Thursday, November 10, 2005

Everyone is the hero in their own movie

I've gotten a lot of private emails lately about the way some folks in the mystery community treat other folks. By a lot, I mean about twenty in the past few days.

Some of the people writing are pros. Some have new book deals. Some are unpublished.

All have the same theme---what's with all the negativity?

Being a professional writer means you are a public figure. Like all public figures, people will openly form opinions about you and your work. Some will like you. Some won't.

The President is often the most loved and the most hated person in the country. That's just the way it goes. I'm sure he doesn't take it personally. Neither should writers.

I make it a point not to take cheap shots. I rarely defend myself. If I do defend myself, it is to make a point--it's not to change anyone's mind. There are few certainties in life, but one of them is: "You'll probably never change anyone's mind."

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and all opinions are valid. As the title of this entry says, everyone is the hero in the movie of their life. Everyone feels justified in what they say and do, and everyone is offended when the world doesn't agree with them.

The problem with judging others is that it reeks of insecurity. Throughout your life, there will be many people you don't like. Many will fail to meet up to your standards. Many will screw up. Many will attack you. But how helpful do you think you are being when you call them on it? A wise man told me over breakfast, "If someone cuts you off in traffic, and you honk and give the guy the finger, how much do you really believe your actions will change that person's behavior?"

The answer is: not at all. Insulting someone doesn't ever help the issue. Even if you feel your insult is justified.

The Internet is one of the most amazing inventions of mankind. It allows for instant communication. Unfortunately, there is also a lack of accountability. People can say things that they wouldn't have the guts to say to a person's face. They can post anonymously, or under false names. They can lie. They can troll.

So here are some Internet rules that I try to follow:
  1. Try not to hurt others.
  2. If you feel you must hurt others, be a man and own up to it.
  3. Try not to reply to those who hurt you, because you aren't going to change their mind.
  4. Be the person your kids will be proud of, whether you have kids or not.

I'm not bringing all of this up for any specific reason, and this blog entry isn't aimed at any specific individual.

And to the anonymous guy insulting me on another blog--I have a pretty good idea of who you are, and I just called Ingram and checked the sales of your last book. Ouch. No wonder you're so angry.

(My son wanted me to mention that)

First Lines

First lines are the most important lines in the story. Here are some of mine from stories and books I've sold:

There were four black and whites already at the 7-Eleven when I arrived. -- WHISKEY SOUR

"It would be so easy to kill you while you sleep." -- BLOODY MARY

The sound begins. Again. -- RUSTY NAIL

No security cameras this time, but he still has to be careful. --DIRTY MARTINI

"She sure bled a lot." -- ON THE ROCKS

"His skull is shattered and his spinal column looks like a dutch pretzel." -- WITH A TWIST

Mitch couldn't answer me with the barrel of my gun in his mouth, so I pulled it out. -- STREET MUSIC

"I want you to kill the man that my husband hired to kill the man that I hired to kill my husband." -- TAKEN TO THE CLEANERS

The woman twisting the tube into my penis has cold hands. -- FORGIVENESS

"That's gotta be where the money is." -- THE SHED

Hudson closed his eyes and swallowed hard, trying to stop sweating. -- THE AGREEMENT

There's an art to getting your ass kicked. -- EPITAPH

"I want you to kill my wife." -- SUFFER

"Let me get this straight--you want me to murder you tonight?" -- REDUX

"Eat it." -- FINICKY EATER

The mark knelt next to a garbage can, two hands unsuccessfully trying to plug nine holes in his face, neck, and upper body. -- LIGHT DRIZZLE

"No thanks." -- THE BAG

Rust from the crowbar flaked off, coating my palm with orange dust. -- BASKET CASE

Voice Module 195567 Record Mode: Is this thing working? -- SYMBIOS

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Some are stronger than others. Why? What makes a first line good or bad?

Feel free to post some of your favorites.