WE WENT VIRAL. IT WAS WEIRD.

ON SALE MARCH 15 the HAIR CLUB BURNING pitch got over 120,000 views on Facebook. Maybe more. Weird. Exciting. Alarming. And it’s all about the racial harmony and ¬†integration. The integration that matters: FRIENDSHIP.

We made this short pitch tape for a famous Hollywood director so he could critique us. He told me to keep my hair out of my eyes.

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If You Don’t Like Questions, Memoir Isn’t For You

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I just spent a few days with a novelist who had to keep yelling “SHE ISN’T ME” about the main character in her latest book. Of course it’s her. When publishing, she did put the word “fiction” on it so we had to back down. We have to honor — as friends and literary lovers — that she says the book isn’t her life story. I am not going to know who she was talking about when she wrote about a sexual encounter in the Dean’s office in college. (The idea of it excited me, by the by.)

Who WHO was it? Maybe Louis had the gumption, maybe Mike. Finally, one night, gone on buttery chardonnay, my friend blurted “memoir” instead of novel. I had her dead-to-rights and she knew it. My form of Rendition began.

Within 8 minutes, (I used a kitchen towel and Diet Coke) I’d broken through her little “fiction” to the “memoir” and found she did it on the Dean’s oriental with Martin the TA. I was appalled. Martin looked like Gene Wilder and my friend was in need of an A in Shakespeare. Our friendship has not been the same since.

Own what you’ve lived or use your imagination to build a world in which the reader could live. Spin something into something larger or spend some time on earth before you race to tell your “story.” Know why you do what you do. Do it well. Contribute higher not just more.

I knew who my friend’s heroine in her novel was: I wish she had called it a memoir, given herself credit for a life well-lived and made up something for a story later.

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10 Ways to Avoid “Beige Characters” : #amwriting

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Some characters are meant to take the air from the room and some are meant to be furniture. It is the way of the narrative. The furniture-type I call “beige characters<‘ though there is probably an academic term for them. (Literary zombies?)

“Beige characters” forward the action, appear and recede, help things along, teach something about the main character. As a reader, their names confuse me because they are so “beige,” I can’t remember. I suspected better writers are better at “beige characters.”

However, I feel I’ve missed opportunities to say something about humankind, make the book richer with detail, or just plain entertain when I create those beige characters. I’ve been lazy; I’ve neglected them. I feel terrible.

I started to study “beige characters” in a cross-section of books to see how other authors handled the challenge. I have a whole new respect for “other authors”:

1. Hint the character has a secret. You can eventually give away the secret to the reader if you choose. The simple EXISTENCE of a secret makes a character more interesting and the reader moving forward with you.

2. “Beige characters” can be made attractive to the book by having an unattractive trait. Annoying flat laughter, hairy moles, an odor, a tendency to use adjectives, anything.

3. Create a cognitive dissonance around your ‘beige characters’ – an old guy that sucks on fireballs, a girl who loves heavy metal and knits kleenex box covers – one weird image that will stick every time you have to bring in that character for a little help.

4. Add one detail about clothing that is unforgettable: a orange bra strap, prison pants with penguins on boxers, peds with a hole in the toe

5. Accents are difficult. But if you think you can give your beige character an accent different from other characters, do it. Problem solved.

6. Give a beige character a strange fear: bees, mold, spacecraft abduction, the neighbor takes their hedges while they sleep. Only you know the strange fear you need.

7. A beige character can make an interesting entrance into the narrative that the reader will remember when the beige-ness resumes.

8. A “Beige Character” can be your voice of reason in counterbalance to an unbalanced character. If you choice this route, keep your beige character fairy beige. Think Gatsby and Tom.

9. Beige Characters are often introduced early in thrillers and horror so that they may be killed in different, interesting ways. My research tells me that their introduction often hints at how they will die: example: Mary picked up the knife and said, “I’ll make the salad.”

10. Beige Characters are a lot more important than I ever thought.