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February 02, 2011

Brad Parks Guest Blogs

By Brad Parks

Lightheaded Guest Blogger 


            Recognizing my genius as a novelist, Nancy Martin has been begging me for quite some time to visit Lipstick Chronicles and enlighten the Book Tarts and their friends on the subject of plotting.1


“Please,” Nancy kept saying. “You are the plotting master.” 2


            For the occasion, I have invited the hard-working interns at BradParksBooks.com to do my footnoting, as is appropriate with any work of such significant scholarly impact.3


            To establish my credentials on this subject, I should report Kirkus Reviews has called my plots “altars to unerring virtuosity built within temples of pure brilliance.”4 The webinar I conducted about plotting has been viewed more than 267 million times on YouTube.5

            As a Very Serious Writer whose Work has been lauded by the most powerful kings, proclaimed by the most talented minstrels, and coddled by the purest maidens, you should know my plotting method is beyond reproach. Anyone who disagrees is wrong like Donkey Kong.6

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            With that said, my process begins by imagining I am a snowflake.7 I picture myself high in the atmosphere, floating down until I land with a thick, wet thwap on the windshield of a speeding Ford Fusion. This is the vehicle that transports me through my plot.8


            The next step is one I call “gathering.”9 I circle passages of newspapers and magazines in angry red pencil and pin them to a large corkboard. I connect the pins with string as certain patterns emerge to me, almost as if they are glowing signal flares in the night.10


            Having spent several weeks on this phase – I think of this work much as a sculptor thinks of forging his marble11 – I am ready to begin planning my three act structure. Before the first act, I seriously offend the woman next to me by accidentally dropping my PlayBill then diving under her to retrieve it (hey, it wasn’t my idea to wear a skirt, lady!). In the third act, the Jack Ritter character discovers that the Suzanne Somers character has been acting on false information, and the whole thing involving the landlord is really just a big misunderstanding!12


            Next it’s time to create your protagonist. I believe successful protagonists wear sport jackets (black, blue or gray), collared shirts (white or blue), and pleated pants (khaki or gray).13 He should stand approximately 6-foot-1, and weigh anywhere from 185-205 pounds, depending on his latest diet.14


            Having created this dashing man, I imagine his life in chronological order, recording on index cards the tiniest minutiae of each day. I file the index cards in a series of colored boxes: Red if it involves show tunes, blue if it makes me sad, yellow if it may be a clue to an international conspiracy involving the Masons, and so on.15


            Finally, I’m ready to begin putting words to paper. I work from the end backward, but also from the beginning forward. Simultaneously. For example, in my latest work, I typed “after” then “It,” then “ever,” then “was” and continued back and forth: “happily… a… lived… dark… they… and… so… stormy… And… night.” 16


            I continue in this manner all the way through the 90,000-word manuscript, until I meet in the middle at a sentence I call the “golden shower,” in honor of Promontory Point, Utah. 17


            I think you will find this method productive, fast and convenient. I have frequently approached authors at conferences, telling them of my process and saying, “I’ll give you my ideas, and if you write them we’ll reap millions from the No. 1 bestselling novels that result.”18


Strangely, none of those authors have taken me up on my generous offer. Oh well. Their loss.


What about you, oh lesser writers? How do you plot your novels?19


1. Brad spent the morning spraying Rust-Oleum in a tightly enclosed, non-ventilated space. He is currently tripping on the fumes.


2. This is the paint talking. In truth, Brad e-mailed Nancy, who was gracious enough to let him do a guest blog with one warning: “Just don’t blog about dieting.”


3. We’ve been playing Farmville.


4. Kirkus has never said anything this nice about a crime fiction author. Ever.


5. Brad is actually thinking of the Charlie Bit Me video .


6. The cliché involving the simian video game star is actually “on like Donkey Kong.” The interns at BradParksBooks.com would like to sincerely apologize to the makers of Donkey Kong™ for the slander.


7. Brad stole the snowflake idea from this guy .


8. We have no idea what he was trying to accomplish with this paragraph. But since no piece like this is complete without a bad metaphor, we’ll just let it go.


9. Funny, so does this lady .


10. We’re not sure he got the details right, but isn’t that what Russell Crowe does in A Beautiful Mind?


11. Marble is mined, not forged. Just sayin’.


12. As a youngster, Brad watched too much Three’s Company when he was supposed to be doing his English homework.


13. Brad just described the outfit he wears at every single conference and book-signing. And news flash, big guy: It’s boring.


14. Hey! What did Nancy say about not mentioning dieting!


15. We kept telling him, “It’s Groundhog’s Day. Just write a funny animal story like Carla Buckley did when she guested-posted. But did he listen to us? Noooooo.


16. Okay, we took a break from Farmville to untangle this. This makes his first sentence “It was a dark and stormy night” and gives him the conclusion, “And so they lived happily ever after.” Great stuff, Shakespeare.


17. Uh, that was actually the “golden spike.” The golden shower is something very, very different.


18. And then they run screaming for the bar.


19. Thank God this thing is finally over. Now please share a comment. Otherwise folks are going to be left trying to parse this drivel.


For more from Brad’s interns, sign up for their newsletter (http://www.bradparksbooks.com/fan-club.php ).

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Buy Brad's new book, EYES OF THE INNOCENT here.  



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I mean really...this is hysterical! Thanks Brad. and the internettes)
You just made my day!

You see Rod? I can wake up early if it's something worth waking up for.

Forging marble, losing marbles. Possibly closely related activities.


Re: #13 - No shoes? Didn't Nancy mention that guest bloggers are required to include at least one description of shoes? This is TLC.

I'm thinking tassel loafers.

This is hilarious. Which I sorely needed today. Thanks.

I think you should go wild and try a printed shirt for the next signing.

What color string do you use? (Seriously--or do I mean frivolously?--it's hilarious.)

Brad? See me in my office.

I believe this is a cleverly veiled marriage proposal and I'm flattered, Brad. But, well... I'll give you my answer in the morning.

Ramona -- The shoes are perhaps a half-generation removed from tassels. Slightly more modern. But, let's be clear: They're not slips-ons. I mean, one step at a time, you know?

Sheila -- I'm sorry, I can't answer your question. I have too much tin foil on my head.

Laura -- My mom got me this shirt from Nordstrom two Christmases ago that is just beautiful. Boldly and vividly striped, with a paisly pattern on the inside of the collar. Really fashionable. I haven't worn it once. I'm just not that guy, I'm afraid.

Xena and Karen -- Glad you got a laugh. You both must be in the part of the country where people are trying to avoid shoveling.

Nancy -- Gee, doll. What are we gonna DO in your office? ;) ;) #donttellyourhusbandiwonttellmywife

I call shenanigans on the interns' photo. Has anyone ever seen publishing interns who AREN'T 20-something Wesleyan/Smith/Sarah Lawrence grads?

Farmville! Farmville! So THIS is the secret source of genius. D'uh. Now I know why everyone and their sister plays it.
Thanks so much for those writing tips, Brad. But khaki pants in no way, shape or form work for me. What shall I wear?

I'm not sure I can even face the shower today, with thoughts of Golden Showers in my head. Dear God.

Excellent plotting advice, however. I'm off to buy some corkboard and marble filings.

I'll pay you to let me join your group of interns.

Brad, invite the offended woman wearing skirt to read this blog, she won’t be upset any more; in her place I’d not have been.

Ooh, I see on your website you'll be coming to PA for some signings. I'll make it a point to attend one, and inspect your shirt.

Oh, Lordy - this is too funny. Thanks for the giggles this morning. Cannot wait to read EYES OF THE INNOCENT!

Brahahaha, snort. I just blew milk out my nose laughing so hard!

Earth to Brad, Earth to Brad...

Does the fence come with the outfit? It would make such a good weapon. If awkward on subways.

Brad, this was adorable, if you'll forgive me for saying so. (Don't you swing that fence my way, Mister!)

Nancy, didn't we warn you about this?

A snowflake? Oh dear...if I tried that today I'd be shoveled, plowed, and beaten into submission. The floating sounds nice though. Off to-um-forge my own marble this morning. Victim or killer? That is the question...
Thanks for gracing us with your presence...your interns are marvelous :o)

You brightened a dreary, dreary day (is the sun ever going to shine again??) with this. Thank you. As for #13, hey, you can never go wrong with the classic look.

Brad, I am disappointed... I see no mention of Post-Its..bright blue, orange, yellow.
I must memorize your plot strategy because so far my method is not working.
I love this blog. It is informative and hilarious!!

If I'd known it was that easy, I'd have started years ago. Brad, looks like you're signing about a block away from my house on Sunday - I look forward to checking out the . . . um, books.

Nobody looks good in pleated pants. Nobody.

Julia -- I think certain liberties may have been taken with the interns' photos. I think those guys are all of Nancy's ex-boyfriends, gathered in one place.

Sarah -- In case it's not already clear: I have no business giving fashion advice. I'm not sure I see beyond khaki.

Harley -- Make sure it's native Amazon cork, or else the connections won't show.

Tammy -- Send your resume to [email protected], and your application will be considered.

Paulina -- I ought to sit next to more women like you in the theater.

Laura in PA -- Please be sure to introduce yourself!

Kaye -- Now that you're retired, you'll have lots of time. (Congrats again).

Hank -- Why is it I seem to save my strangest stuff for your blogs?

Nancy P -- I accept all forms of compliments, including "adorable." Heck, I sometimes even pretend insults ARE compliments. Makes for a cheery life.

Maryann -- Glad you enjoyed. I'll be sure not to tell the interns, though. They're getting full of themselves.

Mary -- Clearly, I agree. Sadly, others do not. :)

Wonderful, and a great foil to the post I just on the Rap Sheet-which is about your book, not your writing style?!? Sometimes, you just gotta laugh. Look forward to the book.

OT: A great PBS special entitled "The Pioneers of Television" is featuring "Crime Dramas" including "Mannix". Great fun and educational too!!

Marie -- The Post-Its method is only for advanced users. That will be covered in my next YouTube video.

Kerry -- Please come to the signing Sunday. I've got a reporter for the Virginia Pilot interviewing me there and then he wants to hang around and watch me interact with "my fans." I'm terrified no one will show up and then he'll write, "Brad Parks has no fans." Which is TRUE, but for goodness sakes, I'd like to fool him somehow -- lying to the media is an American tradition.

Jerry -- That's not true. I bet if Brad Pitt wore pleated pants, he'd still look great in them.

lil Gluckstern -- Yeah, I'd say The Rap Sheet post has a slightly different tenor. (They're so serious over there!)

Brad Pitt in pants...

Hunh?! What were we talking about?

Brad Pitt could wear pleated pants on his head and well, hmmmm.

Obviously Brad, you are the master of all things plotting. I will print out this blog and start on a book writing extravaganza after dinner and dessert and some tv watching. Oh and a good nights sleep . . .

I think today I will take a bath, showers of gold - yech.

Even Brad Pitt, Mr. Park, even Brad Pitt.

Fred Astaire? It seems to me he once wore pleated pants in something.

I mean, in the movies. I swear, I never dated him or anything.

Harley, are you sure you didn't date Freddie? However, if you did, you'd probably be dead by now, so I guess you couldn't have.

Brad, thanks for the wonderful advice, though for what, I'm not sure. ;-D Gray pleated pants is a good place to start...for my husband. I look horrible in pleats.

I think Brad and the Interns should be a band and play beautiful music at my house.

I'd like to be one of Brad's interns... I want to learn to play Farmville.

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