence of the Lamb, Alien, Citizen Kane, To Kill a Mockingbird. The list goes on.
As writers, we have to ask, what makes them unforgettable? What makes them universal? Why do we remember what they say and do? What are their goals, both interior and exterior? Why do we love their strengths and weaknesses? What are their character arcs?
I am fascinated by Michael Corleone’s slide into corruption even as he rises to power. I love how Red in Shawshank Redemption is so strong, but not enough to hope. Ripley’s character in Alien is tough, vulnerable and a survivor rolled into one.
In The Searchers, Ethan Edwards displays an almost psychopathic hatred of Indians, but puts that aside to save his niece. In the end, he remains an outsider.
While brillantly brought to life by wonderful actors, these characters still were born on the page by a writer who forged them out of words. They wrote their dialogue, gave them motivations, strengths and weakness, complexity.
Charles Foster Kane is among the most complex. Enjoying the power of money, but he does not totally understand what money can’t buy. He wants to be loved, but doesn’t know how to give it and may not even love himself.
William ‘Bill the Butcher’ Cutting in Gangs of New York is indeed a butcher of people, but when he blesses the young man who eventually tries to kill him, we feel his vulnerability, fleeting as it is.
My goal as a writer is to create unforgettable characters. One readers will relate to. One they will remember and tell their friends about. A character they wish they knew or one they wouldn’t want to be locked in a room with. One they might quote.
I hope I can accomplish that, and as Andy told Red, “Hope is a good thing.”

For more unforgettable movie characters go to.
http://www.filmsite.org/100characters.html

-Patricia Santos Marcantonio