the black rabbit

“ ‘Look how they love the otter Yorokobi,’ said Shiro to the black rabbit. ‘If I am the best, they will love me.’ ”

-The Black Rabbit

I have always thought of rabbits as competitive (perhaps because of The Tortoise and The Hare). In the fable I’m working on right now, Shiro the white rabbit is always on the lookout for a chance to be the best.

I love this painted scroll, the Choju-jinbatsu-giga (“Animal-person caricatures”), from 12th-centry Kyoto. Credited by some as the first manga, it shows a wrestling match between a rabbit and a frog.

I’ll be posting The Black Rabbit sometime in March.

the rule of 10

The best thing I learned in screenwriting was The Rule of 10. Basically, if there is something that needs to happen in your story, come up with a list of 10 reasons why that thing happened. The first one will be cliche. The second one will be, too. The third will be pretty familiar. But by the time you’ve gotten to 10, you’ve come up with a couple of things that are pretty unique.

An example: in The Physicist (working title for the prequel to The Rival), Iago Andronicus’ brother Armando needs to be at the research station with Iago in Hawai’i. I did not use The Rule of 10. So my first thought was Iago and Armando grew up in a rough neighborhood, and Iago was getting Armando away from their abusive father. When I told my sister this on the phone, she was like “Ug! Cliche! Racist! Forget about it.” She was right.

This has been percolating for a couple of months now. The progression has been:

  1. Bad neighborhood / abusive father
  2. Orphaned in terrible car accident
  3. Distant, preoccupied parents usually send Armando to camp anyway
  4. Summer vacation
  5. Armando is interested in nature conservation
  6. There was a house fire, and while Iago was able to pull Armando out of the flames, the trauma has caused Armando to become withdrawn and uncommunicative. Perhaps a new setting will help him to recover.

I still haven’t made it to 10, but I really like #6 because, without giving too much away, there are some ways it ties nicely into not just the rest of the story arc for The Physicist, but The Emissary as well. I’ll still keep playing with this list. You get the idea.

So, how about some surf music?

a picture’s worth a thousand words

This bird is going to be in one of my stories someday:

There is just something really compelling and creepy about that steely head and those pointy claws. Love it.

The funny thing is, these birds are all over south Florida. I used to see them regularly at one of my favorite Coconut Grove dive bars, Scotty’s Landing. They would hang around the marina while the boats came and left, and try to steal my fish ‘n chips. But I only learned yesterday – thanks to stumbling across this photo on the internet – that this handsome little devil is a Boat-Tailed Grackle.

bringing the red toad to life

Animated stained glass. Imagine it: You’re in a gothic cathedral in France on a cloudy day. Suddenly, the heavens part. The sun shines brightly through the jewel-tone, geometric shapes of a wall of glass. A Story is illuminated.

This is how I am imagining bringing The Red Toad and the Buffalo to life. Today I have been having fun searching the internet for some visual inspiration. Which I now share with you.

I love, love, love these elephants.

Chartre Cathedral looks like an amazing place to visit.

And this artist blows my mind.

Maybe subliminally, this video from 20 years ago is what inspired the idea… but I feel like there is so much room for improvement. This dipiction is so static. Imagine if it came to life, like a mosaic on the bottom of a pool. As the wind blows across the surface, the sun moves across the sky, the picture would become so dyanmic.