Pinning Down the Words

Watched a wonderful film, again, while I ate an early lunch. The Shootist is one of those films you probably either love or hate. To me, it is a perfect story. An old man, dying of cancer, has lived on the edge of civilization by his skill with a gun. Now he travels to civilization to see a doctor and realizes he faces a long, difficult death. The stars are all awesome, of course the Duke, but Jimmy Stewart, Lauren Bacall, and Ron Howard were great. Thought it one of Harry Morgan’s best roles, he was so delightfully detestable as the sheriff. If you’ve never watched it (like my husband who is not a Wayne fan), I feel sorry for you. Perfect casting for a myriad of interesting characters.

It reminded me how perfect and intricate a story can be. All the people and parts move like gears in a fine watch, meshing and moving to interact with another piece, turning away to mesh with the next wheel, all working to achieve a single effect.

Like every favorite book, every perfect play, ever memorable movie – nothing is extraneous or unimportant. Every piece has to fall in place. Makes me feel humble and stirs my ambition. I want to write a story like that. So back to the computer today.

This made me look back on my method of writing. When I wrote stories and articles, forty years ago, I wrote them with a Bic pen in a fat spiral notebook first, then typed them up with a nice carbon copy. When I got my IBM electric typewriter, I created the story as I typed.

Years later, I still write and type, but on a computer. My first was a portable Kaypro, green blip and all with an archaic word processing program called Word Star. Six computers later, I still compose on a computer. Creating as I type. I have Scrivener, but always end up back in Word, just writing.

Love the Internet. Instead of piles of books that I’d take weeks to read and mark pages with little slips of papers, I just click Wikipedia, then do a Google search for additional information. So much faster and hopefully more accurate. I didn’t always find a reference with the right answer before, and for articles I had to test it out, or when writing fiction, make it up.

Ending with a glimpse of several famous writers, pecking out their stories. See how many you recognize before you check the name.


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